Is it time to lift slower?

This tip is not so relevant for people looking to increase explosive power and/or speed for a specific function or purpose (usually sport) but for people looking to add muscle, build overall strength, change body shape and minimize the risk of injury over time, it can be a nice addition to a training regime.

Okay, keep in mind that the purpose of weight training is usually to facilitate adaptation/change (strength, power, speed, muscular endurance, hypertrophy, function). Also keep in mind that there must be the right kind and amount of stress and intensity delivered the right way, for adaptation to be a by-product. And while many weight trainers focus on 'how heavy' they lift as their primary mechanism of stimulating gains, there are many ways to generate great results without always 'going heavy'. In fact, always going heavy is never a smart idea (or good science) over the long term.

So the relevant question is 'how do I force my muscles to adapt without constantly smashing them with heavy weights?' Well, there are numerous techniques but today, I want to discuss a super-simple but super effective principle: slow training.

Having said that, don't confuse simple with easy. It hurts. So the snapshot is... do whatever you normally do but much slower. For example, if you can smash out fifty push-ups in fifty seconds (one second per rep), try completing ten push-ups (the same movement) over fifty seconds (the same time frame), meaning you are now doing five second reps, slow and controlled, no jerking, no dropping to the floor, no speed, full range (chest to ground, arms locked out), no pausing at either end, no momentum, just strength and perfect form. Perfect!

Of course the same thing can be done with weights but naturally, the weight will need to be lowered. So, if (for example) you normally do bicep curls with an 80lb bar for 15 reps in sixty seconds (4 second reps), try reducing the weight to (say) 50lbs for 6 reps over sixty seconds, giving you ten second reps (five concentric, five eccentric). You'll need to experiment a little for your own needs but you'll get it soon enough.

Despite this being one of the most effective (and common sense) ways to create a positive training response, the majority of lifters will never do it because (1) it's hard (2) they don't like to be seen struggling with lighter weights (ego) and (3) it's not super sexy or fun.

Their loss.

Craig Harper