Strength Training as a Sleep Aid

The Importance of Sleep & How Strength Training Can Improve It

Woman sleeping after Strength Training

As we get older, it becomes more challenging to bounce back after we don't get a good night's sleep.

We have so many demands on our time—jobs, family, errands—not to mention finding the time to relax and have fun. To fit everything in, we often sacrifice… Sleep 😴.

But sleep has an impact on our mental and physical health. It’s vital to gaining strength, losing fat, recovering from injury, and your overall well-being.

To learn about the importance of sleep and how strength training can help improve the quality of Z’s you get, keep reading.

The Importance of Quality Sleep

Sleep helps you feel rested each day. But while you’re sleeping, your brain and body don’t just shut down. Internal organs and processes are hard at work throughout the night.

Over time, skimping on sleep can mess up more than just your morning mood. Studies show getting quality sleep can help improve all sorts of issues, from your blood sugar to your workouts.

So what is enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) defines “enough” as: “A sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves one feeling refreshed and alert for the day.”

The keyword there is spontaneous, or without an alarm clock. The exact number of hours necessary to achieve that refreshed feeling varies. Still, for most adults, it’s between 7 and 8 hours a night. Here are some great reasons to get enough sleep:

Sharper Memory

When you’re running low on sleep, you’ll likely have trouble holding onto and recalling details. That’s because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory. Without enough sleep, it’s tough to focus and take in new information.

Your brain also doesn’t have enough time to store memories so that you can recall them correctly later. Sleep lets your brain catch up, so you’re ready for new experiences.

Mood Boost

Another thing your brain does while you sleep is process emotions. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones.

Chronic lack of sleep can also raise the chance of having a mood disorder. [1]

One large study [2] shows that when you have insomnia, you’re five times more likely to develop depression, and your odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even higher.

Refreshing slumber helps you hit the reset button on a bad day, improve your outlook on life, and be better prepared to meet challenges.

Healthier Heart

While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle.

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, including stroke. A good night’s sleep might protect against a heart attack.

The Circulation Study, which looked at the sleep habits of more than 52,000 Norwegian men and women, found that people who have insomnia most nights of the week face a 30-45% greater heart attack risk.

“It’s important that people are aware of this connection between insomnia and heart attack and talk to their doctor if they’re having symptoms,” said lead researcher Lars Erik Laugsand, MD, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The reason for the link may be that not sleeping enough causes high blood pressure and hormonal changes. Short-term downtime can have long-term payoffs.

Steadier Blood Sugar

During the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle, the amount of glucose in your blood drops. Not enough time in this deepest stage means you don’t get that break to allow a reset — like leaving the volume turned up on your phone while listening to music all day. Eventually, the battery will crash and will need a recharge to keep going.

Your body will have a harder time responding to your cells’ needs and blood sugar levels. Allow yourself to reach and remain in this deep sleep, and you’re less likely to get type 2 diabetes [3].

Germ Fighting

To help ward off illnesses, your immune system identifies harmful bacteria and viruses in your body and destroys them. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work. They may not attack as quickly, and you could get sick more often. Good nightly rest can help you avoid that tired, worn-out feeling, as well as spending days in bed as your body tries to recover.

Weight Control

When you’re well-rested, you’re less hungry. Being sleep-deprived messes with the hormones in your brain — leptin and ghrelin — that control appetite.

With those out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods goes way down. And when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to get up and move your body.

Together, it’s a recipe for putting on pounds. The time you spend in bed goes hand-in-hand with the time you spend in the kitchen and in your workouts to help you manage your weight.

Sleep Your Way Muscle Growth

As we sleep, energy consumption is lowered, allowing us to use the high-quality food we eat during the day to more efficiently build muscle. Growth hormone is naturally released, improving muscular recovery and regeneration.

Also, as we sleep, the brain recharges. This is important for building muscle because a rested brain is a motivated and focused brain. In simple terms, when you sleep, you recover.

When you recover, you replace, repair, and rebuild—all of which are needed for optimal progress.

Lower Cancer Risk

A 2011 study [4] published in the journal Cancer found that people who averaged fewer than six hours of sleep each night had an almost 50% increase in the risk of colorectal adenomas, a precursor to cancerous tumors, compared to those who clocked in at seven hours a night.

One study author said the risk increase was comparable to that of having a first-degree relative with colon cancer. Although more research is needed on the sleep-cancer link, some experts think that the hormone melatonin, which has been linked to DNA repair, may play a role.

It’s no secret that struggles with sleep increase as we age. These issues come from a variety of causes: illnesses, side effects of medication, changes in circadian rhythm, increased sensitivity to light exposure, inactivity, and elevated nervous system activity, to name a few.

While no one wants to experience the mental fog that comes from sleep deprivation, there are more significant consequences to sleep loss.

Some researchers believe sleep issues contribute to many aging-related health issues.

Sleep Deficiencies

Sleep can be powerful… if we get enough of it.

We know about the many benefits of getting good quality sleep, but what about the effects of not getting a good night’s rest?

Check out some of the side effects of sleep deficiencies when quality sleep is not a part of your nightly norm:

  • Long Term Mood Disorders
  • Sickness
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Weight Gain
  • Low Libido
  • Heart Disease

What Affects Our Sleep?

More is not better when it comes to exercise is kind of our philosophy. And when it comes to getting good sleep, we think the same motto can be applied. Rather than finding all the things you can do to improve your sleep, a better question to ask yourself is — What can I stop doing?

Smartphones, TVs, and Technology

Bedtime routines nowadays commonly include scrolling social media or watching Netflix. Although it may be an attempt to wind down for the night, too much tech before bed can mess with your sleep.

Studies show that scrolling social media in bed before hitting snooze is associated with sleep and mood dysfunction [5]. Those who have higher “in-bed” scrolling times, over an hour or so, are more likely to have insomnia, anxiety, and short sleep times overall [6].

Tech before bed doesn’t just cause feelings of anxiousness, it affects the way our brains are wired.

Our circadian rhythm, a natural 24-hour cycle responding to light and dark, is most sensitive to light in the evenings. Naturally, when it gets dark and we approach bedtime, our brains produce melatonin which promotes sleep.

Research shows that exposure to LED lights, particularly in the evening hours, suppresses melatonin secretion.

So when the light from our phones, tablets, and TVs is pouring in, it interferes with sleep production, sleep efficiency, and quality of sleep.

Eating Before Bed

Latenight snacks and nightcaps. Sounds fun right?

We say go for it… sometimes. But when it becomes the norm, it’s likely doing more harm to your sleep health than good.

Studies suggest that eating later in the evening and closer to bedtime can lead to eating more meals overall, weight gain, and higher daily caloric intake [7].

In fact, the closer dinner time is to bedtime shows there’s higher increase of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) [8].

Alcohol and Sleep

A review of 27 studies [9] shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality.

According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while. Still, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. And the more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects. REM sleep happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. It’s the stage of sleep when people dream, and it’s thought to be restorative.

Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and rob you of needed Zs.

“Alcohol may seem to be helping you to sleep, as it helps induce sleep, but overall it is more disruptive to sleep, particularly in the second half of the night,” says researcher Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director at The London Sleep Centre.

“Alcohol also suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea,” or pauses in breathing that happen throughout the night. The more a person drinks before bed, the more substantial the disruption. “One to two standard drinks seem to have minimal effects on sleep,” Ebrahim says.

“REM is the more mentally restorative type of sleep,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Alcohol is not an appropriate sleep aid. If you rely on alcohol to fall asleep, recognize that you have a greater likelihood to sleepwalk, sleep talk, and have problems with your memory.”

Exercise Before Bed

What about exercising before bed?

Research shows doing vigorous exercise less than one hour before bed can potentially impair sleep quality [10].

While high-intensity exercise within an hour of going to bed can inhibit quality sleep, it's proven to be extraordinarily beneficial for quality sleep any other time of day.

You can schedule your high-intensity 20-minute workouts any time of day, ideally concluding at least one hour before bed.

How Does Strength Training Improve Sleep?

Thankfully, strength training works as a sleep aid for many men and women who were previously poor or average sleepers.

Strength training can improve sleeping habits in less than 10 weeks, although its possible benefits can happen even sooner.

While resistance training does not increase the ease of sleeping for all people, it also has not demonstrated negative sleeping effects on anyone in research. In other words, it won’t hurt, but it certainly may help.

For at least some people, just a small amount of strength training is all that’s necessary to notice a significant difference in sleep.

This was noticed in a study led by a researcher at Harvard [11] Men and women around 70 years old participated in a brief strength training program that involved five exercises that targeted the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body.

Each of these exercises was performed for one set with weights that were very challenging. The trainees exercised three days per week.

After 10 weeks, the strength-trained individuals experienced a 40% improvement in self-assessed sleep (according to detailed pre-and post-intervention questionnaires).

This was even more impressive when considering that the control group, who met twice per week for health education sessions, saw no improvement.

Dissecting the results even further, all 15 participants in the strength program either improved or remained the same. This indicates that, at the very worst, strength training won’t keep you up at night. If it has any effect, it will help you sleep.

The people in the study who strength trained were poor sleepers at the start and benefited from getting more sleep in a number of ways.

At the end of the study, self-assessed daytime dysfunction decreased and ratings of vitality and social functioning improved. Oddly enough, social functioning scores actually improved in the strength group more than the health education group, who socialized as part of their education classes!

Another study performed at Texas Tech University showed a similar improvement in sleep after three months of strength training with an older group who averaged closer to 80 years of age [12].

Female member talks about better sleep from strength training
Female testimonial on strength training and sleep

What have we learned?

Sleep is majorly important in our physical and mental well-being. It’s vital to recovering from workouts and helps to prevent mood disorders and sleep deficiencies.

We know that social media consumption, scrolling our smartphones, and watching TV as part of our bedtime routine is not only preventing us from falling asleep, it is impairing the quality of the sleep we get and contribute to anxiety and depression.

And taking comfort in snacks and alcohol late at night increases the chances of developing diseases such as GERD or sleep apnea, both of which cause intermittent sleep interruptions.

To increase your chance of quality sleep, strength train consistently and free yourself from the aforementioned deterrents in the remaining couple of hours before bed.

