Our "Trainer Talk" series gets the answers to all your burning fitness questions, straight from Courtney Paul, certified personal trainer and founder of CPXperience. (You might also recognize him from Bravo's Workout New York!) He's already shared wisdom on the Best Exercises for a Tight Butt, How to Sculpt Toned Arms, and the truth about Why You Can't Just Do Cardio. This week, Paul explains which is better: lifting fast or lifting heavy.
The most important takeaway? Don't try to do both at the same time. If you're lifting heavy, then perform the movements slowly to make sure you're using the correct form. As Paul says, "If you go fast with a heavy weight, girl, your form is busted and you're going to get an injury." Note: This only applies to speeding through the entire range of motion. Lifting explosively (fast on the lift, but slow on the lower) develops your fast twitch muscle fibers, which helps build power.
If you're using a lighter weight, feel free to turn up the speed, says Paul. This will be a "burnout set" that really torches your muscles.
So what does this mean for your strength training routine? Since lifting heavy/slow and fast/light are both beneficial, you should do them both, according to Paul. The faster, lighter-weight reps will help define muscles and "rip you up," while lifting heavy will build your strength. (Try this 30-Day dumbbell challenge from the Tone It Up girls to get you started.)
Still scared of the free weights? Don't let Paul's muscles intimidate you—lifting weights can have tons of health benefits, like keeping your body burning more calories after your workout, fighting osteoporosis, and improving your memory. (Plus, lifting weights will change your life—and body—in other interesting ways.) Want proof? These strong AF females prove that muscles are the sexiest kind of curves.