There is a science behind slow weight lifting that many of you are missing out on. A science that points to the fact that controlling the weight in both directions and making your muscles work far harder, will greatly enhance your results.
Are you having trouble building muscle or getting stronger?
Is trimming down tough for you?
Have you never been able to get those nice, tight, defined abs?
What if I told you that you could make one simple “tweak” to your weight lifting workouts that would make a dramatic and substantial shift in your results?
A “tweak” that can actually help you get a way better body?!
What I’m about to share with you here, in this very article, is a weight lifting technique that is through the roof powerful, and yet so damn simple you can literally begin using it at the gym tonight.
I love to lift weights. I know you do too. It is hands-down one of the single most beneficial things you can do for your body. Add on the fact that it can make you look way better, live longer and even appear younger, and it just flat out floors me the shear number of people that are not spending more time figuring out the best way to do it.
In this article I’ll give you my take on one of the single most powerful questions all of you lifters out there should be asking yourself: When it comes to Slow weight lifting vs. fast weight lifting: Which should I be doing?
I’ve done faster, lighter lifts.
I’ve done slower, heavier lifts.
I’ve done a combination of both. And you know what… each has its place. I’m not naive enough to believe that “one size fits all” in every single instance. I mean, if you’re in a rush, you’re in a rush! You only have so much time at the gym so you need to hurry a bit. But if you have time, there’s some insanely great reasons you may want to slow your ass down!
I’m just going to share some thoughts – and science – on why I personally prefer long, heavy, slow lifts for maximizing muscle and burning fat. I’ve spoken a lot about intensity in the past. Intensity is the key to igniting your workouts guys. Period.
If you are doing cardio intensely it usually means you are sprinting or doing something like HIIT. I talk about that here. But when you are lifting weights, slow, controlled in both directions, is actually more INTENSE than fast.
Slowing down your lifts actually allows you to maximize intensity because your getting the full interaction of the muscle fiber in both directions. Simply put, if you slow down and focus on the full range in both directions, you are placing science directly on your side. One study in particular published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the difference between heavy load, low velocity and light load, high velocity lifting routines. Researchers concluded that the heavy, low velocity lifting could provide better training stimulus for your muscle because of the increased time under tension, power, force and total work production.
“Work production.” That’s the key. You need to make every single muscle fiber work if you want to maximize your results.
For those of you who are always in a hurry, it can be a real fricken’ chore to take your time though. I mean, you’re constantly trying to just get through your workout and so you cut corners. Most people do it. I’ve done it. But I try my hardest not to do it anymore!
Get this, my average lift time is right around 70 minutes.
A lot of instructors out there are saying that this is too long. I mean, guys who have substantial followings are actually telling their faithful readers who are trying to get better bodies that they shouldn’t lift over 35 minutes!
This is total b.s. though.
I mean. Seriously!
Can you imagine Schwarzenegger back in his 1970’s prime only going to the gym and lifting weights for 35 minutes at a time? Not going to happen!
Again, slow weight lifting. Actually slowing down how quickly you perform your reps in both directions. Focusing. Controlling. And forcing your body to work. Has a major benefit in that it recruits maximum muscle fibers.
The common thought is that a fast, explosive rep would be better at stimulating fast twitch fibers. This is not the case though. According to Henneman’s Size Principle:
Under load, motor units are recruited from smallest to largest. In practice, this means that slow-twitch, low-force, fatigue-resistant muscle fibers are activated before fast-twitch, high-force, less fatigue-resistant muscle fibers.
In other words… as more force is needed to move a weight, muscle fibers are recruited in a precise order according to their potential for force output.
In plain English, when you lift you will use smaller, weaker muscle fibers to propel weight until bigger ones are needed. You’re goal is to make damn sure the bigger ones are needed!
If you are lifting a moderately easy weight very quickly, you are not going to get fatigued throughout the progression of the set because your bigger “fast twitch” muscle fibers will likely not even be recruited much while under that light load.
Even without understanding the science behind this you can intuitively get this.
Just think of the typically workout you go through?
Most of you are not using weight that challenges you. As a result, you are able to complete the reps of each set very quickly and jump right to the next exercise in your routine. Your muscles have a very short time under load and you don’t get tired during your reps. The reason is that you are not using your bigger muscle fibers to their max capacity and therefor do not require a large amount of energy. Your method of lifting fast, moderate weight leads to some noticeable issues you are having…
- You’re not building more muscle and therefor unable to enhance the look of your body.
- Your’re not burning fat, and so you don’t look very “cut” or “ripped” either.
It’s a double whammy!
Concentric Vs. Eccentric Contraction
When a muscle is activated and required to lift a load it is entering the concentric phase.