We’ve seen similar experiences with our members at The Perfect Workout. After they begin training with us, some report that they’re sleeping better than they have in years…or ever.

Although improved sleep is not promised, strength training is highly unlikely to hurt your ability to sleep…and can be a much more desirable solution than taking sleep aids or medications to help you catch some quality Z’s.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and start with a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Al-Abri, Mohammed A. “Sleep Deprivation and Depression: A bi-directional association.” Sultan Qaboos University medical journal vol. 15,1 (2015): e4-6.
  2. Neckelmann, D. et al., Chronic Insomnia as a Risk Factor for Developing Anxiety and Depression, Sleep. 2007; 30 (7): 873-880.
  3. Zhu B, Quinn L, Kapella MC, et al. Relationship between sleep disturbance and self-care in adults with type 2 diabetes. Acta Diabetol. 2018;55(9):963-970. doi:10.1007/s00592-018-1181-4
  4. University Hospitals Case Medical Center. (2011, February 8). Lack of sleep found to be a new risk factor for colon cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208112741.htm
  5. Sushanth Bhat, Genevieve Pinto-Zipp, Hinesh Upadhyay, Peter G. Polos, “To sleep, perchance to tweet”: in-bed electronic social media use and its associations with insomnia, daytime sleepiness, mood, and sleep duration in adults, Sleep Health, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2018,Pages 166-173, ISSN 2352-7218,
  6. Blume, C., Garbazza, C. & Spitschan, M. Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie 23, 147–156 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x
  7. Reid KJ, Baron KG, Zee PC. Meal timing influences daily caloric intake in healthy adults. Nutr Res. 2014;34(11):930-935. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.09.010
  8. Fujiwara Y, Machida A, Watanabe Y, et al. Association between dinner-to-bed time and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100(12):2633-2636. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.00354.x
  9. Ebrahim, I.O., Shapiro, C.M., Williams, A.J. and Fenwick, P.B. (2013), Alcohol and Sleep I: Effects on Normal Sleep. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 37: 539`-549. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.12006
  10. Stutz J, Eiholzer R, Spengler CM. Effects of Evening Exercise on Sleep in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2019;49(2):269-287. doi:10.1007/s40279-018-1015-0
  11. Singh, N. A., Clements, K. M., Fiatarone, M. A.  (1997). Sleep, Sleep Deprivation,  and Daytime Activities A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Exercise on  Sleep. Sleep, 20(2), 95-101.
  12. Ferris,  L.  T.,  Williams,  J.  S.,  Shen,  C.  L.,  O’Keefe,  K.  A.,  &  Hale,  K.  B.  (2005).  Resistance training improves sleep quality in older adults—a pilot study. J Sports  Sci Med, 4(3), 354-60.

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?

How long does it take to build muscle, before and after photo

“When will I see results?”

This is one of the most commonly-asked questions when someone starts The Perfect Workout. It’s also one of the most challenging questions to answer.

The answer is complex because it’s based on many factors. Also, “results” could mean many different things: fat loss, added strength, more energy, better sleep, or visible muscle growth.

It’s safe to say most people want to be able to see some muscle definition. So, in this article, we will discuss what the research says on when you should start noticing muscle growth, what are not signs of muscle growth, and how that timeline can be expedited.

Why We ALL Want Muscle

Before we deep dive into all things muscle growth, it’s important to keep this in mind – strength training is not just for growing bigger muscles. In fact, strength training does so much more for your overall health and longevity than simply looking toned and muscular.

  • Here are some good reasons to build muscle:
  • Avoid muscle loss
  • Avoid metabolic rate reduction
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Increase metabolic rate
  • Reduce body fat
  • Increase bone mineral density
  • Improve glucose metabolism
  • Increase gastrointestinal transit speed
  • Reduce resting blood pressure
  • Improve blood lipid levels
  • Reduce low back pain
  • Reduce arthritic pain
  • Reduce depression

As you can see from all those benefits, building muscle isn’t just for looks. But if you are concerned about getting “big and bulky” or want more information on how strength training affects men vs women, this might be the article for you.

Muscle soreness from muscle building on a woman's quads

Misleading Signs of Muscle Growth

Muscle growth starts almost immediately when strength training begins. However, gaining a noticeable amount of muscle takes a little longer. Before discussing a timeline, let’s talk about what are NOT indicators of growing muscles.

Muscle soreness

“I like being sore the next day because I know I did something.”

Most of us have said or felt this way after a workout.

Soreness, although gratifying for some, is not a sign of whether or not you stimulated your muscles to grow. Read that again.

Sore muscles simply indicate that you did something new or unusual for your muscles.

Walking 20 miles in a day would likely cause most of us to have sore leg muscles, but it won’t help to grow your muscles.

Early strength gains

Being able to lift increasingly heavy weights is typically a sign that your muscle cells are becoming larger. The exception to this is at the start of a new training program or regimen while your body learns to lift weights efficiently.

For the first few weeks, people gain strength due to neurological adaptations. In other words, the nervous system becomes more efficient and effective at stimulating coordinated movement on the exercises. This makes the movement [lifting heavy weights] more automatic and seemingly easier.

After a few weeks, gaining strength is primarily a result of muscle growth and less due to deceptive neurological adaptations.

The post-workout muscle “pump”

One of our favorite parts of the strength training experience is having swollen muscles following the workout.

Why?

It’s aesthetically pleasing (and we’re all a little guilty of checking ourselves out in the mirror once or twice after the workout). This effect, known as “transient hypertrophy,” is due to a short-term increase of blood plasma in and around muscle cells. It gives the muscles a temporary appearance of looking larger and more shapely … aka, the “pump.”

The pump only lasts a few hours and isn’t a direct indicator of muscle growth.

Before and after photos of muscle growth

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

Now that we know muscle soreness and a post-workout mirror check aren’t reliable ways to gauge muscle growth, how do we know when we’re building muscle? And how long does it all take?

The muscle growth timeline was studied by researchers at the University of Oklahoma. CT scans were conducted weekly on men who started a strength training program. Similar to The Perfect Workout, the participants in this study trained twice a week.

After just one week, muscle fibers became 3.5% thicker.

  • Muscles grew steadily after that point:
  • 4.5% larger at the end of week 2
  • 6% at the end of week 3
  • 6.7% at the end of week 4
  • 8% at the end of week 5
    Finished at 9.6% larger at the end of the study (eight weeks)

The conclusions are that muscle growth starts immediately and steadily continues after that point.

You might be thinking, but when will I be able to see more muscle definition? When is it noticeable?

Researchers noted that about 7-8% growth is the point when this change can be seen. According to the study, this should take about 3-5 weeks to start noticing muscle growth. And according to exercise researcher Dr. Ellington Darden, “Genetically gifted men can probably reach their maximum size in 24 months.” (Read: not the norm.)

How can people notice initial changes in muscle size?

Common ways to see this is clothes fitting differently, pants feeling tighter in the thigh or hip area, or “new” muscle lines appearing in the thighs or arms.

How to Build Muscle Faster

The timeline of 3-5 weeks is when you could start to see muscle growth. That timeline could be longer. Part of that timeline and how much muscle you grow in general, is largely determined by your training habits, other complementary habits, and genetics.

Genetics and biology do play a role in your potential for muscle growth, as discussed in our article about the differences between male and female muscle growth. In Dr. Ellington Darden’s book, The New High Intensity Training, he discusses genetic potential for muscle growth.

In short, the length of major muscles determine genetic potential for muscle growth because longer muscles can be wider and wider muscles lead to more volume. So you can’t do much about those sorts of things. But there are three key things you can do.

Here are three factors in your control that impact how much muscle you grow and how quickly you notice it.

1. Exercise consistency and frequency

How much exercise you do is a big factor in determining the amount of muscle growth. Training three times per week will likely increase muscle growth quicker than training once or twice per week.

Of course, you can plan to train three times per week, but if you are frequently missing sessions, those plans won’t convert to actual results.

It’s also important to know that training three times a week would only be beneficial if you’re trying to get bigger-sized muscles and that strength for longevity and better health is separate and sufficient with 1-2 workouts a week.

2. Full range of motion exercises.

The most common strength training error we see in gyms is a lack of full movement. For example, you might see this in a dumbbell curl where the person only lowers the weight halfway down before starting the next rep.

The vast majority of studies comparing full movement to partial movement show that lifting the full movement enhances muscle growth.

3. Eating enough protein.

Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids, which are used to repair and rebuild muscle tissue following workouts. The amount of protein you consume is critical to your rate of muscle growth.

Your daily intake in grams should be equal to or greater than your weight (lbs.) multiplied by 0.75.

For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., you should eat at least 113 grams of protein each day (150 x 0.75 = 113). If you weigh 200 lbs, eat at least 150 grams per day (200 x 0.75 = 150).

Summary

You might start seeing changes in your muscles around one month in. To gain more muscle immediately and in general, train frequently, consistently, use a full range of movement, and eat ample amounts of protein daily.

Whether you see the muscle changes, know that your body is changing in a positive manner after just one week. Your muscles are growing, you are gaining strength, and your health is improving in several ways that you may or may not notice.

If you want more information on how to incorporate slow-motion strength training into your workout routine, we have a free introductory session. If you’d like to know more about how to work with a trainer online, get a free consultation call with a Personal Trainer.

DeFreitas, J.M., Beck, T.W., Stock, M.S., Dillon, M.A., & Kasishke, P.R. (2011). An examination of the time course of training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. European Journal of Applied Physiology. DOI 10.1007/s0042-011-1905-4.

Deldicque, L. (2020). Protein intake and exercise-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy: an update.

Lemon, P. W. (2000). Beyond the zone: protein needs of active individuals. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(sup5), 513S-521S.

Schoenfeld, B.J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2018). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Schoenfeld, B.J. & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: a systematic review. SAGE Open. 

Schoenfeld, B.J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J.W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training in muscle mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.

Campbell, W.,Crim, M., Young,V. and Evans,W. (1994). Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60: 167-175. 

Evans, W. and Rosenberg, I. (1992) Biomarkers, New York: Simon and Schuster. Forbes, G. B. (1976). “The adult decline in lean body mass,” Human Biology, 48: 161-73. 

Harris, K. and Holly R. (1987). Physiological response to circuit weight training in borderline hypertensive subjects. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 19: 246-252. 

