How Important is Cadence Counting During Your Workout?
Posted April 22, 2021 by Matthew Romans
The Total Results exercise protocol is predicated upon a slow and controlled speed of movement, with an additional emphasis on a precise change of direction on each repetition. This is done to maximize muscular loading, which will result in a more effective exercise stimulus. We aim to have the client raise and lower the resistance in approximately ten seconds, but will accept anything between eight and twelve seconds in each direction. This gives clients plenty of leeway, and at the same time, allows us to standardize for record keeping purposes. Some clients have a natural knack for maintaining a smooth and continuous movement, while others need a little more guidance. Over the years, I have found that utilizing a cadence count is an effective teaching tool to help clients get the most out of each exercise, and it is something that I have found myself using more frequently with trainees of all levels of experience.
Pacing is just as important as your overall speed in an exercise; not all ten seconds are created equal. Let's say you are performing the Lumbar Extension exercise. Most clients start the exercise in the bottom out position at 50 degrees on the protractor, and finish at 0 degrees in the most contracted (extended) position. If you achieve the 15 degree position in three seconds, you are going too fast, and will have to slow down significantly in order to meet the proper standard for speed of movement ( I do not count any repetitions completed in seven seconds or less). This means that your pacing is off target; what we are looking for is a smooth and continuous movement, with a rate of acceleration of about one inch per second. Going too fast can unload the musculature and increase the risk for injury, while going too slowly can actually give you a respite. Our goal is to systematically and safely inroad (fatigue) the muscular structures in order to create a stimulus, and utilizing proper speed and pace helps us to achieve that end. This is where cadence counting becomes very helpful.
Ken Hutchins, who is the founder of our exercise protocol, used to discourage instructors from using a cadence count beyond a certain point of a client's development. He thought it could be considered a crutch that would actually impede clients from getting a better feel for speed of movement. I disagree. I believe that cadence counting is actually very important to use with clients regardless of whether they are a novice or very experienced, and it is very helpful at both the beginning and at the end of an exercise, particularly as momentary muscular failure looms.
The cadence count is introduced during the initial consultation, and I often demonstrate the bicep curl exercise to illustrate how it works. I start with my arm straight and count from zero to ten until I get to the most flexed position. This can be applied to any exercise. Although the range of motion can vary from one exercise to the next, cadence counting helps to standardize pacing. I often use the cue with clients to "think of yourself as a human metronome", meaning that the desire should be to perfect each and every repetition. That being said, trainees should avoid counting to themselves during every exercise. This can cause segmentation of the movement, which is a form discrepancy. Instead, focus on going as slowly and smoothly as you can, with an emphasis on precise turnarounds, and I encourage them to use my cadence count as a reference for their speed. There are other benefits to using a cadence count as well. It can help the client to stay focused and keep their mind on the task at hand, and it helps to keep movement smooth, while also allowing the client to get into a proper rhythm of free and continuous breathing. When the exercise becomes more demanding and movement slows to a crawl, actually think about going faster; your speed will probably be right on target. Lastly, it's important to realize that I will not cadence count on every repetition; I still need to be able to quickly correct form discrepancies and give other instructional cues. However, I will use the cadence count when necessary to help bring each exercise to its desired conclusion, which is momentary muscular failure and a thorough inroad.
This is another example of the attention to detail and level of forethought that Total Results provides, and it's something you can't find in other exercise philosophies or in a commercial gym. Total Results is your accountability partner in terms of your health and fitness, and we will continue to work to give you the best exercise experience money can buy. We value our clients, consider them as family, and will continue to serve your needs to the best of our ability. Our mission is your amazing!