Lift Slow - Get Fit Fast?

Slow and SuperSlow - The Fast Way to Permanent Weight Loss?

Some exercise researchers think a simple change in weight training technique can have dramatic effects in building muscle. Instead of lifting a weight for 5 or 7 seconds, lift it steadily in a 10 to 14-second movement, then down in 5 to 10 seconds.

The difference is that the muscles are exhausted - brought to momentary muscle failure - in fewer repetitions (reps) - as low as 5 per set. The result - 50 percent more strength (muscle) built in 8-10 weeks.

However, other authorities, such as the American College of Sports Medicine, remain unconvinced that there is evidence that this technique is any better than other weight lifting techniques.

Burning More Calories - Even While You Sleep

Working your muscles with the slow weight lifting technique brings them to the point of momentary muscle failure - which induces the body to build more muscle. And why do you want more muscle? Because muscle burns calories even at rest, even while you sleep. If you put on 3 pounds of muscle, it burns an extra 9,000 calories in a month or an extra 100 calories per pound of muscle per day. That adds up and can make the difference between losing (or maintaining) weight or gaining weight.

Because some proponents say the slow methods put on more muscle faster than regular weight lifting techniques, you might get a jump on weight loss or weight maintenance. Women and seniors as well as men could benefit. And don't worry, you won't bulk up, you will simply develop lean, fit-looking muscle to give your body a pleasing shape.

Even if the slow technique doesn't put on muscle faster, it is still an effective way to build muscle. Muscle strengthening exercise is recommended twice per week for adults, especially older adults, to maintain muscle mass for health.

Converting to Slow

It is easy to modify free weight or theraband resistance exercises to the slow method, just go slower. Another key is to go as fast as you need to keep the action moving rather than going in segments. It may take a couple of weeks to slow your motion while keeping it from being jerky.

Start with low weights - even if you have been doing weightlifting exercises. See the difference that going slow produces - you will feel the burn and be amazed that at rep 5 or 8 you just can't lift any more.

Stop then and go on to the next exercise in your routine. If you want to repeat each exercise for a second set, do so, although it is not thought to be necessary because in the first set you exercised your muscles to fatigue, which then induces them to build more muscle.

Walking and Lifting

How often should you do weight lifting to build muscle? No more than every other day. You need days in between for your body to repair and build new muscle. Walking is a good warm-up exercise to get your body moving. After your walk, spend 20 minutes on an upper body weight lifting routine 3 times a week.

View Article Sources
  • Westcott, WL et al. Effects of regular and slow speed resistance training on muscle strength. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 41: 154-158, 2001.
  • Carpinelli RN, Otto RM, Winett RA. A Critical Analysis of the ACSM Position Stand on Resistance Training: Insufficient Evidence to Support Recommended Training Protocols. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online 2004;7(3):1-60
  • American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009;41(3):687–708. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3181915670.