Hurley, B. (1994). Does strength training improve health status? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 16: 7-13. 

Hurley, B., Hagberg, J., Goldberg, A., et al. (1988). Resistance training can reduce coronary risk factors without altering VO2 max or percent body fat. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 20: 150-154. 

Keyes, A., Taylor, H.L. and Grande, F. (1973). “Basal Metabolism and Age of Adult Man,” Metabolism, 22: 579-87. 

Koffler, K., Menkes, A. Redmond, W. et al. (1992). Strength training accelerates gastrointestinal transit in middle-aged and older men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 24: 415-419. 

Menkes, A., Mazel, S., Redmond, R. et al. (1993). Strength training increases regional bone mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 74: 2478-2484. 

Risch, S., Nowell, N. Pollock, M., et al. (1993). Lumbar strengthening in chronic low back pain patients. Spine, 18: 232-238. 

Singh, N., Clements, K. and Fiatarone, M. A randomized controlled trial of progressive resistance training in depressed elders. Journal of Gerontology, 52 A (1): M 27 – M 35. 

Stone, M., Blessing, D., Byrd, R., et al. (1982). Physiological effects of a short term resistive training program on middle-aged untrained men. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, 4: 16-20. 

Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter, (1994). Never too late to build up your muscle. 12: 6-7 (September). 

Westcott, W. and Guy, J. (1996). A physical evolution. Sedentary adults see marked improvements in as little as two days a week. IDEA Today, 14 (9): 58-65. 

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines. 

He is also author of 20 fitness books including the new releases, No More Cellulite, Building Strength and Stamina, Strength Training Past 50, Strength Training for Seniors, Complete Conditioning for Golf, and Strength and Power for Young Athletes

The Impact of Strength Training and Inflammation

the impact of strength training and inflammation

woman with her hand on her knee hurting from inflammation
woman with her hand on her knee hurting from inflammation

It’s the reason why omega-3 fatty acid supplements have become popular in recent years.

It’s one of the major reasons why we floss. It’s a big detriment of smoking.

It’s the target of medications taken for arthritis, headaches, and menstrual pain.

Inflammation is one of the major players in the development of heart disease (some medical professionals think it’s the primary cause).

It’s a sign of atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes developments.

The list goes on and on…

Related Post: Strength And Your Health

We use the term “inflammation” often, but what exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself. When inflamed, our bodies are trying to remove or destroy an unwanted presence, such as foreign bacteria, or we are repairing damaged tissue.


Inflammation is good when the body attempts to heal itself and is successful…


However, it can become destructive when it’s not able to eliminate the cause of irritation and triggers disorders such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders or more serious illnesses like cancer.

Signs & Symptoms of Inflammation

Common signs of inflammation are swelling, redness, heat, and pain. But inflammation in the body can also show up in some unexpected ways. Below are some inflammatory responses to look out for:

Joint pain

The most common symptom people experience is sore joints, particularly in the knees, shoulders, and elbows. One easy way to understand if pain you’re experiencing is inflammatory is if it's been diagnosed with anything that ends in “itis.” Such as bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, etc.

Headaches

If you're somebody who experiences headaches or migraines on a chronic or regular basis, that could be a result of inflammation in your body.

Skin breaking out

Breaking out with pimples on your face, or experiencing itchiness, eczema, and rashes are signs of inflammation.

Weight gain

Unexplained weight gain, puffiness or bloating can be responses, particularly to inflammatory foods.

Digestive issues

Gastrointestinal complications and chronic tummy troubles are signs of an inflamed gut.

Allergy-like symptoms

Runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing may not be symptoms of an allergy, but inflammation.

Depression

Anxiety, mood disorders, and depression have been linked to chronic inflammation [2].

Fatigue

Feeling really tired or lethargic, experiencing insomnia, having trouble sleeping are common signs.

Frequent infections

Experiencing frequent infections can be a result of long-term inflammation.

Acute vs Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation can be acute or chronic, and the difference is critical. Examples of acute scenarios are sore throats, cuts on our skin, or irritated gums (which is why we floss, to prevent irritants). Acute inflammation is immediate but lasts for a few days or weeks.


Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a major issue. This occurs when an acute situation lingers, an autoimmune problem exists, or when there is some other chronic irritant. Chronic is the type found with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


Both acute and chronic can be localized in the body, but inflammation which affects the entire state of the body is known as systemic inflammation.


We measure inflammation by looking at cytokines.

What are cytokines?

Cytokines are proteins that influence the survival and proliferation of immune cells. They also have a key role in initiating the inflammatory response. Some cytokines are anti-inflammatory and some are pro-inflammatory.


Also, C-reactive protein (CRP) is another substance produced by the liver that indicates systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is considered as a sustained two-to-three fold increase in some cytokines and CRP.

Strength Training and Inflammation

Flossing, omega-3 fatty acid intake, and low-intensity physical activity help decrease systemic inflammation. However, strength training’s impact on inflammation isn’t as well known.


Researchers at the University of Connecticut recently analyzed the few studies that do exist on the relationship between the two [1].


Microscopic muscle damage occurs during strength training, especially during the lowering phase of a repetition. The researchers found a variety of results with strength training and inflammation….

Does Lifting Weights Cause Inflammation?

As a result of workout-induced muscle damage, inflammation rises in the short term, and the production of several cytokines increases (although not all are pro-inflammatory).


As a whole, the cytokines released right after strength training have two major responsibilities: repair the muscle damage and regulate new muscle growth. Both are positive responses.

Does Weight Training Reduce Inflammation?

Fortunately, strength training also actually improves chronic inflammation. A 12-month study using strength training with overweight women averaging 39 years old showed a decrease in CRP.


A nine-week study featuring young men and women training with heavier weight loads caused a decrease in one pro-inflammatory cytokine.


Strength training also improved CRP in a three-month study with old and young populations. These were just some of the positive results reported by the University of Connecticut researchers.


The researchers did note that intensity was a key factor. A seven-week study of young men showed that heavy resistance strength training improved two anti-inflammatory cytokines to a greater extent than lighter weight strength training. Another important factor was rest. According to one study, when adequate rest isn’t achieved, exercise can be pro-inflammatory.


What is the mechanism causing strength training to benefit chronic inflammation? The researchers stated that muscle gained from strength training increases the body’s daily energy expenditure (metabolism) and insulin sensitivity (a state key to preventing diabetes), and both of those results decrease the requirement for pro-inflammatory cytokines and CRP.

Should You Strength Train or Not With Inflammation?

Overall, strength training increases some acute inflammation markers by breaking down muscle tissue, but those markers lead to long term health benefits by rebuilding the muscle stronger.

Therefore, strength training’s positive effects on chronic inflammation levels are probably part of why it is shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

To maximize your health gains, eat well, train with a challenging strength training program (like slow-motion training!), and get adequate rest between your workouts.

If you want more information on how to incorporate slow-motion strength training into your workout routine, we have a free introductory session. If you’d like to know more about how to work with a trainer online, get a free consultation call with a Personal Trainer.

1. Calle, M. C., & Fernandez, M. L. (2010). Effects of resistance training on the inflammatory response. Nutrition research and practice, 4(4), 259-269.


2. Lee, C. H., & Giuliani, F. (2019). The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue. Frontiers in immunology, 10, 1696. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01696

Your Best Chance at Quickly Recovering from Surgery… Or Avoiding it Altogether

Prehab Is Your Best Chance At Quickly Recovering From Surgery

“When my doctor gave me two choices about the pain in my right shoulder- Either live with it or have surgery, I felt hopeless.”- Sherry Chriss, client.

Facing surgery is scary and quite common for a lot of adults. Although every surgery can’t be avoided, one solution to prepare for a swift recovery and potentially avoiding surgery altogether is slow-motion strength training. We call this prehab or “prehabilitation” and it’s happening in our studios and virtual training sessions every day.

Prehab for Total Knee Replacement

One of the most common surgical procedures our clients face is a Total Knee Replacement (TKRs), and they are as popular as ever. More than 381,000 TKRs take place every year, and researchers expect that number to grow six-fold in the next 20 years [1].

The surgery can be very helpful as it enables people with severe knee osteoarthritis to decrease or eliminate their pain while improving their functional ability. However, a TKR also leads to a period of inactivity during recovery, and that inactivity has drawbacks. People lose about 60% of their quadriceps strength within the first month following surgery.

Considering that information, it’s no surprise that people with TKRs have demonstrated slower walking and stair-climbing speeds when compared to their peers.

Medical Diagram of a before and after total knee replacement

Studies Show...

Researchers at the University of Louisville conducted a study comparing people who “prehabbed” against those who did not (control group) for five months prior to surgery. Like our clients, the individuals who strength trained fared very well.

The exercise group trained three times per week prior to the surgery, including exercises such as the leg curl and leg extension. Following the surgery, both groups received the same physical therapy.

Watch one of our clients on the Leg Extension! 

Before the surgery, strength training prevented knee pain from increasing and improved the participants’ functional abilities like getting up from a chair, walking speed, and stair-climbing speed.

One month after the surgery, the control group experienced losses in quadricep strength and walking speed, whereas the exercise group did not (when compared to baseline tests). Three months later, functional ability and strength in the operated leg were greater in the exercise group. 

Overall, the study found quadriceps strength was associated with greater functional ability and less knee pain. Researchers in a study out of the University of Delaware found the same connections when monitoring quadriceps strength days before and one year after a TKR [2].

They also noticed that quadriceps strength before surgery also predicts dynamic balance a year after surgery. Dynamic balance is tested by seeing how quickly a person can stand from a chair, walk around a sharp turn, and then return to the chair.

Balance and strength are some of the most important benefits of slow-motion strength training, especially in older adults who fear falling.

How Long Do You Prehab For?

If a TKR or any other major joint surgery is in your future, you might wonder how long you should train for prior to the procedure. As mentioned, the study included five months of prehabilitation, although we have clients who have only trained for 3 months leading up to their surgery and still experienced a quick and less-painful recovery period. Obviously, the earlier you start, the more strength you will build prior to surgery.

The process of strengthening before a surgery just makes sense. The joints are healthier when their surrounding muscles are stronger. Strength training before a joint replacement surgery allows you the opportunity to build healthier joints and muscles that you will simply work to maintain after surgery, instead of having to build them for the first time.

