Is it true that the best way to build muscle is by doing really slow repetitions?
Several years ago, a study suggested that lifting weights slowly -14 seconds per repetition – increases strength faster than lifting at normal speeds.
But there was a flaw.
The slow lifters gained more strength in slow lifts than the others gained in normal speed lifts.
They never compared the two groups in absolute strength.
“There’s no one size fits all way to build muscle, you have to look at your training regime, your diet, even your genetic make up,” says Ceri Hannan, national fitness manager at Fitness First.
He suggests that to boost muscle fibre, you alternate between slow and medium speed repetitions to ‘shock’ your muscles.
“Generally, however, it’s better to push slower because it makes you concentrate on your technique and control more, which is the biggest problem,” adds Hannan.
As a rule, count to four lowering a weight, and to two pushing or pulling it up.
But don’t ignore speed completely.
A study from George Washington University in the US looked at slow versus normal lifting, comparing how much could be lifted for one repetition before and after a ten week training programme.
Those lifting weights at the normal speed gained 24% more strength than the tortoise trainers.
“Vary your workout speed as much as possible and, more than anything, don’t push weights above your station,” Hannan advises.