It’s Simple: Heavy Things Slow, Light Things Fast



There are two ways to lift weights:  You can lift heavier weights with less speed or lighter weights with more speed.  In each case, you’re trying to move the weight as fast as possible.

This isn’t a ‘hard’ rule much in the same way that glass isn’t a solid.  What?!  Glass isn’t solid?!  Science!  Practically speaking, it is.  It keeps the rain and bugs out, the H/VAC air inside, and unless you’ve noticed the windows on buildings that are hundreds of years old, you’ve never questioned it’s phase of matter.

View through old window panes

In certain instances, scientists will have to adjust their actions based on the true nature of glass, just as you will rarely have to break the rule above.  Lift heavy things slow, lift light things fast.  Simple, right?

When you’re selecting exercises in the gym, choose exercises that follow this rule, and preferably sandwich your heavy/slow work with light/fast work.

After you’ve addressed your general dynamic mobility, aka not moving like an old man, you’re going to want to do something to tell your brain that it’s Go Time.  My preferred activities for people are a movement drill/skill like using an agility ladder or medicine ball, or doing a kettlebell swing.

Here is a movement variation:

Following your ‘slow’ general warm-up with a fast one is a better way to prepare for your training session, but it’s also a better way of getting results.

I’ve seen some folks take a point of pride in not including a warm-up, saying, “Oh, I just jump right into it.”  Well jump your ass down to the PT’s office, because you’re bound to get there eventually!

The injury risk of exercise is related to how exactly you’re training, but it seems like most people get hurt from moving poorly, and we don’t want you to do that.  Seriously; don’t do that.

Nail your dynamic warm-up, nail an appropriate ‘speed’ drill, then get into your lifting.  Perhaps this is using several medicine ball throw variations before you bench press or do chin-ups.  Perhaps this is doing kettlebell swings before you deadlift, or an agility ladder circuit before you squat.  Moving quickly is cool, and quick movement that’s related to the strength training task at hand makes your warm-up ice cold!

Once you’ve addressed your pre-workout speed work, you get to act like this guy:

planet-fitness-I-lift-things-up-ad planet fatness spoof ads commercial meathead musclehead dumb muscle health club gym


While his vocabulary might limit his romantic endeavors to the barbell and not Belle, he has the right idea:  Lift things up and put them down.  How many times you do that depends on your goals, but lifting weights is one of the most productive things you can do for your overall health and physique, regardless of goals.  All things being equal, a stronger person will be more successful.  Once you’ve addressed your strength requirements/demands/goals for the day, it’s time for that fast party again.

If you like Oreos, you can repeat the same ‘speed’ work after your strength work as you did before; quite literally, a sandwich.  However, if you’re using a more technically demanding warm-up exercise, or a more aggressive training system, you likely do not want to use that same modality for your conditioning.

Your nervous system is tired, your muscles are tired, and I’m betting that your plan is to race the clock to be done with training.  That’s all well and good, but don’t do something that will send you to snap city.  Examples of snap city:

If you’ve used swings as your foreplay and then deadlifted, more swings may not be the answer.  If you’ve used the agility ladder before doing split squats, more ladder drills may not be the answer.  If for some reason you decided plyo push-ups were a good idea, more ploy push-ups may not be the best answer.

Conversely, if you’re comfortable with higher swing volumes, get your damn swing on.  When done well, it’s a bullet train to Rippedville.  Other options include loaded carries, sled work (pushing, pulling) hill work, battling ropes, and medicine ball work can be implemented.

The goal is to elevate your heart rate, and you can’t elevate your heart rate if you’re injured, so let’s avoid having you on the disabled list.  Hell, I’d rather you skip doing more demanding work and get from Point A to Point B safely.  For example:


I’d rather you ride your bike home from the gym then say, “I’m going to run treadmill sprints becuse they were in [Fill-In-The-Blank Fitness Magazine with photoshopped cover models] and looked soooooo hard!”  Let’s not do that, mkay pumpkin?

You want to workout.  You want the best results possible.  Let’s combine psychology and physiology and figure out what’s best for you.  First and foremost, what are you comfortable doing in the gym?

Swinging a kettlebell?  Throwing a medicine ball?  Using an agility ladder?  Walking to the water fountain?  Include a skill-based speed drill at the beginning of your workout to turn everything ‘up’ before you start strength training.  Once you’re done getting stronger, address any conditioning needs you have by moving fast again.

It’s simple.  Warm-up, lift light things fast, Lift heavy things slow, then lift light things fast.

If you’d like specifics on exercise selection for you, shoot me a comment, a message, a tweet, or a telegraph, and we’ll put our heads together.

2 Replies to “It’s Simple: Heavy Things Slow, Light Things Fast”

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