If a surgery like TKR is in your future, or you want to do whatever you can to avoid one, slow-motion strength training is the solution.

Clients Who Have Avoided Surgery:

In addition to those who have prehabbed before surgery, we’ve helped many people prevent injuries and avoid surgery altogether.

Michael Slosek

Michael, 66, had been told by his doctor that he needed a hip replacement. He also wanted to lose weight, gain overall strength and stamina, and a 20 minute workout was very appealing to him. Michael’s strength training results speak for themselves:

  • No longer has back or hip problems
  • Has more energy and stronger muscles
  • Able to hit the golf ball 20-30 yards further at the driving range
  • Has been able to avoid hip replacement surgery


“The Perfect Workout has a great thing going. You feel like you have a workout when you come here. I’ll continue to do it.”

Mary Jane Bartee

When you have medical conditions like fibromyalgia, osteopenia, and pelvic prolapse, you’re going to be very careful about exercise. “Anything that’s fast-moving and aggressive aggravates it,” says Mary Jane (MJ) Bartee. Slow, safe movement is what first appealed to her about slow-motion strength training. MJ’s strength training results are nothing short of fantastic:

  • Her most recent bone density test showed that her osteopenia is gone
  • The pain from her other conditions is more manageable, resulting in less medication
  • Her pelvic prolapse has greatly improved, to the point where the doctors aren’t talking about surgery anymore


“It’s quick and accommodating,” says MJ. “20 minutes and I’m done. It’s something I do for myself, and as long as I’m functioning as well as I am, I’ll stick with it.”

Her Story of injury prevention

Sherry Chriss

After unsuccessful physical therapy and cortisone shots for an injured shoulder, Sherry was desperate for an alternative to surgery. She was also distraught about the effects of menopause, including loss of bone density, decreased upper body strength, and weak legs. A year after she began strength training at The Perfect Workout:

  • Sherry’s bone density scan improved, surprising even her doctor.
  • She no longer has shoulder pain, and no longer needs surgery.


“I enjoyed it right off the bat, and little did I know how fantastic it would turn out to be. My husband and I have both seen great results, so we’re committed to doing The Perfect Workout for the rest of our lives!”

Don’t wait for post-surgery to start building up strength. In fact, surgery may not be necessary if you take action now. It only takes 20 minutes, twice a week and you’ll get a lifetime workout guaranteed to get you stronger.

  1. Topp, R., Swank, A. M., Quesada, P. M., Nyland, J., & Malkani, A. (2009). The effect of prehabilitation exercise on strength and functioning after total knee arthroplasty. PM&R, 1(8), 729-735.
  1. Mizner, R. L., Petterson, S. C., Stevens, J. E., Axe, M. J., & Snyder-Mackler, L. (2005). Preoperative quadriceps strength predicts functional ability one year after total knee arthroplasty. The Journal of rheumatology, 32(8), 1533-1539.

Full Range of Motion While Strength Training

Full Range of Motion While Strength Training

Female Lifting weights with full range of motion

Strength training isn’t simply “lifting things.” In fact, there’s a science to strength training. When that scientific approach is used, great results are achieved.

One of the pillars of exercise is effectiveness – and one science-backed way to ensure exercise is effective is to lift challenging weights using full range of motion movements. (Pushing or pulling a weight as far as you can possibly go on an exercise.)

Unfortunately when many people do lift challenging weights, they sacrifice range of motion.

  • Examples of shortcutting range of motion include:
  • Leg Press: Beginning with the thighs far away from the body instead of closely, leaving very little room for movement.
  • Leg Curl: Not pulling the heels all the way back on the leg curl, past 90 degrees.
    Biceps: Curling the weight 90 degrees or less before lowering the weight.

This is concerning as full movement is key to achieving the benefits of strength training!

Full and Partial Range of Motion
Source: Health Fitness Club Connect

Why Do People Lift With Limited Range Of Motion?

Before we get into the benefits of full movement, why do people lift with partial ranges of motion? There are a few reasons:

  • Lack of awareness of good form. We’re not all exercise professionals. Many people we’ve seen in public gyms simply might not know what full range of motion is, or they don’t know it’s value.

  • Strengthening a part of a movement. Our muscle strength varies in an exercise. On the leg press, we are weakest at the start and strongest when our knees are almost straight. Some use partial reps in the weakest part of the movement to gain more strength. Your personal trainer might recommend this if they feel it’s the best course of action to modify an exercise and help reach your goals.

  • Limited joint movement. For older adults, people with arthritis, or people who had periods of severe inactivity (i.e. bed rest), joints may be very stiff. Thankfully, for those of you who fall into this group, strength training will help you increase range of motion by lengthening muscle fibers and reduce stiffness by producing synovial fluid, an oily substance made by the body to lubricate joints (Interdisciplinary Toxicology). In fact, a research article featuring 11 studies and over 450 people concluded that strength training is just as effective as stretching for improving joint movement.

  • Injury/pain. If you have a joint which was previously injured, has pain, or is arthritic, it’s possible that you are performing a partial range of motion in some exercises. This is a wise approach as it’s better to move in a limited but pain-free range of motion than to avoid the exercise entirely. Your personal trainer might recommend this if they feel it’s the best course of action to personalize the exercise to your body’s needs.
Partial Range of Motion Infographic

Benefits of Training With Full Range of Motion

Unless pain, injury, or joint stiffness limits movement, The Perfect Workout’s trainers coach lifting through a full range of motion on each exercise. This is intentional and one of the important ingredients in The Perfect Workout formula.

There are a few benefits to training with a full range of motion:

  1. More strength gained. People who train with a full range of motion gain more overall strength than those who train in a partial movement.

  2. More strength at all angles. If you only perform only half of the leg press movement, your thighs and butt will only become stronger in that half of the movement. Therefore, training through a full movement leads to greater muscle strength at all angles of a joint’s movement.

  3. Additional muscle size growth. In almost every study comparing full versus partial movements, using a full range of motion led to superior muscle gains.

  4. Increased flexibility and reduced stiffness. Using as much range of motion as possible in a strength training exercise will help lengthen muscle fibers and reduce stiffness by producing natural joint-lubricating synovial fluid in the body (Interdisciplinary Toxicology).
Benefits of Strength Training with Full Range of Motion

How to Find Your Ideal Range

Not everyone’s range of motion is going to be the same. Finding your ideal range of motion on an exercise may require a little bit of trial and error in the beginning. Your trainer will adjust every exercise to your body’s needs, including range of motion, using a combination of “adjustment points,” “axis points,” “hole gaps,” and other seat settings.

Adjustment Points

Adjustment points help to… that’s right, adjust parts of the machine to properly fit your body. Whether you are long in the torso or short in the legs, your trainer will use adjustment points to align your joints to the right place and help find your perfect seat setting and range of motion.

Most adjustment points are easy to find on machines because they are often brightly colored handles or pins. Look for yellow dots or handles on our Nautilus machines.

Axis Points

Some machines also have what we call axis points, or axis of rotation. These are typically seen on isolation exercises where one muscle group is targeted and one joint is used, like on our Preacher Curl machine.

Think of these axis points as guides to be lined up with the joint used during the exercise. On our Preacher Curl there is a red dot that serves as an axis point for the elbows. Ideally, you want the elbow joint lined up with this point the entire exercise to allow for proper extension and flexion during the range of motion.

Most adjustment points are also brightly colored and just as easy to find on machines. Look for red axis points on our Nautilus machines.

Axis points for finding your range

Hole Gaps

Hole gaps help increase or decrease the distance of an exercise’s starting point (and therefore the total distance traveled in an exercise) by inserting a pin to hold a gap between a weight plate or set of plates in a weight stack. For instance, someone with shorter arms using a Compound Row machine would want to increase the hole gap to bring the handles closer to them so that they can reach the handles at the beginning of the exercise.

Your trainer may also increase a hole gap to create an easier range of motion at the beginning of an exercise, or decrease a hole gap to make the exercise more challenging.

It may feel a little bit like musical chairs when trying to figure out your ideal range of motion and seat settings. Get in the machine. Get out. Make an adjustment. Repeat until you find your sweet spot. Luckily, all trainers at The Perfect Workout are experts and finding this for you and can do so quickly.

Hole Gaps for finding your range

If you are reading this but use partial movements due to past injuries or pain, don’t stress. You can still gain strength and muscle in a partial range of motion.

Ideally, your joints will become stronger and healthier over time. As this happens, you and your trainer will increase the range of motion until eventually reaching a full movement.

Client Testimonial from The Perfect Workout

Training through a full movement leads to better results. The Perfect Workout’s trainers will ensure that you are safely lifting as far as you can during each exercise. As a result, you’ll become the strongest and fittest “you” possible.

  • Afonso, J., Ramirez-Campillo, R., Moscao, J., Rocha, T., Zacca, R., Martins, A. … Clemente, F.M. (2021). Strength training is as effective as stretching for improving range of motion: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • Pinto, R.S., Gomes, N., Radaelli, R., Botton, C.E., Brown, L.E. & Bottaro, M.J. (2012). Effect of range of motion on muscle strength and thickness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2140-2145.
  • McMahon, G.E., Morse, C.I., Burden, A., Winwood, K., & Onambele, G.L. (2014). Impact of range of motion during ecologically valid resistance training protocols on muscle size, subcutaneous fat, and strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1), 245-255.
  • Schoenfeld, B.J. & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: a systematic review. SAGE Open.

The Inspiration that Created The Perfect Workout with Founder Matt Hedman Pt. 1

The Inspiration That Created The Perfect Workout With Founder Matt Hedman Pt. 1

The Inspiration That Created The Perfect Workout With Founder Matt Hedman Pt. 1

The workout Inspiration that created The Perfect Workout

The Perfect Workout began in 1999 with one trainer, in one studio, delivering one remarkable workout.

But the origins of our company didn’t exactly begin with a grand vision to Revolutionize the Way People Exercise. It started when Matt Hedman was diagnosed with a progressive joint disease at age 20 and was faced with the possibility of undergoing major joint surgery and giving up his passion for exercise.

In part one of this multi-part series, we sit down with Matt Hedman, the CEO and Founder of The Perfect Workout for a glimpse into the inception of our company, a greater understanding of our methodology and the man behind it all.

