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What's the best way to work with cables? Add to ...

The question

When I use the cable machines at the gym, should I move slowly and with control, or more explosively?

The answer

What variables you manipulate in your weight-training workout - and how you manipulate them - should depend on your goals and fitness level.

In your case, you're asking about tempo.

In general, faster movements develop power, speed and fast-twitch muscle fibres. A slower tempo develops control and strength, and is an excellent way to get you acquainted with a movement pattern.

But don't confuse people who move quickly because they never learned correct lifting techniques with experienced lifters who are taking their workouts to the next level.

Cable newbies should start by using a manageable weight and a slower, more controlled, tempo.

Only progress to performing explosive exercises when you can execute the motion with perfect form .

Trainer's Tip: Ask yourself these three questions before you increase your tempo:

1. Do I have the structural support in my muscles, joints, ligaments etc. to perform this movement correctly?

2. Does my brain understand how to execute this movement pattern well so that I can safely increase the tempo?

3. What do I want to achieve? If you are an athlete, make sure your lifting technique mimics the demands of the sport and has high "transfer" power.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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