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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.

Click this slow lift video link if the videos below aren’t displaying.

This is a GIF of Matt squatting slowly.
Apologies for the pasty-white Irish thighs. I was on a budget. Soccer shorts are cheap.

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.  

Excruciating.

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.

Wha-wha-WHAT?

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.