Play Video

Ever since Matt got his first weight lifting set at the young age of 10, he’s been all in when it comes to fitness. Which means he has been actively strength training for 38 years.

Between the ages of 10 and 20, Matt describes the way in which he used to lift weights as “haphazardly doing whatever,” following whatever he read in the latest exercise book that he was reading.

By the time he was 20 years old, he was lifting weights for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week… that’s 12 hours of lifting weights and exercising per week. That's almost a part time job!

matt hedman lifting weights at a young age

The Injury

Matt was in college and had developed a chronic pain in his left shoulder. It was so painful that even writing would hurt.

He eventually went to a specialist who x-rayed his shoulder and told him he had Osteolysis, which means “vanishing bone.”

The x-ray found that the end of the bone should have been nice and round and smooth. Instead, it was all jagged and there was so much inflammation in the shoulder, the bone was actually being eaten away.

The specialist told him this only happens in about 1% of people that lift weights. She instructed Matt to take two months off of any weight training exercise which involved the shoulder, then they’d x-ray again and see if the issue had improved.

When Matt returned for his follow-up x-ray, the bone in question had become round and smooth again. Fortunately, it had healed, which ultimately allowed him to avoid surgery.

He was given the green light to lift weights again with some minor adjustments to exercises. Eager to exercise his upper body again, Matt went back into the gym and resumed lifting weights in the “haphazard” way he always did.

“My shoulder just started to hurt again, which was disturbing and frustrating. I was 20 years old, presumably someone who'd be young and healthy and have the best opportunity to not have joints that would hurt.”

weightlifters shoulder injury human anatomy
image source: shoulder and elbow specialist

The Experiment

During this time, Matt attended the University of Washington in Seattle and stumbled upon a book in a bookstore at the University District.

It was a book by Ellington Darden, who used to be the director of research at Nautilus, the company that makes strength training machines we use in our studios. He's written about 50 books on strength training, nutrition, fitness and exercise. This particular book was geared towards young males who wanted to build bigger muscles, Bigger Muscles in 42 Days.

One of the chapters spent a significant amount of time talking about how slower movement speeds minimize impact forces on your joints and make it safer for your joints. That peaked Matt’s interest since he was experiencing his own issue with his shoulder.

The routines in Darden’s book sounded bizarre to him because at the time he was loosely following the exercise guidelines from Arnold Schwarzenegger's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. Matt was doing five sets of 10 repetitions or so of each exercise and was still working out 2 hours a day, 6 days a week.

“I was in college and I didn't know how much exercise that was. Now with being 48 with two young children and trying to grow our company, it's like, “Who would ever have time for that?”

At the time, it's all he knew. The routine from Darden’s book included working out every other day for about a half an hour per workout, just one set of repetitions per exercise, going very slowly 10 seconds up, five seconds down.

Matt was thinking, ‘Oh gosh, will this ever work?’”

Fortunately, there was a case study in that book that featured Keith Whitley, a big bodybuilder. During the six week program he gained 32 pounds of muscle in 42 days. That proof, combined with the shoulder problem Matt was facing, was motivation enough to give it a try.

Strength training body builder results

So he did and Matt gained significant results, very quickly.

Matt put on 10 pounds of muscle in the first 9 days of his new workout regimen.

“I thought I was working hard before when I was working out 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. It turns out I just didn't know what hard work was.

Once I learned how to make my muscles work harder, I put on 10 pounds of muscle in 9 days.

Matt Hedman

Matt’s shoulder problem also went away within about the first week and never bothered him again.

“I've been a raving fan of this method ever since. I've been personally doing this and variations of this in my own workouts for the last 28 years.”

Despite being passionate about fitness and spending more than enough time in the gym, Matt was not in the fitness industry. He had earned his degree in Aerospace Engineering.

“I went to work for GE nuclear energy in San Jose and saw my life flashing before my eyes in the second floor building in the GE complex and it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life.”

So he quit after 11 months and started working at 24-Hour Fitness. He worked for them and another fitness company for a total of 3 years before starting The Perfect Workout back in May of 1999.

During the 3 years prior to starting The Perfect Workout, Matt acquired several different certifications from mainstream fitness organizations like American Council on Exercise and National Academy of Sports Medicine. But the most important certifications he acquired were through the Super Slow Exercise Guild.

Matt became a Master SuperSlow Instructor under the apprenticeship of Ken Hutchins, the architect behind SuperSlow exercise philosophy and methodology.

There were 3 different levels to becoming a Master SuperSlow Instructor:

Level 1: was more extensive than any of the other mainstream certifications Matt had received. ACE or NASM certifications (which are still common today) generally involve a multiple choice test, and if you scored 70% you were certified. The SuperSlow Level 1 certification involves at least one written test if not more, one or two verbal tests and an extensive practical examination showing that you were capable of teaching exercise.

Many aspects of that certification became the inspiration for The Perfect Workout’s certification program.

Level 2: involved more written and oral testing with Ken Hutchins, building on the work of Arthur Jones (the inventor of Nautilus),but really putting some further refinements to it. Matt spent 9 days shadowing Ken for 14 hours a day and doing various tests.

Level 3: it was up to Ken Hutchins to appoint the achievement of Master Instructor. Once Level 3 was passed, Matt represented the guild and was then able to certify other instructors to be level 1 instructors.

Matt Hedman slow motion leg press at The Perfect Workout

The Workout

After becoming SuperSlow certified, a unique exercise experience sparked an idea in Matt that would eventually transform into the beginnings of The Perfect Workout.

He was visiting friends in Seattle and knew there was a facility nearby that used the slow-motion method. Greg and Ann-Marie Anderson owned Ideal Exercise and Greg would be the one to put Matt through a very memorable workout.

Matt was coached through just 4 exercises: the Smith Machine squat, the old Nautilus hip and back machine (a glute and hamstring exercise), weight assisted chin up and then a push up.

The Machine that brought Matt to his knees!

While on the Smith Machine he began doing some repetitions, and sure enough it got extremely difficult five or six reps in. In the next rep or two, he got about halfway up and couldn't complete the repetition, he was pushing as hard as he could.

“There was no music going on. There was a blank white wall right in front of me. There's no distractions and Greg was somewhere behind me. All I could hear was his voice saying, ‘Keep pushing!’ Then I got to the point where I couldn't even hold it up anymore. I was trying to make it go higher, but I couldn’t even hold it still and sort of forcing me down and Greg just said, “Keep pushing.”’

By the way, Matt doesn’t recommend doing exercises to this extent anymore. Pushing to muscle success is crucial, but pushing beyond that for 5, 15, 30 seconds is unnecessary. It’s much more than a person needs to train for optimal results. He states, “We just didn't know any better back then.”

Once Greg gave Matt the okay to back off from pushing, Matt’s legs were so fatigued he could not stand up. So what did he do? He crawled to the next machine!

After the 4 exercises were done, Matt found himself lying on the ground with arms burning and Greg brought him this tiny little 2oz cup of water and all he could think was… “this is incredible!”

He compared his experience with what he was trying to do in his own workouts and with his clients back at 24-Hour Fitness. It was night and day as far as the distraction-free environment, the incredible low-friction equipment, and expert instruction.

He thought to himself, “Hey, I could make a place like this down in Southern California.” But first, he went to work for Greg and Anne Marie at Ideal Exercise for about a year, had a short stint at 24-hour fitness again and then opened up the first location of The Perfect Workout.

In May of 1999, Matt founded our first location in La Jolla, California and was the owner, operator and only trainer at the time.

Matt continued to train clients one-on-one for a number of years as he gradually began to certify others and grow the business into the 60+ location, nationwide company it is today.

Matt Hedman Coaching a client at The Perfect Workout

The Impact

It’s been years since Matt has personally trained clients, but some memorable stories still stick with him.

“Barbara Nas– she was a cancer survivor. I know she was at least a grandmother or might have been a great grandmother and I think also had MS. She had multiple different conditions which were going on. She was able to walk but she needed to use a cane to walk. John (her trainer) used to say he could always hear when Barbara was coming in because he could hear the clacking of the cane coming down the hallway before she opened the door and came in

There was one day where she was supposed to come in and there wasn't any clacking of the cane, and the reason was because she didn't need to use her cane anymore.

In other words, she was able to get strong enough to where the cane was no longer necessary. I've seen John tell the story before and just the look of satisfaction on his face and saying, ‘I thought my biggest success was going to be someone gaining 20 pounds of muscle or losing 50 pounds of fat or whatever, but that was probably the most satisfaction that I've had is hearing her walk down the hallway without the clicking of the cane.’”

We've been fortunate as a company to have helped many more like Barbara improve the quality of their lives in this way.

When Matt first became a personal trainer, he did it because he was just really interested in exercise. He didn’t really have any idea that he would be doing more to help people beyond losing weight and building muscle…

Matt Hedman coaching a female client at The Perfect Workout

When he was working at Ideal Exercise up in Seattle, there were a number of people with MS they worked with. “One woman in particular who needed to use a walker to walk and even then she could barely walk even with a walker but she told us if it wasn't for the strength training she was doing with us she wouldn't be able to walk at all.”

It was then he noticed that slow-motion strength training benefits went beyond getting bigger muscles and leaner bodies.

Over the last 20 years, the impact of The Perfect Workout has directly reached over 30,000 people including Matt’s own family.

Matt is husband to wife, Julie, and father to two adorable children, Jack and Ava.

Julie and many other family members have also incorporated slow-motion strength training into their fitness routines. But being able to provide this method to his own mother is particularly special.

At 78 years young, Matt’s mom has been actively training at our Mission Valley studio for years and is currently working out in her senior living facility with our Virtual Training Program.

If having a son as the CEO of a personal training company wasn’t enough, she actually had an even greater motivation to exercise in this way.

Matt’s grandmother, his mom’s mom, had Osteoporosis and as she got older she started getting Kyphosis in her spine– which is when you start to get hunched over. The Kyphosis got progressively worse and worse with age. By the time that she was in her early to mid-80s, the Kyphosis was so severe that the bones had become too soft and could not prevent the collapse of her chest cavity, greatly reducing the amount of oxygen she was able to get.

Eventually, she couldn't breathe effectively and she passed away around the age of 86.

