5 Minutes with Meg: Tempo Edition
I’ve been thinking a lot about…
There are so many directions I could go with this topic. In the 5 minutes we have today, let me focus on how tempo affects our ability to perform better during sport and physical activity.
Care to Tango?!
Runners and cyclists this beat’s for you!
Running and cycling is very rhythmic. It’s one of reasons why these activities can be so addictive. Moving meditation. The internal rhythm of breath and metronome-like leg pumping becomes even more powerful when you add music.
Our natural rhythm (and that of most songs) is a 1, 2 beat: one, two, one, two… and so it goes. Which translates to Right, Left, Right, Left… and our breathing follows that pattern.
The challenge with the 1, 2 beat is we will tend to lean into, lead with, favour one leg – the stronger leg – for the “one” count of this rhythm. ONE two, ONE two, ONE two… And our breath creates a natural rhythm where we are breathing out, and therefore more actively bracing on the ONE beats…
So, what happens if you think a Tango into your run or ride? ONE two three, ONE two three, LEFT right left, RIGHT left right. We start to alternate lead legs as well as alternate how we breathe and therefore brace. It’s more balanced. Encourages better stability and activation on BOTH sides.
Interestingly enough, you might at first find this makes the activity a little harder. “The Tango Method” can encourage slightly higher cadences as well as more core activation and control. So, ultimately it will make you safer, stronger, and faster. Olé!
Waiting to exhale?
Don’t wait. But take just a little bit longer doing it.
Focusing on and slightly extending your exhale can have a few interesting repercussions: It can reflexively encourage greater inhalation, ultimately delivering more oxygen to your muscles, improving aerobic capacity, and increasing the effort you can expend during anaerobic intervals. It can also speed recovery between exercise bouts.
A more active exhale improves the body’s ability to brace, making those heavy lifts more effective and safer too.
And whether you’re exercising or not, spending a few moments grounding yourself as you more actively exhale can elicit a parasympathetic response; so, you feel calmer, more relaxed. It can facilitate better oxygen flow to the brain so you feel clearer headed. It will also encourage stronger muscles through and around the rib cage so that your breathing at all times is more efficient.
So, for the rest of summer? Dance a little more. Breathe a little better.
Meg Sharp, Director of Personal Training, Cambridge Group of Clubs