I recommend lifting at a slow pace at least SOME of the time.
Slow lifting ensures your muscles are contracting over the full-range of a movement and it isn’t just momentum doing the work.
Fast lifting has its place too.
…but there is an additional benefit to lifting at a slower pace that I don’t believe I have covered on my blog.
Slow lifting can create a big surge in GH (Growth Hormone) levels.
A few benefits of GH?
- Stimulates collagen production (good for skin and joints)
- Preserves muscle
- Speeds up fat loss
Your body makes it naturally.
Exercise is a proven way to boost GH levels.
Some Hollywood actors inject GH to maintain muscle and look younger than their actual age.
I’m not a fan of needles.
I recommend training in a way that makes your body naturally produce this “youth hormone”.
A study came out a few years ago which found a specific slow lifting speed that greatly increased GH over a fast lifting speed.
(Credit to TC Luoma for tracking this study down.)
How big was this GH increase compared to fast lifting?
A 1700% greater increase in Growth Hormone.
What lifting tempo created these results?
I’ll get to that right after this short music break.
The music theme for this post is 70’s slow jams (slow tunes for some slow lifting).
The study was setup to compare the effects of doing the negative portion (lowering) of an exercise at a fast versus a slower pace.
The Fast Group: Performed 4 sets of bench press at 70% of their 1 rep max for 8 reps. They lowered the weight at their natural pace, which wound up being around 1 second.
The Slow Group: Performed 4 sets of bench press at 70% of their 1 rep max for 8 reps… except they purposely took 3 seconds to lower the weight during each rep.
The Slow Group (SEV) experienced a serious GH surge 15 minutes after the lifting session.
…much more than the Fast Group (FEV).
Image Credit: NCBI
This is a pretty impressive difference.
How beneficial is a large spike in GH?
If you were to ask me 10-12 years ago when I began my career as a fitness writer, I would have told you EXTREMELY beneficial.
It turns out that it does help, maybe just not as drastically as what many of us first believed.
A 1700% GH increase when compared to fast lifting?
This doesn’t mean that slow lifting is going to result in 17 times the fat burning…
…or 17 times better skin.
I wouldn’t even know how to measure perfect skin.
Maybe we should create a unit of measurement called JAI.
JAI is short for Jessica Alba Index.
A perfect JAI is 100.
Jessica is the only person who sometimes ventures above 100.
(I know that doesn’t make sense… just go with it.)
As a 47-year-old man with questionable skin genetics, I’m thinking my JAI is about 15.
Perhaps slow lifting to could get me to a 16-18?
The truth is, we don’t really know exactly what a 1700% surge in GH will do.
…but any increase helps.
How much slow lifting should you do?
All of my Visual Impact courses involve deliberate slow lifting for at least a portion of the workouts.
The study above shows a pretty darn impressive surge in GH by just doing a few sets of bench press.
They didn’t study the effects over a full workout.
My guess is that it there is a cap to how much GH rises from a workout.
I doubt twice the amount of sets would double the GH spike to 3400%.
Simply make sure you include at least a few slow-rep sets in your workout routine.
Even something as simple as 4 sets of a finishing exercise where you deliberately take 3-4 seconds to lower the weight.
Every little bit of GH surge helps.
…and if you have great genetics?
You may even reach 1/2 the JAI level of Jessica herself.
Which is still incredible.