Angle can be easily represented by the difference between a plank on the toes vs the knees, or a plank on the hands vs the forearms. Changing the angle of the body will affect the intensity of any exercise. Along with the Angle is the body placement on the equipment (where you put you hands and feet); and together they constitute form. Form always prevails over the other keys because if your form is not effective, then you are not training the correct muscle and all else is done in vain.
Especially now that we have the RAMP, you'll see that when you elevate the Megaformer or the Supra, those angles change everything! There are some angles that are really going to work well for you and others that don't. That's when you really need to understand body mechanics. The angle can change the way gravity affects the exercise, it will change where the student feels the work and the intensity of the work. And on the RAMP, the angle can change even the nature of an exercise from a pulling to a pushing exercise.
Now that your form is effective, you need to keep the movement in its effective Range Of Motion. What's the Range of Motion for each exercise? The ROM is the actual movement. Some movements should be done at full range and other should be done partially. Again, the key term is effective, the effective ROM will depend on the exercise. Most important thing to keep in mind are the muscles you want to target. Often times a full-range of motion will relieve the tension off the muscles you want to target! And at times too limited a range of motion will not stimulate all of the intended muscles. There is a difference between the range of motion of a muscle vs the range of motion of the movement.
i.e.—The Wheelbarrow. If you perform the movement of The Wheelbarrow at a full range of motion, you would extend your body all the way out, and then pull yourself all the way in. The Wheelbarrow as an exercise, is supposed to target abdominal / core, and movement coming from the triceps, shoulders, and lats.
So why is a full-range of movement not ideal in this exercise? When you push the carriage all the way out, you're not really working your abs and shoulders primarily anymore—You are adding stress to your neck, your clavicle, your traps, and your lower back… So perhaps it is better that you don't want to go all the way out. And in the other direction, if you bring the carriage all the way into the platform, you lose all the tension and no longer stimulate the abdominals / core and lats. Here you don't feel anything… So very likely it's going to be a more limited / narrow range of motion for people. That's the effective range of motion.
Now that we have effective form and effective ROM, we want to use enough resistance to trigger a reaction—a positive adaptive response. But you don’t want to leap well-over the threshold of a student’s ability. In a basic strength-training environment, I could start with 5 pounds and if nothing happens, I can increase to 10 pounds. If my body is responding at the 10 LBS, it means that 10 pounds is enough. I don't need to put on 50 pounds. It would be bad logic to think, "Okay, 10 pounds is good. 100 pounds must be better!" Big no-no. Because what happened is this... You could be blowing out your joints, you are putting undue strain on your connective tissues, and too much resistance can and will lead to injury which puts the body in a weaker position to rebuild. Again, the key word here is "effective;" you only need enough tension to trigger a change; more is not always more and you have to find that sweet spot.
Depending on the exercise, resistance can help support or work against the student. Finding the Effective Intensity is the optimal intensity required to challenge the muscles, align the joints, and give the connective tissues time to adapt to the new stress. The Lagree Fitness Equipment works with variable tension allowing for every possible increment of resistance.
Now that we have the effective form, ROM, and the resistance; we must stay in the movement long enough to trigger the positive adaptive change. That duration is at least 60 seconds per waist up exercise and 120 seconds per waist down exercise.
In 2001, I used to count repetitions in class. Let me tell you, when you try to count repetitions for 10 different people doing 10 different steps, it is completely unmanageable. I started to time the duration of the sets instead, using a stopwatch, which made a lot more sense to manage a group. The question then became—How much time per set then? Well, it took at least 15 to 20 seconds for an entire class to get into the movement, so 15 or 20 seconds would not have been an appropriate duration. The teacher also needs time to come around and correct people’s form. But on the opposite end, the students would fatigue quickly if left too long. I decided to use a (1) minute for the upper body exercises and two (2) minutes for the lower body exercises. That timing has worked very well ever since.
Years later, studies started to come out about the benefits of 60-seconds per set. As it tuned out, a lot of stuff happens at the 60 second mark! The most interesting thing is that at the 60-second mark of continuous work, is also the threshold for your aerobic system to kick in. Switching from anabolic to aerobic means you'll start to utilize fat as an alternative source of fuel. People usually think that an aerobic workout is an hour or you have to run, cycle, or swim for an hour to get to the aerobic energy system. But after a minute, you can start to work aerobically, and each exercise you teach in a Lagree Fitness class is a fat-burning exercise if taught to at least a minute.
What happens beyond one minute? There you have the intensity! You can absolutely teach exercises for longer, as long as you are minding an effective intensity. You want to train for the optimal amount of time to trigger the muscle stimulation. The lower body is more resilient to fatigue so at least two minutes is required to train the muscles to enough intensity and to work both anabolic and aerobic energy systems.
Effective Tempo relies on slowing down the movement. Just when you think you’re going slow enough, we’ll recommend you try to go even slower. The tempo has evolved tremendously in the past 10 years. It went from “slow down” to counting to 2, to 3, and then count to 4, and I'll say, "Well, the fastest you ever want to go is to count to 4. You can go slower than that." But what is a count of 4? It represents about 8 to 10 seconds on the positive and 8 to 10 seconds on the negative or 8 to 10 seconds as you move the carriage out and 8 to 10 seconds as you move the carriage in, or 16 to 20 seconds to do 1 repetition or 1 full revolution. In other words, a Tempo of 4 counts will allow a student to may be complete 5 repetitions in 1 minute, but remember those repetitions are done without break or stopping.
Why do we want to slow down the movement? Why is speed such an important factor in Lagree?
When you take out the momentum, and put the work and effort into the muscles, you will be incorporating more muscle fibers and in a much safer way than explosive movement. When you perform the exercises slower, you activate your Slow-Twitch Muscle Fibers (The Red Fibers).
And why is the ST muscle fiber important to activate?
They are your endurance, fat-burning, toning, sculpting fiber. If you want to create a well-defined physique, you need to stimulate your ST muscle fiber. When you work very slow and with control, the result is to really tighten the muscle fibers instead of force them to just get larger.
In addition, I believe (this is not yet proven by science) that your ST muscle fiber sits at the bottom of the Muscle Fiber Type Pyramid. The ST is the foundation for all muscle fiber type to function properly. Training the ST will benefit all the other muscle fiber types and will help to boost performance in any sports.