White Boys Can Dance: Why Rhythm Training can Increase your Speed and Strength

Posted on April 4, 2010. Filed under: Speed | Tags: , , , , , |


As far as I’m aware there’s not much in the body that doesn’t have some sort of rhythm that makes them tick. This rhythm or multiple rhythms that we have is similar to a pendulum swinging back and forth. Some people instinctively go faster, some go slower and it may also make us gravitate towards certain sports and activities. Although this won’t seem “cool” or “hi-tech” we’ll be exploring the value in adding this as a variable in your training.

Easy Does It...Slower, Slower

Think about it, if you hate very fast rhythms – you’d hate anything really explosive. These would be like marathon runners or anyone who likes distance events, tai chi practioners, etc. Push them past their slow speeds and you have people who become nerve wrecked and just hate it in general. On the other hand you have your constantly busy people – the

difference is like time and day, similar to the fast paced lifestyle of new york contrasted with the relaxed life style of hawaii.

Now what I’m saying is that you can train rhythm similar to how you can train strength. It follows an up and down scale like the rising peaks and valleys of strength training periodization wave cycles or simply the ebb and flow of water. So what’s the point?

The Point

If you freak out in slow activities – you’d hate writing, reading, sitting down and eating and basically enjoying the finer things in life. Besides that slow activities are naturally based on the relaxed state of things and may even help facilitate a relaxed state in your body. Slow activities my help facilitate parasympathetic nervous system activity – basically the relaxing side of our body that helps us rest and digest. For those constantly tense people – it actually loosens them up by easing the tension in tissues. Faster speeds would thus be the opposite, the fire to the water, and cause arousal states, which is otherwise known as “fight or flight modes.” The fight or flight mode is activated by the sympathetic nervous system and cause you to charge up. Problem is that constantly being towards the fight or flight side of things, wears down your body and especially causes cognitive and digestive decline. We’ll go into the special science stuff later, but if you we’re to get anything from this it’s that our body needs to be balanced as much as possible; but not by constantly trying to be in the middle, but by being in the extremes!

Next Time we’ll go into the little details about how the nervous system interacts with the rest of the body and how being unbalanced towards any one side of the rhythm coin actually slow down increases in your performance!


1. Maryam Saleh, Jacob Reimer, Richard Penn, Catherine L. Ojakangas, Nicholas G. Hatsopoulos. Fast and Slow Oscillations in Human Primary Motor Cortex Predict Oncoming Behaviorally Relevant Cues. Neuron, 2010; 65 (4): 461-471 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.02.001

2. BMC Neuroscience (2009, March 18). Guitarists’ Brains Swing Together. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/03/090316201501.htm

3. McGovern Institute for Brain Research (2009, June 2). Long-distance Brain Waves Focus Attention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/05/090528142829.htm


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