“I'm not sure if this is the immediate cause of death when she actually died, but it was certainly influenced by it.”

Matt’s grandmother had one son and five daughters including his mom.

“All five of them are very concerned, if not petrified to end up the same way that their mother did. But my mom, she's been doing strength training for a number of years actually, she's a good example of that.”

Slow-Motion Strength Training was originally created at the University of Florida as a solution to treat women with Osteoporosis because it was proven to help build bone density in addition to muscle and other incredible benefits. The Perfect Workout for women who want to fight Osteoporosis? We think so!

decades of research on slow motion strength training

What You Should Know About Slow-Motion Strength Training, According to Matt Hedman:

“Slow motion strength training allows a person to get incredible fitness results without having to spend your life in the gym.

I named our company The Perfect Workout over 20 years ago with the idea that people can get better results than just about anything else a person's going to do in the name of exercise.

It's safer on the joints than just about anything else for exercise and it's super time-efficient, 20 minutes, twice a week to get essentially optimal results.

Over the years, what I've found is that the thing which people usually get most interested in is the trial. People oftentimes are skeptical that you can get any results from 20 minutes. But even for people who think you should be spending your life in the gym, the vast majority of the results that can be gotten from exercise, can be done in just minutes a week, 20 minutes, twice a week.

Plus it has all these other great benefits for Osteoporosis, metabolic benefits, myokines, increase in basal metabolic rate which helps with fat loss, and there's probably a lot of stuff which we don't or we aren't even aware of yet….

You really can get great health with just less than an hour a week. I'm not saying the 20 minutes are easy. They're not. But if you do it right and challenge yourself, then you'll get incredible results and you won't have to spend the rest of your life in the gym.

What the methodology does is basically allows you to push yourself as hard as you're willing to push yourself, but it won't force you to push any further than you're willing to push yourself. So there's no danger of thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I'm not going to be able to do this. It sounds way too hard.’ It's challenging, especially if you want to get good results, but you won't be challenged any more beyond that because it's just the right amount for you.”

 

Stay tuned for more from our Founder, Matt Hedman…

 

Haven’t experienced Slow-Motion Strength Training for yourself?

More Exercise Isn’t Better. Better Exercise is Better.

More Exercise Isn't Better. Better Exercise is Better.

Are you eating less and exercising more but gaining weight?

Spending longer hours at the gym, but can’t get rid of that tummy?

Signing up for more workout classes, but don’t have time to do the things you really want?

In this article we address a common belief that “more is better” when it comes to exercise. You’ll learn how taking a smarter, “less is more” approach to exercise can produce better results and save you time.

Eating more and exercising more isnt better, slow motion strength training is better

How to Get Stronger in Under 20 Minutes

Most people spend an hour in the gym for a strength training workout. Did you know strength can be maximized with workout sessions lasting less than 20 minutes?

One study (1) experimented with individuals who strength trained for two months. All participants in three different groups performed the same full-body workout but with different workloads.

  • GROUP 1: performed one set per exercise. (7 total sets per workout)
  • GROUP 2: performed three sets per exercise (21 total sets) 
  • GROUP 3: performed five sets per exercise (35 total sets)

** All sets were performed to muscle success (aka. Temporary muscle fatigue)

The secret to a successful workout

All groups gained strength, but the strength tests which included a bench press and a barbell squat showed no statistical difference in strength gain for each group. 

This is significant when considering the amount of time spent exercising:

 

GROUP 3 averaged 68 minutes per workout
GROUP 2 averaged 40 minutes per workout
GROUP 1 trained for just 13 minutes per workout

 

Therefore, training intensely for 13 minutes can produce similar strength gains compared to training for 68 minutes. You get a five-fold return on your time investment. 

The 13-minute routine used in Group 1 is similar to a typical session at The Perfect Workout: 

 

  • one set per exercise
  • seven exercises total
  • each set performed to “muscle success”
  • each workout targeting all major muscle groups

 

This similarity is not a coincidence. Our method is designed to help you become strong, healthy and able-bodied without wasting your time. In fact, you get your time back.

Exercise Everyday? Not Necessary

A common misconception about exercise is that we need to exercise almost every day, if not every day of the week.

This approach to exercise can actually hinder results.

In another study (2), 72 women between the ages of 60-74 were tested before and after a 16-week exercise program. There were 3 groups:

*Aerobic workouts were cycling/treadmill for 20-40 min at 80% of max heart rate

**Strength training workouts- each set of repetitions was taken to the deep fatigue point of “muscle success”

1+1 Group:

Performed 1 low intensity aerobic workout per week

1 high intensity strength training workout per week

2 total workouts per week

2+2 Group: 

Performed 2 low intensity aerobic workouts per week

2 high intensity strength training workouts per week

4 total workouts per week

3+3 Group: 

Performed 3 low intensity aerobic workouts per week

3 high intensity strength training workouts per week

6 total workouts per week

Results measured included: total number of calories expended per day (TDEE), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), and fat loss.

 

1+1 Group:

  • increased their NEAT by 57 calories per day
  • increased their TDEE per day by an additional 30 calories
  • averaged 2.2 lbs of fat loss. 

2+2 Group: 

  • increased their NEAT by 200 calories per day
  • increased their TDEE per day by an additional 195 calories
  • 2+2 group lost the most fat, dropping 4.4 fat lbs

3+3 Group: 

  • decreased their average daily NEAT by 150 calories. 
  • decreased their TDEE per day by an average of 63 calories, despite the extra activity level of working out six days per week.
  • averaged 1.1 lbs of fat loss. 

 

The group that spent the most time exercising wound up burning fewer calories and losing less fat than both of the other two groups. 

This study is evidence that more exercise doesn't necessarily produce better results.

In fact, too much physical stress (including exercise stress) can cause the body to react in unfavorable ways. You want just the right amount of high-intensity exercise stress for optimal improvements, and no more.

If you want to get optimal results you need to value resting and recovering from your workouts

More is not better quote from Alex Stefan

Learn to Work HARDER, Not Longer.

A typical slow-motion strength training workout generally consists of 7-8 exercises per session. This may vary slightly depending on a number of factors: once or twice a week, injuries, limitations and individual goals.

 

In theory, you can hit all major muscle groups with just 4 exercises:

  • Leg Press: Glutes, Quadriceps, Calves(or Squat for Virtual)
  • Chest Press: Pectorals, Shoulders, Triceps (or Push-up for Virtual)
  • Lat Pulldown: Lats, Biceps, Abdominals (or Superman for Virtual)
  • Leg Curl: Hamstrings (same for Virtual)

 

Depending on the individual, we can also incorporate other machines to target specific muscle areas, including:

  • Leg Extension: Quadriceps (same for Virtual)
  • Preacher Curl: Biceps, Forearms (or Bicep Curl for Virtual)
  • Tricep Extension: Triceps (or Tricep Dips for Virtual)
  • Hip Abduction: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minor, TFL (or Fire Hydrant for Virtual)
  • Hip Adduction: Inner Thighs (or Pillow Squeeze for Virtual)
  • Compound Row: Trapezoids, Rhomboids, Biceps (often interchangeable for Lat Pulldown) (or Row for Virtual)
  • Abdominal Machine: Abdominals (or Crunches for Virtual)
muscles worked on exercises

If you look at the first list, you’ll notice the entire body can be targeted with just four exercises, making it simple and efficient to get a full-body workout.

More exercises can be added to further fatigue smaller muscles that may have not achieved muscle success on bigger-muscle machines. 

For example, the biceps are the secondary muscles used on the Lat Pulldown. The Preacher Curl can be added to further fatigue them.

 

This does not mean it is necessary to do all machines and exercises in every workout.

In fact, having the ability to easily complete 11 slow-motion strength training exercises is a good indication that the intensity level is not high enough. 

Think of your workouts as a short sprint, not a mile-long race. The reason there isn’t a mile dash in track & field is because nobody can sprint that far, or work that hard for that long. 

 

Since intense effort is what stimulates best results from the muscles (and the body), demanding slow-motion strength training workouts have to be brief.

If you feel like you can perform slow-motion strength training exercises for more than 20 minutes at a time, you can probably improve your results by increasing the intensity and learning how to work harder.

 

This applies to every single exercise too.

An appropriate weight will allow you to maintain a slow speed while eliminating any momentum. Therefore, slow lifting makes greater demands on the muscles, and provides a more effective stimulus for the muscles. 

An ideal exercise should take about 1-2 minutes to hit muscle success. Anything over 2 minutes indicates the weights may be too light for you, thus making the exercise less efficient.

Rest AFTER the Workout

Have you ever thought, ”Why doesn’t my trainer give me any breaks between exercises?!” 

 

One reason is minimal rest between exercises improves the cardiovascular impact of the workout. 

The only way to “get at” your cardiovascular system during exercise is to make the muscles work hard. We achieve that by hitting muscle success. Slow-motion repetitions make your muscles work much harder than most exercises which puts a greater demand and stimulus on your cardiovascular system.

your heart and eating less and exercising more
Image Source: Cybex

Little to no time to rest between exercises quickens the process of getting to muscle success, making the overall workout more efficient. 

While strength training in general provides several improvements to the cardiovascular system, many benefits are received or amplified only when training to muscle success. 

Another Area to Avoid Resting is Between Repetitions.

One study (3) observed what happened when two different groups strength trained. Resting was compared against not resting between repetitions:

 

  • GROUP 1: lifted continuously from start to finish in each set (we use this in our protocol)
  • GROUP 2: took a short break in the middle of the set. 

 

When muscle biopsies were taken from the quadriceps, the fibers from GROUP 1 had grown 13%, whereas GROUP 2 only grew 4%. 

Keeping your muscles continuously loaded without any rest (as we employ with our slow-motion repetitions) yields the best results.

Save the rest & recovery for after your workouts. You’re going to need it!

Need Proof 20 Minutes is Enough?

We’ve helped over 40,000 clients improve their bodies and health over the last couple of decades with our 20-minute, twice a week protocol.

Here are just some of their success stories:

Over a 20-day period in May 2020, we measured just how long it takes for an average client of The Perfect Workout to complete a workout and the amount of time spent on each exercise. This is what we found out:

These are the people seeing significant results… And they are doing it with two workouts a week, for 20-minutes.

