If you’ve spent much time in a gym weight room, you may have heard the phrase, “slow and in control.” Taking it nice and slow while you lift weights can be very beneficial for a number of reasons. No matter what kind of workout you’re doing, you should always aim to go slow enough to ensure good form, but you may want to take it one step further and really press the slow-mo button on your reps.
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Indeed, lifting weights at a much slower rate than you’re used to be may the key to getting the results you’ve been searching for. Here’s why.
1. It Prevents Injury
When you lift weights slowly, you’re much less likely to injure yourself. That’s because you have the time to learn how to do each lift or curl properly, and focus on maintaining correct form with every repetition. Technique is much more important than speed when it comes to weight lifting, and quick, jerky movements can result in injuries. Of course, if you’re hurt, you’re unable to work out to your full potential, which will erase any progress you’ve made.
2. It Helps You Perfect Your Form
Not only are you at risk of injury when you lift quickly, but you’re also jeopardizing your technique. An exercise won’t do you any good if it is done incorrectly, so make sure you are taking the time to get the motion of the lift right with every single repetition.
3. You Can Build Larger Muscle Mass
Slow lifts can build muscle much faster than regular lifts can. This happens because lifting slowly forces your muscles to hold the weight longer. In a standard bicep curl, for example, a slow motion will keep your bicep activated the whole time. If you go faster, momentum will do a lot of the work for you, and your muscles will be active for a shorter amount of time.
4. It Fatigues Your Muscles
One of the main goals of lifting weights slowly is to fatigue your muscles until they fail. At a certain point you won’t be able to lift the weight anymore; this will send a signal to your body to repair the damaged muscle and instigate greater growth. This is called the in-road theory, which was developed by fitness trainer Ken Hutchins. When it comes to building muscle and getting strong, muscle fatigue is a very good thing.
5. Your Skeletal Muscles Get Stronger
Lifting slowly targets your skeletal muscles, which are are essential to everyday movements. Skeletal muscles use more energy than other muscles, therefore burning more calories. They also produce more heat and receive more blood flow. Activating and improving your skeletal muscle system will improve your stamina and overall strength.
6. Pretty Much Anyone Can Do It
Hutchin’s original method was developed when he was working with elderly women diagnosed with osteoporosis. The quick, uneven movements of typical weight lifting, especially for people with little muscle mass or physical limits caused by medical conditions, can be unsafe and unhelpful. By lifting slowly, with the proper technique and a little supervision if necessary, most people can get stronger and improve their health.
How To Lift Slowly
There are many methods for lifting weights slowly, but the basics are pretty straightforward: You should take much longer to perform each rep than you normally would, and take just as long on both the lifting and lowering motions. Ten seconds up and 10 seconds down is a good rule. Make sure not to rest very long in between exercises, to keep your muscles activated.
When you’re done with your workout, wait at least a day off before you do it again. Resting is just as important as the actual workout — it give your body time to repair and rebuild your muscles. Some versions of the super slow weight lifting workout even advise only working out once a week.