TENSION VS RELAXATION
In a traditional sense most people that strength train focus on the top of the concentric movement with maximum tension to give the signal to build muscle. This of coarse is effective and very common in the bodybuilding and physique world. Everyone should learn to fire off properly neurologically and once good form is established in your movements I would like to offer another prospective in strength training. At my age and at the point I am in my physical training,I train very different. I am not recommending this to everyone but I know it can benefit many athletes and people in general to mix it up a bit.
I personally focus on the change of direction in pretty much everything I do. Moving the load to its most concentric point and changing directions fast as possible both at the top and bottom of the movement with good form and complete control. In between the focus is on relaxation and only using tension as needed at certain points of the movement. The benefits that come with this way of working are mainly better endurance since you aren't as tense and are working on better neurological control. I admit this is a bit more advanced since people in general need to have a good connection with their bodies and quality movement and control. So step 1 is always isometric holds with proper tension. Step 2 is more of a grind movement with slow and controlled tempo under load with proper tension throughout the movement. After you have a good understanding and experience of these first 2 steps I always recommend playing with tension vs relaxation training and a focus on change of direction. This is a much more dynamic way of training and translates better to real life movement. Since I have made this way of training my main focus over the years I notice much better muscle endurance and faster recovery between sets and workload mainly due to less lactic acid buildup. The best side effect of this is that I have noticed a big increase in tendon and ligament strength and joint pain has completely disappeared. Most people only focus on muscle strength and connective tissue is just an added bonus from strength training but focusing on this way of moving seems to help a great deal in strengthening connective tissue and mobility in the levers of the body physically and neurologically.
Please don't think I don't use tradition grind training. I lift heavy once a week to maintain strength with a good slow controlled movement on a day that my HRV(heart rate variability) is most recovered for the week. Basically when my nervous system is most recovered and ready to be taxed under heavy load. All I am saying is this way of training can benefit lots of people that are ready for this way of training and it helps train everything from reaction time, overall strength and control, to connective tissue durability. Just a good way to mix things up and train more dynamically so that your athleticism gets a boost. I know this just sounds like plyometrics and the general principle is the same except this can be used in most very movement not just jumping around and all out explosive movements. After all life is about finding a balance with our body, mind, and energy systems. This just helps you understand a balance between tension and relaxation in your own body.
If you would like some info and help with adding a change to your routine please email me at Ares@areswellness.com or fill out the health questionnaire on my site and I will get you some info.