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Paisley Sowell does the Quick Twitch Fly (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

I'm always fascinated by the various speeds with which people do their strength training in fitness centers. Some perform their repetitions as quickly as they can while others seem to creep through each set with no end in sight.

It's one of those idiosyncrasies that make technique a personal thing, but there are some key fundamentals to keep in mind.

If you Google "ideal repetition speed," you'll get a litany of articles ranging from scholarly research to Joe Blow opinions shared on bodybuilding forums. It's no surprise that actual repetition speed varies so much, as the results are relatively inconclusive on which repetition speed is most advantageous for strength trainers.

The truth, and this may not be exactly what people want to hear, is that the appropriate repetition speed depends on the desired outcome.

If the goal is to develop hypertrophy (muscle growth), then research suggests that one should stick to a cadence of one to two seconds on the concentric (lifting) phase and three to four seconds on the eccentric (lowering) phase.

If the exerciser is concerned with developing power, then a much faster repetition speed is appropriate. For this group, the concentric and eccentric phases might both be about a second. For certain lifts, there might not even be an eccentric phase. This is true for lifts such as the power clean.

Individuals who have experienced musculoskeletal injuries might be better off with a longer time under contraction at a lower resistance level. This group might perform a three- to four-second concentric phase and a three- to four-second eccentric phase.

So the key is to understand what the goal of the exercise is, and then match the repetition speed to that outcome.

If the goal is more general, then my advice is to vary repetition speed regularly. Use faster cadences for certain movements (e.g., power cleans) and slower speed for more concentrated, shorter movements (one arm biceps curl). This will help you develop a broader overall strength profile that should lend itself to functional and metabolic applications.

This week's exercise is a unique challenge that requires a very fast and very short movement pattern while maintaining an isometric contraction at the same time. The Quick Twitch Fly will challenge even the most seasoned fitness enthusiast, but is appropriate for exercisers of an average fitness level or higher.

1. Select two medium-resistance stretch bands and attach one to each side of a squat/power rack. The bands should be anchored three to four feet off the ground.

2. Kneel in the center of the rack and grasp the stretch bands one in each hand.

3. With very upright posture, perform a chest fly by pulling the stretch bands toward each other in the center of your chest.

4. Once your hands meet, stop.

5. Place your palms together and perform 15 quick core twists back and forth. If you twist slowly, the bands will stretch out pretty far; but by moving quickly, you'll only be able to stretch them a few inches to each side, and the contraction in your chest and core will be awesome.

6. Once you finish the quick twists, perform five normal chest flys with the stretch bands — if you can.

7. Do three sets of 15 twists and five flys with 60 seconds rest in between sets.

This exercise is relatively advanced in terms of the technique, but using a relatively light resistance band can make it palatable for almost anyone. The key is to hold the palms together tightly, then engage the core as much as possible during the mini-twists. It's a fun way to train the core without lying on the floor. So, enjoy!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

[email protected]

Style on 01/07/2019

Print Headline: Repetition speed depends on desired outcome

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