If there’s one thing that kills me as a trainer, it’s when people think they have to spend hours in the gym to get results. If you are in the gym for hours, you aren’t working out intensely enough. Why waste your precious time for less results? If you workout hard and properly, you can get into shape in just a few minutes a day, a few times a week- no joke.
“Slow burn” is a term that exemplifies this. By slowing down the amount of time it takes you to complete a strength training repetition, you achieve muscle failure faster, in less reps. By spending more time on each repetition- about 60-90 seconds to complete a set of 3-6 repetitions- the slow burn method has proven to be a much more efficient weight training technique.
Simply slowing down your reps isn’t quite going to cut it. You must keep perfect form throughout every rep, which is difficult to do, especially for veteran lifters who are used to lifting their maximum weight. By slowing the reps down, momentum- a heavy lifter’s best friend- is eliminated, which cuts down on your chance of injury and better isolates the working muscles. Because of this, however, you will not be able to lift as heavy of a weight as you are used to.
Slow burn isn’t just a lifting fad: it’s science. According to Newsweek, in 1992, Dr. Westcott performed a 10-week trial testing normal strength training against slow burn training. His study showed that the slow burn method resulted in 50 percent better strength gains. He repeated the study in 1998, and found the same 50 percent increase. Dr. Westcott cites that spending more time on the concentric motion (the muscle shortening aspect of the rep) can more specifically target the muscle and takes the stress off of the joints.
Slow burn doesn’t work for cardio, and while it can be utilized while using weight machines, it is most effective while using free weights to complete isolated muscle exercises, where only one muscle is worked in one plane, like bicep curls or lateral shoulder raises. Body weight exercises can also be used, like push ups and squats, performed at half speed.