When you think of exercise to build muscle, tone or improve your overall health, hours of sweating and straining in a gym or class likely come to mind. Or maybe, sprinting and quick harsh movements. What if you could get and maintain a healthy, toned body with simple slow movements using only your own body? Well, you can.
What is Slow Exercise?
Yes, slow exercise is actually a thing. It is a process in exercise that has been shown more beneficial than the traditional way of exercise. Slow training, sometimes called superslow training, originated in 1982 by Ken Hutchins. It was developed in an osteoporosis study with older women because of the need to utilize a safer speed for subjects to perform the resistance exercises.
With slow exercise you still perform the same movements, just at much slower speeds. Where you may perform 8-12 reps of a movement within a minute with traditional exercise, you would perform only 4-6 of the same movement during the same amount of time.
It essentially involves simply slowing down the movements. You will take longer to lower and rise or lift. This process has been shown to put more stress on the muscles during the workout period (which is what is needed for growth).
Studies have shown this slow speed of exercise actually results in superior strength gains. Another study showed slow exercise is not only more effective in improving strength, but also muscle mass, and aiding fat distribution.
What are the Benefits of Slow Exercise?
No matter what type of exercise you perform you should always aim to do the movement slow enough to have proper form and control. With slow exercise the goal is to slow it down even more. Think slow motion. While this will present superior results, do not discount the intensity of this approach.
1. Injury Prevention
A key benefit to slow exercise is injury prevention. With slow movements you are more focused on form and feeling the movement. This aids in keeping proper alignment to prevent injuries and the ability to stop a movement before an injury occurs. Slow exercise allows you to learn the movement correctly and repeat with a focus on form and proper technique.
2. Stronger, Toned Muscles
Slow exercise has been shown to produce more strength and muscle mass faster. The slow movement forces your muscles to hold the weight longer as it descends and ascends more slowly. In a traditional rep of movement there is a lot of momentum at work. This momentum ends up doing most of the work. The goal is to slow the movement to at least 2 to 3 times that of traditional movements. More load on the muscle for each movement (without added weight).
3. Open to Anyone.
Nearly anyone can perform slow exercises. The method of slow exercise was created to help elderly women with osteoporosis. It was designed to help the most frail regain strength and movement. The slow speed allows you to perfect your form from the beginning. It also allows you to simply start slowly. Someone without a large strength setting will benefit from the slower start, as will we all.
What are Examples of Slow Exercises?
Slow exercise is a method. It can be applied to any type of body movement. It is mostly seen applied to traditional workouts utilizing weights and machines, as well as to bodyweight exercises.
It is the process of taking the movement more slowly and purposefully that makes the difference. With any rep of movement simply take the movement as slow as you can on the way down and the way up. You can repeat these reps until muscle exhaustion (shake) or with timed increments, such as 1 - 2 minutes.
You can start today with whatever movement you typically use. Start by slowing them down and putting a focus on the movement and the muscles engaged.