By Rachel Grunwell
Rachel Grunwell learns about the X-Force workout from Peter Rana, Body Tech's founder and director.
Working hard gets results — at anything in life, right? It's true in your gym sweat sessions too.
I tried lifting weights recently at a fancy gym with fancy new equipment. But actually you can apply this technique broadly at any gym and get some great results.
Negative strength training is a big buzz right now. How it works is you push your muscles to their capacity on lifting AND lowering weights.
So you slow down the downward (or eccentric) muscle lengthening phase of lifting weights. For example, with a pull up, you'd not just lift up into this quickly, you'd slow that sucker down on the downward phase too. So you'd work hard on this movement 100 per cent of the time, and not just 50 per cent of the time.
Look around your gym the next time. You'll see almost everyone cheat the downward phase of lifting weights. For example, people tend to put all their effort into one phase of a bench press.
At Body Tech gym in Auckland, this is called an X-Force workout. They are the first gym in NZ to get the equipment. Here they have fancy machines that lighten the loads automatically to perform positive lifting work and then add it back on to challenge muscles while doing the negative (lowering) phase of the workout.
"We're 40 per cent stronger when it comes to lowering a weight as opposed to lifting it.
The negative stroke, with 40 per cent more resistance, more thoroughly fatigues strength trained muscles than conventional strength training does. This deeper fatigue stimulates the production of key hormones linked to building muscle and burning fat-cell content," says Peter Rana, Body Tech's founder and director.
"So every time you do a rep you recruit more muscle fibres and dormant muscle fibres that you don't get to use normally."
The good news about negative strength training? You do fewer reps, fewer exercises and you are out of the gym quick (20-minutes at Body Tech). You also only need this workout twice weekly, says Peter.
So, that's only eight sessions a month.
The bad news? It's haaaaard work. You want to give up after three reps on each machine.
But you have to curse and sweat (and possibly swear like me) your way through five reps on each machine.
It's not an easy workout. You may even want to cry for your mum only minutes into the session — or was that only me?
The bottom line is you have to be prepared to work hard even though it's for a shorter time. But time-poor people could dig this ... I like how Peter sums up the workout: "You're not going to like it, but you are going to like the results."
• Rachel Grunwell is an award-winning writer, coach, wellness expert, yoga teacher and runs the lifestyle website inspiredhealth.co.nz
Follow her via Facebook: InspiredHealthNZ or Instagram: RachelGrunwell.