Momentum is Never Your Friend

Dead lift

Throughout my years as a fitness enthusiast and trainer, I have seen so many people swinging huge kettle bells and doing what seems to be a million and one crunches.

It looks impressive at first, but when I look closer, I see a cocktail of issues in the making. I see that these individuals are moving purely by momentum, which not only can lead to injury, but also does not allow one to get the full desired workout and results. Momentum in this manner is not your friend.

If we talk about your momentum from consistently working out or from consistently making progress, then I’ll applaud that a million times over, of course.

So many people want to lift heavy and fast, but I am here to tell you right now that the old motto “work out smart” definitely applies.

Using solely momentum sets the body up to not have as much control, which can lead to a whole slew of injuries including muscle and joint tears, pulled muscles, chronic low back pain, disc problems, inflammation all throughout the body, reduced mobility, and so much more. Precision, control, and form help us protect our bodies during exercise and any activity, and for most, it is hard to do anything at such quickened speeds and still keep all three of the above things intact.

Explosive movements are not the same thing as relying on momentum to get all your reps done. This kind of movement is a real training technique and can be used as a tool to lift weights that are at a reasonably calculated increase from your norm for the purpose of building strength and/or muscle mass. For example, a kipping bicep curl is an exercise where you use the power of your legs to boost the weights in your hands to get your rep going. This can be done safely and can produce desired results when executed properly and done with a low rep range.

I have heard of people accidentally throwing kettlebells into mirrors when doing swings along with hitting others with weights. A kettlebell swing should really be called a “kettlebell thrust.” People are taking the “swing” part too literally, which leads to these individuals executing the exercise improperly; they usually end up suffering because of this. I often hear of people throwing out their backs, spraining ligaments, and breaking bones when trying to do things too fast or lifting heavier than they really are able. Yes, breaking bones! These kinds of mishaps are generally caused by relying on momentum.

Individuals tend to lose focus while exercising, and sometimes, would rather focus on being an attention seeker, such as looking like Speedy Gonzales in the gym. That’s why focus supplements are infused in pre-workout aids. As one can deduce, it is imperative to remain mentally engaged while exercising.

Exercising actually increases neurons in the brain. That is to say that exercise, when done properly, helps you grow new brain cells and, in addition, nurtures your brain-body connection.

To be most safe and effective, take the exercise as slow as you need to to make sure every muscle that should be engaged is engaged, that you are exhibiting proper form, and that your neutral spine posture is not compromised. You must stay focused up until you actually set your weights down. Injuries can and do happen when picking up and setting down weights.

As I mentioned previously, not only is solely using momentum unsafe, but also it can lead to just a cardio workout, rather than a toning and sculpting workout. For example, if you have a weak core and decide to do 100 crunches, at some point, you will begin using momentum. The muscles in your neck and arms will undoutbtedly try to save you as you crunch up rep after rep. At some point, your abs will disengage because they will have become fatigued; those other muscles, which you relied on, will have been used improperly, and, thus, will cause you pain and discomfort. When this happens, you will find that you did not work your abdominal muscles, but rather made yourself more vulnerable to injury, and in short, wasted valuable time.

This is one reason why it’s very important that the numbers for everything you choose when working out are realistically based on your skill set, the time you are able to spend working out, and your own strength. The number of reps also needs to help accomplish what you are trying to do. Research how many reps are going to be beneficial for your goal or talk with a fitness expert.

Be realistic with yourself and where you are at. There’s no shame in taking things slow to really master your form. I still prefer to go slow, and I have been at this for years.

There are many people in the gym who are overtraining and do not even know it.

My mother always told me, “Don’t be afraid to go back to basics.” And she was absolutely right.

I applaud those for knowing their limits, wanting to master something instead of just looking flashy, and taking their time with exercises/activities to avoid injuries to themselves, their surroundings, and others.

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