April 19, 2024

How Slowing Down Can Speed Results When Exercising

When slowing down speeds up results

When it comes to exercise, people tend to think that moving faster garners better results. That is not necessarily the case. Results happen when we mix up the pace and put more muscle into it…

Fun fact: The majority of our Mojo songs are edited for a quicker tempo to help keep an energizing vibe and pace in class.

Last week, we had a moment that made us giggle in one of our classes. The original version of one of our songs, “Fun”, by Kascade, snuck onto the playlist. It was so slow that it felt like we were in quicksand. I think I can speak for everyone in saying, I prefer the quicker version!

While we might think that it’s because the tempo is more energizing, it’s actually because the slower version makes us have to work harder. 

When the music is quicker, we can cheat a little more through the movements. We don’t need to lift our knees as high, lunge as deep, or add more muscle “color” (aka. shimmies) – which takes more energy.

Another fun fact:
Based on personal observation, friends who were former dancers and friends who lean toward low-impact movements tend to embrace the challenge of our slower-paced routines more than friends who were former cheerleaders or athletes.

Why? There is a misnomer that slowing down movements will decrease our overall heart rate, but it’s quite the opposite. Switching up the pace, often, is a metabolic HIIT technique.

Here are some reasons switching up the pace helps us take it up a notch:

1. EPOC: The Afterburn Effect

  • The goal of HIIT is to push our body beyond its comfort zone during the higher-intensity dance segments. This demands more oxygen for energy production. Even after the fast moves are over, our body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate to replenish oxygen stores. This is called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). It’s like our body continues to burn fuel (calories) even after we turn off the engine (slow down).

2. Confusing Our Metabolism

  • HIIT alternates between high-intensity bursts (like jumping jacks during a faster song) and recovery periods (like walking lunges during a slower song). This mimics the fight-or-flight response, where our body quickly switches between energy production systems. This constant change keeps our metabolism from adapting to a steady state (like a predictable jog). The confusion forces it to work harder to adjust to the ever-changing demands of the dance routine.

3. Building Our Calorie Furnace (Muscle)

  • HIIT dance fitness, with its diverse moves, stimulates muscle growth across different muscle groups. Muscle is metabolically expensive to maintain, meaning it burns more calories even at rest. HIIT increases our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) by building muscle mass. This is like the baseline setting on our body’s internal furnace, determining how many calories we burn even when we’re not actively dancing.

Plateau Prevention: Why Switching Tempos Matters

By incorporating both high-intensity and recovery periods, HIIT fitness routines prevent our body from adapting to a workout routine. This is crucial to avoid plateaus.
A helpful analogy:

  • Imagine your body’s metabolism as a runner. A constant running pace (traditional exercise) allows the runner to become very efficient at that specific speed. However, HIIT dance with its changing tempos is like running a course with hills and flat stretches. The runner must constantly adjust, keeping them challenged and improving their overall fitness (metabolism).

So, the next time a song comes on that is a little slower-paced, think of it as a welcome challenge and embrace it! Put some sexy muscle into it. Use it or lose it! 

Some tips to consider when slowing down movements:

Change of Pace Even if you don’t feel you need recovery time, let yourself slow down and speed up. The “surprise” factor keeps your heart spry and your body youthful.

Slow, Steady, Strong If the choreography is too quick or complicated, take control and modify. As in weight lifting, forcing it will only lead to an injury. Keeping slow, controlled movements is more effective than quick, light movements. 

Range of Motion (ROM) If you feel the pace isn’t challenging enough, try using a wider range of motion – bigger movements – while keeping a controlled rhythm. The effect is like picking up a heavier weight which requires more energy and muscle groups to help you out. Speeding it up with small movements is like biking in the lowest gear on a flat plane – it’s less effective.

No Flailing! The English dictionary defines flail as “to struggle uselessly”. Focus on the quality and purpose of your movements rather than whether your “steps” are right or wrong.

It’s all about the CORE  For more power, burn, and control, all your movements start from the core on out (glutes included!) 

As with any instrument, it may take time to learn the craft,
but the journey can be as rewarding as the results. 
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