Want to Get Stronger Faster? You Have to Let Go.

There is a topic that I know I’ve discussed on more than one occasion, but as often as I continue to see it, I can’t help but feel it’s necessary to bring up once again.

I had an obligation to attend to this afternoon, so I took the day off of work. This meant I had the opportunity to get to the gym early – and see an entirely different set of people. One thing continues to remain the same, regardless of the time of day and the number of people in the gym … there is always someone clinging to a machine for dear life.

This morning, as I was getting in my hour on the ArcTrainer, I couldn’t help but notice the girl on the treadmill in front of me. Let me preface this by mentioning that some of the treadmills actually have a message that scrolls across them which states something along these lines: “holding on to machine is not recommended at speeds over 4 mph.” What was this girl doing? Holding on to the machine. Running.

Here’s the issue: not only is it not only unsafe to hold on to the machine higher than a certain speed, but it’s also counterproductive. Many people assume that they are better off holding on to the machine if it allows them to move a little faster. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to get more work out of your cardio this way … in fact, you’re actually going to burn less calories and engage fewer muscles than you would at a slower speed without clinging to the machine. Additionally, holding on to the machine also takes any core work out of the equation, because you no longer need your core muscles to act as stabilizers for the rest of your body.

Bottom line? Watch your posture, slow it down and let go of the handles. Not only will you end up burning more calories, you’ll also engage more muscles, growing stronger in the process.