Performance hack: movement speed

Athletes looking to make gains should use slower movements eccentrically, or when you’re loading toward the body, and faster movements concentrically, or when you push away from your body. The more time muscles spend under tension, the more muscle fibers the move will activate.

Play with your speed in these five exercises to boost the effectiveness of a training session.


Start in plank position, feet about hip-width apart, hands directly under shoulders, neck in line with spine, abdominals engaged. Slowly lower body to floor, then push quickly back to start. Do 8 reps.

Seated Shoulder Press

Sit on a bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand, with back tall, knees bent in front of you and feet flat on floor. Bring arms into a goalpost position, with elbows in line with shoulders, palms facing forward. Keeping shoulders down, press dumbbells directly overhead without locking elbows; slowly lower back to goalpost position and repeat. Do 8 reps.

Kneeling Pull-Down

Anchor the center of a resistance band overhead and kneel under it with left knee on the floor and right foot a stride’s length in front of it. Hold an end of the band in each hand with arms extended overhead, palms facing forward. Slowly bend elbows, bringing hands toward shoulders. Extend arms to return to start position. Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch legs (place right knee on floor) on the next set.

Kettlebell Row

Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, a kettlebell in each hand, palms facing body. Hinge forward from hips, back flat, arms extended in front of you (as shown). Slowly row, pulling weights toward chest, driving elbows back, and squeezing shoulder blades together, keeping back flat. Extend arms back to start. Do 8 reps.

Horizontal Row

Anchor the center of a resistance band at waist height and stand facing it with feet slightly wider than shoulders. Hold an end of the band in each hand with palms facing each other; extend arms straight out in front of chest and squat until thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the squat position as you slowly bend elbows, pulling band toward your chest. Extend arms to return to start position. Do 10 to 15 reps.