Now That You Know...

At the end of the day, we want to spend time doing the things we love, and there’s no reason for exercise to get in the way.

Now that you know:

  • You can get the same strength gains, if not more, in 13 minutes than you can in 68 minutes
  • More workouts per week can actually hinder your results
  • Doing more exercises than needed in a session is an indication the workout may not be intense enough and you can be working harder
  • You can get a full body-workout in with just 4 exercises
  • More rest in a workout can reduce muscle growth and cardiovascular impact

If you could save hours each week doing more of what you love, would you?

What you get working out with this method is not only guaranteed results, but also your time back!

We know you value your health and exercise should be at the top of your priority list, but it doesn’t need to fill up your calendar.

Imagine what you could gain from saving time in your week getting a more efficient workout.

Whether you’re looking to get stronger, carve out more time to play golf, or simply keep up with the grandkids, all you need is 20 minutes, twice a week.

  1. Schoenfeld, B.J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2018). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
  2. Hunter, G. R., Bickel, C. S., Fisher, G., Neumeier, W., & McCarthy, J. (2013). Combined Aerobic/Strength Training and Energy Expenditure in Older Women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. (Published ahead of print).
  3. Fisher, J., Steele, S., & Smith, D. (2013). Evidence-­‐based resistance training recommendations for muscular hypertrophy. Medicina Sportiva, 17(4): 217-­‐235.

The Secret to A Successful Workout

The Secret To a Successful workout

Woman experiencing muscle failure

The secret to a successful workout is…

NOT the equipment.
NOT the cold water in between exercises.
NOT even the incredible Trainers. 😲

Though all of those things can vastly improve the quality of your workout, the true secret to getting everything you want out of a training session is this-

Muscle Success.

In this article we discuss the necessity of achieving temporary muscle failure in your workouts and why it's the ultimate goal of every exercise you ever do.

“Muscle Success” should be your goal every time you workout.

By muscle success you might think I mean better tone, firmer muscles, greater strength, or more lean muscle tissue that burns extra calories. Each of those certainly represents a type of success, but I'm referring to something else by the term “muscle success.”

So what do I mean by “muscle success”?

You're pushing or pulling as hard as you can, and the weight refuses to budge even a fraction of an inch because your muscles have become so fatigued. You're attempting to make the weight move, but it's momentarily impossible for you to do so.

If you continue maximally pushing or pulling for several more seconds to make sure you're really at this point of muscle success, you'll have achieved deep momentary fatigue in the targeted muscles. 

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Why is Muscle Success Important?

It’s when the greatest benefits for your body are stimulated. This deep momentary fatigue in the muscle sends a strong signal to your body that it needs to get stronger, improve muscle tone, and increase your metabolism.

Within certain limits, the deeper you momentarily fatigue your muscles, the greater the changes you stimulate in your body.

But this isn’t exactly easy to achieve on your own. It's certainly a lot easier to quit each set of repetitions before you reach muscle success. Which is why working with a Personal Trainer is so beneficial.

Fatiguing down to this success point during a set of repetitions is not fun while you're actually doing it. It's uncomfortable. Your muscles often vibrate and burn. But it's the best thing you can do to generate results from your training.

The fun part is that each full body workout is only 20 minutes and results that are stimulated from achieving muscle success on each exercise are enormous: 

  1. Greater strength 
  2. More endurance 
  3. Additional calorie-burning lean muscle tissue 
  4. Reversing age related muscle loss (sarcopenia) 
  5. Increased metabolism for how many calories 
  6. Improved fat loss 
  7. Stronger bones 
  8. Reversing aging of muscle cells (express younger DNA in the nuclei) 
  9. Improved cardiovascular fitness 
  10. Improved cholesterol levels 
  11. Lower blood pressure 
  12. Improved low back pain
  13. Better blood sugar control you burn even while you're resting 
  14. Improved immune system 
  15. A number of other benefits 
reasons why muscle success, Man experiencing muscle failure

Even more benefits

I’d like to discuss two benefits of muscle success which aren’t talked about as often: cardiovascular health and an objective way to track your progress. 

The Journal of Exercise Physiology examined the same topic which looked at 157 studies, focused on the cardiovascular benefits provided by strength training to muscle success. 

While strength training in general provides several improvements to the cardiovascular system, the authors noted that many benefits are received or amplified only when training to muscle success. 

For example, after three months of training, men and women of various ages had enduring improvements in overall blood flow due to muscle success. Training to complete exhaustion increased artery size in another study. This is positive as larger arteries are less likely to experience a heart attack-causing blockage in the same way that adding lanes to a highway reduces the chances of having a traffic jam. 

Pushing to muscle success also increases the ability of arteries to expand when blood flow increases, which reduces the stress experienced by artery walls. 

Training to muscle success benefits your health in ways that may not occur if you train with lower intensity and don’t reach that point. 

Muscle Failure infographic

performance tracking

Also, you gain the benefit of an objective assessment of your performance. 

If you reach muscle success when lifting 200 pounds in 60 seconds on the leg press, we have measures of your current ability in regards to your leg and hip strength. 

If you arbitrarily stopped at 60 seconds (sick of feeling “the burn,” bored, etc.), the time you lifted for doesn’t provide us with any objective information. 

Who knows how much longer you could have performed the set for? 

If you train for 70 seconds the following session, we cannot say it’s an improvement – you may have been capable of that performance during your previous visit.

As you see, in addition to improvements in strength and appearance, muscle success stimulates greater changes in your cardiovascular system and gives you a way to objectively measure your progress. Therefore, the next time you encounter the discomfort of the last few reps, keep pushing. I promise: the extra effort is worth it. 

Muscle failure workout data
muscle failure graph for chest press

the magic happens at fatigue

I've experienced firsthand the difference that achieving muscle success can make. Prior to stumbling upon slow-motion strength training in 1992, I used to exercise with traditional methods of weight training for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week – 12 total hours of exercise per week. 

I would rarely (if ever) fatigue to the point of muscle success on any of my exercises -lengthy workouts require pacing yourself with a lower level of effort, which reduces how intensely you're able to train. 

When I tried slow-motion strength training I learned to fatigue all the way to muscle success on every set of each workout, and my results improved dramatically as a result. 

Muscle Failure-Matt Hedman Founder

My superior results were because I'd learned to make my muscles work harder. The higher intensity-pushing harder at the end of each exercise stimulated much better improvements in my body. And because my effort and intensity were significantly higher than before, by necessity my workouts had to be shorter. 

I advocate moving very slowly during every weight training repetition (approximately 10 seconds to lift the weight on each rep). But for results, fatiguing to the point of muscle success is actually more important than how slowly you move. 

Moving slowly during strength training is beneficial for great results too. It's just that reaching muscle success plays an even bigger role for results. Ideally you want to both achieve muscle success and move very slowly on every exercise. 

On each of your exercises as you near muscle success and your repetitions start to get challenging, try to cultivate a mindset of looking forward to the burning and shaking sensations you're experiencing. It’s where the magic happens!

Reference 

Steele, J., Fisher, J., McGuff, D., Bruce-Low, S., & Smith, D. (2012). Resistance training to momentary muscular failure improves cardiovascular fitness in humans: a review of acute physiological responses and chronic physiological adaptations. J Exerc Physiol15, 53-80.

7 EXERCISE MYTHS: How Slow-Motion Strength Training is the Solution to them All

7 Exercise Myths: How Slow-Motion Strength Training Is The Solution To Them All

Exercise Myths Female exercising

You could be sabotaging your workouts with 7 exercise myths.

Today we will identify those myths and prove that Slow-Motion Strength Training is the best possible form of exercise you can do to get the results you want.

One of the most common things we hear after someone tries our method for the first time is,
“I’ve been exercising the wrong way my entire life.”

And chances are, you might be too!

In this article, we are going to dive deep into the exercise methodology that has helped us provide the perfect workout to over 40,000 people in the last 20 years and all the reasons why you won’t want to exercise any other way.

Exercise Myths Chart

We know there are a million workout options out there to choose from and although we’d love to show you how our method beats them all, for the sake of this article we will be comparing Slow Motion-Strength Training to two of the most common ways in which people exercise: The Traditional Method and Aerobic-only method.

LET’S DEFINE EACH METHOD:

Slow Motion Strength Training (SMST):

Each exercise is performed by lifting weights or added resistance for approximately 10 seconds and lowering the weight for another 10 seconds with correct form and proper resistance. The ultimate goal is to achieve momentary muscular failure (aka. muscle success) within 1 to 2 minutes. Then on to the next exercise!

Slowing the lifting speed reduces momentum on each repetition and activates the muscles instantly and more effectively. As a result, more muscle fibers are used and ultimately strengthened. One session consists of anywhere between 5-9 exercises and is generally performed 1-2 times a week.

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Aerobic Only Method

According to Health.com, Aerobic exercise is defined as moving “your large muscle groups (think legs, glutes, and core) at the same time, usually in a rhythmic way, and for an extended period of time.”

This includes activities like running, walking, biking, and swimming, and they range from low to high intensity and can be performed anywhere from 30-90 minutes, 2-7 days a week typically.

Exercise Myth Woman Riding Bike

The Traditional Method:

We call this “traditional” because we believe it's the most widely practiced approach to exercise. This method is a combination of both strength training and aerobic exercises.

A common traditional exercise program consists of lower body strength training, upper body strength training, abdominal exercises and aerobic activity such as running or cycling. Most of the time, the training days are broken up into what is commonly referred to as ‘splits” where one day is focused on one area of the body, and the other day is focused on another, and so on.

Depending on the person, they may spend anywhere from 3-6 days a week in the gym for 1-2 hours. So for this example we will use a 4 day a week, 1 hour a day program.

Exercise myth woman traditional training battle ropes

Why do we exercise in the first place?

It’s important to outline why we exercise, identify the benefits of exercise and to make the distinction between exercise and recreation.

Exercise gives us physical benefits whereas recreation fulfills our psychological and emotional needs. According to High Intensity Exercise philosophy: exercise is performing a demanding and meaningful activity, anatomically and safely, of a sufficient intensity to stimulate the body to make anatomic and metabolic adaptive growth changes within a minimum period of time.

Anything else is considered recreation.

