Whenever I watch a Bruce Lee film with friends or family, the fight scenes were always what stuck out as revolutionary to them. He attributed much of his strength and physical development to dynamic tension training. Watching Bruce Lee movies and reading about Charles Atlas made me think about something my martial arts mentor taught me: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Dynamic tension has been shown to improve muscle control and strength, but could it also be a secret key to speed development? The Shaolin monks have certainly developed all these qualities from their training. Reading about the exercises, I realized that they are fundamentally dynamic tension exercises.
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Whenever I watch a Bruce Lee film with friends or family, the fight scenes were always what stuck out as revolutionary to them.
He attributed much of his strength and physical development to dynamic tension training. Watching Bruce Lee movies and reading about Charles Atlas made me think about something my martial arts mentor taught me: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
Dynamic tension has been shown to improve muscle control and strength, but could it also be a secret key to speed development? The Shaolin monks have certainly developed all these qualities from their training. Reading about the exercises, I realized that they are fundamentally dynamic tension exercises.
How could this possibly relate to speed training? The goal of plyometric training is often for SPP specific physical preparation , meaning that someone will explosively train a specific movement to increase speed through nerve and fast twitch muscle development. The problem is, SPP often fails to account for the health of the tendons. Training that emphasizes such explosive movement usually relies on momentum, and the torque on the connective tissues from momentum training often does more harm than good.
Furthermore, when training such momentum and speed, it can be even more difficult to truly master the technique, because continuous repetition at high speed is mistaken for smoothness. Intensity is what determines the development of your muscle, not speed.
If your training is not intense enough to require your fast twitch muscles to fatigue, your slow twitch muscle fibers, which recover quicker, will develop more and take on the work load. If training is slow but has tremendous intensity, it will still develop fast twitch muscle fibers. Slow but intense movement will depend on your own muscle control development. And therein lies the key to the smoothness — muscle control. What people sometimes attribute to not having enough fast twitch muscle fibers is actually awkward or slower speed and movement.
More often than not, the issue is muscle memory. If you constantly perform a movement, your nervous system remembers the movement to make it more efficient and reduce the amount of muscle fibers recruited to perform it.
Performing slow dynamic tension exercises can help your nerves and muscles get used to performing the movements you want to train , and builds incredible speed when you perform the same movements without the tension. When you are exercising to develop speed of technique, or maybe just doing some grease-the-groove training, try adding some dynamic tension to your movements. One way I find I can easily train it is by walking — simply walking while tensing the muscles in my legs has helped their overall strength and speed develop.
My personal favorite walk to couple with dynamic tension is duck walking, which is essentially walking in a low squat position. Tensing the muscles in your legs as you walk makes you very attentive to your movements, as you could easily lose balance if you move too quickly. Slow, deliberate steps while flexing will strengthen your thighs as well as your calves and tibialis a muscle that more often than not is neglected.
For an advanced variation, stomp instead of walking, and tense your muscles right before your foot stomps the ground. Flexing your legs will help the shock transfer to your muscles and tendons rather than just your joints. This is a training technique that is fundamental to Bajiquan martial arts practice, called zhenjiao stomping foot.
Trained progressively and consistently, your legs will become rock solid, your joints will work like springs, and the power output of your legs will be optimal. In my last article there is a video of Sensei Shinyu Gushi performing the sanchin kata with hard dynamic tension.
But furthermore, it has allowed me to apply sharper technique to all things I apply it to: basketball, football, martial arts, and bodyweight training, etc. Check out these simple workouts and fun exercises that can be done at-home with makeshift or no equipment at all. Stay at home, stay fit! Next Article. Breaking Muscle Newsletter.
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Dynamic Tension is a self-resistance exercise method which pits muscle against muscle. The practitioner tenses the muscles of a given body part and then moves the body part against the tension as if a heavy weight were being lifted. Dynamic Tension exercises are not merely isometrics , since they call for movement. Instead, the method comprises a combination of exercises in three disciplines: isotonic , isokinetic , and some exercises in the isometric discipline. He became obsessed with strength. He said that one day he watched a tiger stretching in the zoo and asked himself, "How does Mr.