During this concentric phase, such as when you push your bench press weight up, your muscle fibers are shortened. In contrast to that, during the eccentric phase of the lift when you let your bench down, your muscle fibers are elongated.
These two phases are also present in many other exercises like squat and pullups.
Here’s the surprising thing, studies have shown that the eccentric phase can actually have a larger impact on muscle strength and growth! I’m telling you – not 1 person in 20 who goes to the gym regularly understands this!
Take bench pressing for example, a lot of you do your set in a very quick manner in which you explode the weight up and then let it just basically fall back with a little bounce off your chest.
Not only is this greatly increasing your risk of injury, but you are neglecting to work the eccentric phase of your lift and it is costing you serious results. When you practice slow weight lifting movements in both the concentric and eccentric phases of the lift, you are actually greatly enhancing your potential for maximum muscle fiber recruitment and therefor, far greater muscle growth. This means letting that weight down slowly and in a controlled manner can be a major benefit to anybody who wants better results.
Not only on bench, but when squatting or doing other such movements. You want to be controlled guys. It’s hard for people because it can add some substantial time onto your current routines. The extra time is worth it for those of you who want to maximize your body though.
There is some pretty fascinating research of eccentric training that shows most of you have been seriously missing out.
In one study published in Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine titled Importance of eccentric actions in performance adaptations to resistance training middle aged men performed five to six sets of around 6 to 12 reps of leg press and leg extension two days per week for nineteen weeks. The group was split as follows:
- Group CON/ECC – 9 members – performed each rep of each set with both concentric and eccentric movements. That means when they leg pressed, they not only pushed the weight out (concentric), but they controlled it in (eccentric).
- Group CON – 8 members – performed only the concentric part of the rep. Only the the push portion of the leg press.
- Group CON/CON – 10 members – performed twice as many sets with only concentric actions
Also – the resistance was set for each group to ensure failure within the given number of reps. (In other words, each group was challenged to their max!)
The increase in each participants 3-rep max was taken after the training was complete 19 weeks later.
The results showed that CON/ECC had significantly greater increases in strength (as measured by 3-rep max) than both CON and CON/CON! The conclusion of the study can provide shocking insight into the reason many of you are not getting stronger or building muscle:
“The results indicate that omission of ecc actions from resistance training compromises increases in strength, probably because intensity is not optimal.” – bold text was added by me for emphasis.
The down right shocking fact of this for me is that the the CON/ECC group showed such improvements over the CON/CON group, who was doing twice the number of sets! But notice, while they were doing more sets, the work-load and intensity added to each set by doing the eccentric movements is far more important than total sets of not dong them.
It’s this added work load that causes the great benefits in muscle growth and fat loss combined.
30 Minute Lift Vs. 60 Minute Lift
All I can do is speak from my own personal experience here.
I’m currently performing a 4-day per week workout routine. Here’s an example of my Thursday push-pull lift.
I could definitely complete each workout in about 30 to 35 minutes if I rushed. I have done it before. This means far less rest between sets and generally using lighter weights, since they require far less recovery time between sets.
I’m telling you right now, when you actually use weights that challenge you it is going to require more rest between sets!
Listen though guys. My findings can really save your ass and help you maximize your body.
When I try to squeeze my lifts into just 30 to 35 minutes, my results are not as good as they could be if I focus on heavier weight over a full 60 minute time-frame and doing the full range of motion in a controlled manner. The way I see it, not only does slow weight lifting with heavier weight cause my per workout workload to greatly increase over the identical number of lifts… it also keeps my body in the fat burning state for far longer.
This is one of the single greatest reasons why I’m able to stay so lean, even though I’m only doing ten minute cardio session each week. If you are struggling to burn fat and build muscle and perfect your body, you may want to give this a shot guys.
Slow down. Take a deep breath. Do the work and you’ll notice the results far faster than if you try to cut corners!
Slow Weight Lifting Tips For Getting Started
Begin doing this by focusing on the eccentric phase of your lifts as we discussed above.
You’re going to find that each rep is far harder when you control the weight in both phases.
As a result, each exercise should take longer because you’ll typically need more time to rest between sets. You’ll probably find that your workout time goes up at least 15 to 20 minutes do to the increasing time required for each exercise, but that’s a good thing!
Also, if you find that the reps for each exercise are easy, add weight. Naturally, the more weight you add, the longer it will take you to get through each set, and this will force a greater portion of the muscle fibers to actually work. (If you truly want a sexier body, it’s dynamite to practice increased weight progression like I talk about in this post.) The benefits of this slower, heavier approach to your weight lifting will be an increase in strength and noticeable changes in muscle definition and growth!
This is no joke. It happens!
Many of you will also notice you’ll begin to burn way more fat!
Not over night. But if you stick with it and avoid the temptation to rush through your lifts, you’ll reap the benefits we discussed here.