Strength training at what might seem like a snail's deliberate pace can actually be a shortcut to a fitter physique.
We tend to rush through our strength routines, thinking rapid-fire repetitions are best. But slowing down may be the fastest way to get results. Researchers at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, found that men and women who decreased the tempo when lifting weights increased their strength about 50 percent more than those who worked at a â€śnormal paceâ€ť over a two-month period. Experts say the technique, known as â€śslow burnâ€ť or â€śsuperslow,â€ť is a safer, more efficient way to build muscle than standard weight training. It also helps you slim down. Another bonus: These moves can be done anywhere (no gym required). Intrigued? Try this total-body workout, developed by Michael Mincieli, co-owner of the Personal Training Institute in New York City, and see how quickly your body changes for the better.
Three times a week, every other day, do 3 sets each of these 6 moves. Each set lasts 2 minutes; aim for 12 reps per set. Rest briefly between sets.
What It Does: Firms abs and strengthens core
How to Do It: Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat. Interlace your fingers behind your head; keep head relaxed. Press your lower back into the floor and tighten your abs. Raise your shoulder blades off the ground to a count of 4; release and roll down to a count of 6. Repeat without pausing for 2 minutes.
What It Does: Strengthens shoulders, triceps, chest, and core
How to Do It: Kneel on all fours with hands slightly wider than your shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Extend your legs behind you and balance on your hands and toes; keep your body parallel to the floor. Tighten your abs and lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle (donâ€™t let your shoulders drop below your elbows). Keep your chin up and look forward as you push up with your arms for 4 seconds (keep abs tight). Without pausing at the top, lower yourself for 6 seconds. Repeat without pausing for 2 minutes. If you can no longer do full push-ups, lower to the floor (still taking 6 seconds) and use your knees to return to a plank position. Take less than 3 seconds between reps.
What It Does: Works glutes, thighs, and hamstrings
How to Do It: Place an exercise ball between your middle back and a wall. Stand with feet hip-width apart, and lower until your hips are in line with your knees. (Walk feet out so that knees are bent slightly more than a 90-degree angle.) Focus all of your weight on your heels (you should be able to lift your toes off the ground). Push through your heels to standing, taking 4 seconds. Lower yourself back down in 6 seconds. Repeat without pausing for 2 minutes.
What It Does: Strengthens shoulders, rotator cuff, triceps, and core
How to Do It: Sit on a chair or bench. Grab dumbbells and raise arms up and out to shoulder height, forming a 90-degree angle. Press up overhead for 4 seconds, then lower in 6. Repeat without pausing for 2 minutes.
What It Does: Tones shoulders and upper back
How to Do It: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides, palms facing your body, elbows slightly bent. Raise arms out to your sides (imagine leading with your elbow) to shoulder height for 4 seconds. Lower back down in 6 seconds, but stop before your arms touch your body. Repeat without pausing for 2 minutes.
What It does Works back, glutes, and hamstrings (Avoid doing this move if you have any lower back problems.)
How to Do It Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft. Grab dumbbells and hold them horizontally, palms facing your body, in front of your thighs. Keeping knees bent, bend at the waist and lower your upper body toward the floor as you push your hips back for 6 seconds. Keep your chin up and the weights as close to your body as possible to reduce stress on the lower back. When your hands reach below your knees, return to standing to a count of 4. Repeat without pausing for 2 minutes.