Fast – Slow Training

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass discusses the benefits of fast – slow strength training.

Several years ago, there was a lot of hype about “super slow” strength training; the ground-breaking philosophy was covered on the Today show and in Newsweek magazine. The premise of Super Slow training is to take each exercise very, very slowly — for example, taking 20 seconds to complete each rep (10 counts each direction) versus the usual 3 – 5 seconds per rep. The point is to limit momentum, and therefore, force your muscles to work harder to lift the weight. Super Slow training is also safer and more appropriate for women and seniors because the movement patterns are executed in a slow, controlled manner. In 2001, Super Slow training got mixed reviews — some people loved it, and some thought it didn’t burn enough calories for the average exerciser. In 2010, I think Super Slow strength training has a place in a every fitness program… but, most appropriately, when integrated into a “fast-slow” strength-training regimen. Here’s what I mean:

Take these five exercises and perform each one with the described “Fast-Slow” tempo pattern. You’ll be shocked at how challenging it feels to change go from one extreme tempo to the other… in fact, you might even be a bit sore–and that’s just the sign you are looking for if you want to see a change in your body.

How to do the “Fast-Slow” tempo pattern:

1) Do 5 reps “fast” (1-2 counts each direction)

2) Do 1 rep “slow” (8 counts each direction)

3) Repeat 1 – 3 times for a complete set

Now, try the “Fast-Slow” tempo pattern with these 5 exercises:


Get into a push-up position (either on toes or your knees) and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lower down toward the floor and then raise back up.


Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes facing directly forward. Push your weight through your heels and press your hips back like you are going to sit into a chair. Then lower your hips down to 45-90 degree bend at the knee and slowly push back up. Don’t let your knees push past your toes as you lower down.

Biceps “Serving”

Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or a body bar) and place your hands in front of your thighs with your palms facing forward. Then bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle and hold the weight in front of your belly. Next, push the weight up and forward (like you are “serving” a platter) until your arms are at chest level with a slight bend in the elbow. Then slowly lower back down.

Side Plank

Lie down on your left side and prop yourself up on your left elbow; make sure you body is in a straight, diagonal line. Place your right hand behind your right ear and slowly bring your right elbow down toward the floor by contracting the oblique muscles and using your abs to control the movement. Raise back up, complete a full set of reps on the left side, then switch sides.

Ab Crunch on the Ball

Sit on a stability ball and roll out until the ball in underneath the small of your back. Then place your hands at the base of your neck, keep your elbows out wide to the sides and keep your chin slightly lifted. Contract your abs (like a sponge, and your squeezing all the water out) and slowly raise up and lower back down.

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