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Coaching Points for Proper Rep Execution

March 29, 2013 | Robert Taylor

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Regardless of your sport, each game or match comes down to execution. Poor execution results in a disappointing season.

The same can be said for strength training. How you execute each repetition says a lot about you as an athlete and your program. The purpose of a properly performed repetition is to produce tension in the muscle, which, when repeated for short periods of time, fatigues the muscle. (See 5 Steps to Build Muscle Fast.) To perform reps in the most efficient way possible, note the following five coaching points.

Minimize momentum

If you move a weight too quickly, it will increase in speed to the point where it actually travels on its own. The increase in momentum takes tension off the muscle, making the exercise both easier and more dangerous—both of which you want to avoid when strength training. (Check out Lifting Speed.)

Pause in the fully contracted position

Once you raise the weight, pause momentarily at the highest point, where the muscles are in the fully contracted position. Pausing helps minimize momentum.

Slow down the lowering phase

Lifting the weight is one half of the exercise. Lowering it is the second. Because you can lower approximately 40% more weight than you can lift, you use fewer muscle fibers in the lowering phase—that is, unless you slow it down. If you raised the weight in one or two seconds, taking three to five seconds to lower it effectively "adds" more weight. Lowering fast is like dropping the weight; and just as throwing weight up is an inefficient and dangerous way to train, dropping weight does nothing to develop strength and muscle. (Lifting Misconceptions)

Be aware of body position and leverage

Lifting more weight for the sake of lifting more weight, with no regard to how it is lifted, may stroke your ego, but it does not necessarily produce stronger muscles. Remember, if the leverage is right, you can lift the world. Only an undisciplined athlete will break form or alter an exercise to give himself better leverage.

Maintain constant tension

When you strength train, you want to work each exercise through its full range of motion with your muscles under a constant load. Too often, trainees let their concentration slip as the exercise becomes uncomfortable, seeking relief by resting part way through the repetition or bouncing plates off the weight stack. Lower the weight in a slow, controlled, smooth manner, and raise the weight in the same fashion. (Check out Double Tension Training: Taking Your Dumbbell Chest Exercises to the Next Level.)

Watch the SMARTER Team Training video below to learn more essential training principle tips.


Robert Taylor
- Robert Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. He has served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Loyola University Maryland;...
Robert Taylor
- Robert Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. He has served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Loyola University Maryland;...
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