One of the lessons that I took home from Catherine Imes' workshop was the idea of training lifts at a steady and controlled pace. For example, instead of doing as many jerks as possible in 5:00, do 30 jerks in 5:00 (1 repetition every 10 seconds). Obviously, with this kind of training, you find yourself simply holding the weight in the overhead and rack positions for longer periods of time, but the actual repetitions themselves are still fast.
The Overhead Position The "Rack" Position
(rest position for the snatch) (rest position for the jerk)
Pacing your work in this way does a few things:
1) Forces you to find a way to "relax" inbetween repetitions
- although it is definately not easy to stand in one position with a heavy weight bearing down on you, it can be considered a VERY active rest rather than an exertion
2) Develops patience and pain tolerance
- more time in a given bout = more opportunities for you mind and body to say "Hey, why don't you just set down the weight and relax a little?". In addition, it requires patience and will to not start panicking and pick up the pace when you begin sucking wind
3) Develops supportive strength
- strong bones, tendons, and ligaments are as important to strength as muscles are and time under tension in the beginning or lockout position is, arguably, a more efficient way to do it
4) Allows you more time to concentrate on technique rather than repetitions
- despite every approach's admonition to never sacrifice quality for quantity, when the goal is to get as many repetitions as possible, form will be sacrificed, especially in people who have not developed strong technical habits to begin with
The first three qualities above are all-important when you are given 10:00 to complete as many repetitions as possible without setting the bell down and (in the kettlebell snatch) when you are only allowed one hand switch. #4 (focus on technique rather than reps) is an important quality for training. In competition, you need to "be the squirrel".
In training, it is important to evaluate rep efficiency and paced training can be a important tool in the toolbox to do this. If I were to liken it to competitive swimming, I would compare it to swimmers who, year after year, churn away without regard to stroke efficiency - although their conditioning may continue to improve, without maximizing distance per stroke and only focusing on stroke rate, their gains are nowhere near their maximum potential.