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Super Slow, High-Intensity Resistance Workout

author image Lauren Whitney
Lauren Whitney covers science, health, fitness, fashion, food and weight loss. She has been writing professionally since 2009 and teaches hatha yoga in a home studio. Whitney holds bachelor's degrees in English and biology from the University of New Orleans.
Super Slow, High-Intensity Resistance Workout
Slow, high-intensity workouts focus on form. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Slow training might sound like a relaxed version of your regular routine, but lifting at a much slower speed still gives you an intense workout. Slowing down your workout lets you focus on your form and extends the contraction time of your muscles. While a slow-motion workout shouldn't replace a traditional workout, it has benefits that a typical session might not offer.

Theory Behind Slow Workouts

Weightlifters trying to lift a lot of weight must use momentum to help push the weight aloft. Momentum reduces the strain on your muscles, but during exercise, you must stress your muscles to build them. Lifting in slow motion removes momentum from the movement and makes your muscles work throughout the lift. Muscles contract for longer intervals, so a slower workout still feels quite challenging even with lighter weights.

Slowing Down, Increasing Intensity

Increasing the intensity of your resistance workout could involve increasing weight or reps. With slower lifting, you decrease weight and reps but dramatically increase your muscles' working time. While traditional biceps curls might take a couple of seconds, a slow, high-intensity curl lasts for a count of eight to 10 during each lifting and lowering phase. A concentric muscle contraction occurs when the muscle is shortened; an eccentric contraction places tension on an elongated muscle. Extending the duration of the lift works muscles in both concentric and eccentric contractions.

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Because your reduced speed lets you focus on form, you might reduce the risk of injury. With no momentum to wrench your limbs out of proper alignment, you have complete control over your workout. Lifting lighter weights for a shorter duration still supplies your muscles with an intense workout, making a slow-motion session easier to fit into a busy schedule. The National Strength and Conditioning Association found that while study participants who performed super-slow workouts didn't develop more strength than those who did regular-speed workouts, they did show an increase in endurance. These findings suggest that a slow-motion workout could be a valuable addition to a conventional workout routine to build endurance as well as strength.


Depending on your taste in workouts, you might find super-slow resistance training dull. While being bored during your lifting might not sound like a significant disadvantage, a workout that you don't enjoy often becomes a workout you skip. Current research shows no overall benefit to slow, intense training over conventional training. Slow-motion training might necessitate a new set of weights. Lifters who use their usual weights for a slow-motion workout could find their muscles becoming fatigued before they finish their normal number of repetitions.

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