Weight Training: How Quickly to Perform Reps

In a strength-training (or weight lifting) program, you need to understand how quickly you need to perform reps (repetitions) weights. You should take a full 2 seconds to lift a weight and 2 to 4 seconds to lower it. If you lift more quickly than that, you may hear a lot of clanging and banging (of the weights). Plus you’ll end up relying on momentum rather than muscle power. Going slow and steady yields better results because more of your muscle gets into the act.

Some trainers take this notion even further, advocating repetitions that last an excruciating 20 seconds or more, a technique called SuperSlow training. SuperSlow workouts may have a place in advanced exercise routines but are too challenging and result in too much muscle soreness for novice exercisers.

SuperSlow works like this: You take 20 more seconds (which means moving in super-slow motion) to do each repetition and perform 3 to 5 reps. Although the number of reps may seem low, keep in mind that SuperSlow lifters spend about twice as much time on each exercise as do traditional weight lifters, and some swear they see more rapid improvements in strength, although those improvements haven’t been borne out in studies.

This technique can be done with machines, free weights, or body weight (such as push-ups), and it’s very, very hard, because you can’t use any momentum the way you can with traditional weight lifting. SuperSlow training requires more patience than most people have, and even people who try it and like it rarely continue with the training. If you decide to try SuperSlow, it’s best if you’re coached through your reps by a trainer with experience using this technique.

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