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Slow Lifting (1 of 4): Definition and Motivation

What is Slow Lifting?

How can you trigger muscle growth in less than 2 minutes?

  • Find a moderate weight.
  • Pick up the weight.
  • Lift the weight slowly.
This is a GIF of Matt squatting slowly.

Not enough detail?

Read the Cliff Notes below or skip to the specifics in Part 2.

Slow Lift Protocol Summary

  • Pick an exercise – Squat, Deadlift, Row, or Press.
  • Pick a weight that’s about 50% of your 1 Rep Max.
  • Lift slowly so each rep takes 10 seconds – 5 up and 5 down.
  • Don’t pause at the top or bottom of the rep.  No breaks.
  • Complete 7-10 reps for that exercise.
  • Grab a chair and collapse.
  • Enjoy the rest of your day.
  • Seriously, you’re done.

That’s it. That’s the whole post.

That’s also HARD.  


Why Lift Slowly?

  • Because you can add muscle in 2 minutes when it takes most people 20 minutes.
  • Because you don’t have to spend much or any time planning your workouts.
  • Because the stronger you get, the less frequently you’ll work out.


As you get stronger and lift heavier, your muscles need more time to heal. That means you need more rest each day and/or more days between workouts.

How Slow Lifting Helped Me

Strategy is making choices and deliberately choosing to be different.

Michael Porter

I chose slow lifting because I wanted to let my body heal from five years of heavy CrossFit workouts and a lifetime of Sparring. I still love both, but I wanted to save time, focus on flexibility, and maintain my strength.

Those choices aren’t for everyone. That’s my strategy. I wanted to lower my body fat levels with less exercise time. I wanted to reclaim physical energy from long workouts and redirect it towards speaking, writing, business, and family.

Sounds weird? If you’ve ever felt brain-dead and couch-bound after a long workout, remember the hours you spent recovering to function normally. I traded off peak physical performance for more hours in the day with mental clarity. Overachievers might want both and trade-off something else.

If you’re interested in getting fit in less time, the good news is: Slow Lifting paired with Low Carb Eating worked. My body fat went down. I increased weight substantially on my major lifts using the slow lift criteria. I gained back time and energy for the rest of my life outside the gym.

There are no solutions, only trade-offs.

Thomas Sowell

Read Part 2 for how I exercised on the Slow Lift protocol, Part 3 for how I ate to support muscle growth and fat burning, and Part 4 for results, analysis, and who would or would not benefit from this workout.