Exercise Vs Recreation compared

It is possible to experience all three types of benefits from exercise, but the reason why we make this clear distinction that exercise is high-intensity strength training, and anything else is recreation. So, we want to prioritize exercise first.

Why?

The benefits of exercise largely outweigh the benefits of recreation, and enhance your recreation. The benefits of slow-motion strength training will have an overall effect on your life: such as helping you become a better runner, giving you more energy to play with the grandkids, and improving your golf game by increasing your strength to hit the ball further. 

So by prioritizing exercise over recreation, you get a trickle-down effect that makes your recreational activities easier and more enjoyable.

So many of us end up confusing actual benefits with assumed benefits when it comes to exercise. I could probably wager that 90% of you reading this article have done activities like running, burpees, stair climbers and other things you absolutely hated doing, because you thought it was the thing you needed to do to reach your goal or to achieve a specific benefit.

So in order to prove to you that SMST is the best exercise method out there, we’d like to debunk some myths about exercise while simultaneously illustrating how SMST is the solution for you.

MYTH 1: I need to do “cardio” to get any cardiovascular benefits.

Many people will exercise to improve their Cardiovascular system. When you exercise the muscles in your body, particularly the larger muscles, it increases blood flow. This increase in heart rate and blood flow stimulates the capillaries in the bloodstream to expand. This expansion allows for more oxygen to enter the blood making your heart more effective in removing waste and toxins from the system.

Why is this a benefit?

By supplying the heart with exercise, you reap the Cardiovascular benefits such as:

Exercise Myths Cardiovascular benefits of strength training

(Read more about Cardio Benefits from Strength Training Here)


Who wouldn’t want that?

The common approach to getting these benefits is doing aerobic activity– also known as “cardio.”

Think about your own experiences. Think about how running a mile, hiking a steep hill, or even just tackling the flight of stairs at the end of the day makes your heart feel like it’s going to beat out of your chest.

Can you achieve them by doing the Traditional Method or Aerobics only? Yes.

However, with SMST you do it faster, more efficiently and it’s definitely safer on your body.

Aerobics, particularly high impact aerobics like running or plyometrics can be hard on the joints

Your genetics play a significant part in determining whether or not you will run into joint issues such as arthritis or osteoarthritis, and activities like aerobics can worsen the issue. The downside to that is most people have to find out the hard way by either getting injured or suffering from chronic knee or other joint pain from years of aerobics, and they had no idea it was hurting them.

One of the things that makes SMST so exceptional is that there is virtually no stress or strain put on the joints when performed correctly. In fact, the muscles are primarily under the load of the weight the entire exercise, making it both safe and effective. So, it is safe for everyone– joint issues or not– and you don’t have to find out the hard way!

Exercise Myths Full Range of Motion

Let’s Talk a Little Bit More About Strength Training and the Cardiovascular System.

Remember how in the beginning of this article we specified that the goal of SMST is to achieve muscle failure?

Lifting weights to momentary muscle failure has been proven to be a successful factor in improving the Cardiovascular system.

Studies have found that “Resistance training performed to failure can induce acute and chronic physiological effects which appear to be similar to aerobic endurance training, which in turn produces similar enhancements in CV fitness. “ (from: Resistance Training to MMF)

While strength training in general provides several improvements to the cardiovascular system, many benefits are received or amplified only when training to muscle success.

For example, after three months of training, men and women of various ages had enduring improvements in overall blood flow due to muscle success training. Training to complete exhaustion increased artery size in another study.

This is a good thing because larger arteries are less likely to experience a heart attack-causing blockage in the same way that adding lanes to a highway reduces the chances of having a traffic jam. Finally, pushing to muscle success also increases the ability of arteries to expand when blood flow increases, which reduces the stress experienced by artery walls.

SMST has a positive effect on your cardiovascular system, without the danger of affecting your joints, as it does with aerobic exercise.

MYTH 2: I need to do “cardio” to lose weight.

Just doing cardio? Oh, you’ll lose weight alright. By just doing aerobic activities like walking, running, elliptical, etc. you lose overall body weight– not just fat.

Along with fat, you lose muscle, bone, and tissue that support your ability to walk, run, balance and perform daily functions with ease and strength.

A 2007 study put overweight and obese women through 25 weeks of a restricted diet that was complimented with either “aerobic” activity, or strength training, or no exercise at all. Both the strength training and “aerobic” groups lost 26 lbs. of fat, slightly more than the women who only dieted.

Exercise myths The Formula for Weight Loss

However, here’s the difference: the strength training group not only maintained their lean mass (muscle, bone, water, and other organs), but actually gained a little. The “aerobic” and diet-only groups lost two and three pounds of lean mass. (Read more about this study- Losing Fat and Fat ONLY)

There is really no evidence that aerobic exercise or cardio is required for fat loss. In addition, simply increasing your activity level to burn extra calories is not efficient for fat loss. The single most effective method for fat loss is proper nutrition.

Ever heard the saying, “You can't out-exercise a bad diet.” There’s some truth to that!

Fat loss programs work best when you combine proper nutrition, slow motion strength training, and drinking water. Aerobics isn’t not needed to lose fat.

See image below for a study comparing fat loss results between methods:

Exercise myths Darden diet comparison

MYTH 3: More Repetitions, More Exercises, the Better.

The saying, more is NOT better absolutely applies here.

Weights are generally lifted for sets of multiple repetitions. Each time you lift and lower a weight, it is one repetition. Multiple repetitions makes up a set, and once you have stopped or taken a break from lifting the set is over.

The most common way to lift is used in the Traditional Method where you lift for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, whether you hit muscle failure or not. Lifting speeds vary but on average let’s assume the traditional speed is 2 seconds lifting, 1 second pausing, and  4 seconds lowering.

The Slow-Motion Method we use at The Perfect Workout uses lifting for 1 set until muscle failure. If the exercise is performed for 1-2 minutes, which is the recommended length of time to achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness, then that generally ends up being 3-6 repetitions. The lifting speed used is 10 seconds lifting, 0-3 seconds pausing, and 10 seconds lowering.

Exercise Myths Slow motion vs traditional

Multiple studies have shown that doing extra work– multiple sets vs. one set– does not produce greater results. In fact, studies have shown that SMST can produce about a 50% greater increase in strength for both men and women than regular speed training.

Another important and sometimes overlooked factor is the amount of time spent recovering. SMST is only performed 1-2 times a week in comparison to the Traditional Method of 4 times a week.

There’s a reason for that!

The body needs enough time to rest, recover, and grow stronger. When doing high intensity exercise like SMST, we found that most people get best results from working out every 72-96 hours.

Exercise myths recovery resources

We want just the right amount of exercise stress in a given period of time, and no more. Working out again before the body has made changes may hamper results.

So, more is not better. 

MYTH 4: Lifting Heavy Weights is Not Safe.

Picture a bodybuilder, lifting a barbell with massive weighted plates above his head while he grunts, holds his breath and veins start popping out of his reddening forehead.

Of course that looks unsafe… and unless you’re a trained Olympic Lifter, it is.

First let’s see if we can reframe the mindset here and replace the idea of “lifting heavy weights” with lifting with “enough resistance.”

What’s heavy to me may be light for you, or vice versa.

Finding enough resistance is a crucial part of achieving muscle failure in a timeframe that is going to be effective…. And that is unique to the individual.

In one study, participants performed a routine with light weights and high reps or a routine with heavier weights that limited them to fewer reps. Both routines were similar in that all sets were performed to the fatigue point of “Muscle Success.” The training lasted six weeks.

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(Read More about Recovery & High Intensity Exercise)


The light-weight group performed about three-times as many reps…and gained less strength and muscle! In fact, the heavier-weight group gained about three-times the amount of strength.

Electromyography tests showed the heavier-weight, low-rep routine stimulated progressively more muscle fiber usage throughout the study. This was not the case for the low-weight group.

This result is important for a few reasons. It means heavier weight is needed to perpetually challenge muscles. It also explains why the heavier weight group gained more strength and muscle (more fibers trained means more fibers were improved). (Read More about this study- Enough Resistance is Critical)

As long as you maintain good, proper form, the exercise becomes safer as the muscles become more deeply fatigued. In fact, the last reps are the most productive reps performed, and they are also the safest since they are physically unable to produce enough force to strain (assuming form is not broken).

The rep in which muscle success is achieved is potentially the most productive rep. Don’t cheat yourself out of the last “impossible” rep; embrace it. 

MYTH 5: If I lift weights, I’ll get big & bulky

We hear this mostly from the ladies, and you’ll be happy to know that it's actually really hard to get big and bulky, especially if you are a female.

Strength Training in general creates lean muscle mass, and the keyword there is lean (not mass). Muscle takes up less space in the body than fat does.

Muscle

  • More Dense
  • Takes up Less Space
  • Burns More Calories
  • Improves Bone Mass
  • Reduces Injury Risk
  • Increase Definition

Fat

  • Takes Up More Space
  • Can Lead To Obesity
  • Increased Risk Of: Disease,
    Diabetes, High Blood Pressure,
    Kidney Disease, Stroke,
    And Other Diseases

MYTH 6: I need to do fast repetitions

It makes the most sense to compare SMST with the Traditional Method here, considering Aerobic-Only does not include lifting weights whatsoever.

SMST uses the 10-10 approach to lifting speeds, meaning you lift the weight for 10 seconds and lower it for another 10 seconds.

In addition, there is no rest between each repetition. The muscles stay fully loaded (working at all times) until the point of muscle failure is achieved.

Why do we go so slow?

By slowing down the lifting speed we reduce the chance of injury during the exercise. Most injuries come from excessive force and momentum.

Imagine running as fast as you can at a wall– there’s a lot of acceleration behind you. That collision will surely hurt and result in injury.

Now imagine placing your hands on the wall and pushing against it with 25% strength, then 50% strength, then 100% strength. There’s practically no acceleration and the force against the wall can be controlled and abandoned at any time.

There is no collision, and certainly no injury.

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MYTH 7: High Intensity isn’t Safe. Low Intensity is safer.

Workouts must be brief if they are going to be effective. You can either work out hard or you can work out for a long period of time, but you cannot do both. We want just the right amount of exercise stress in a workout and no more.

Evidence has shown that one slow motion set per exercise yields the best results when you work hard for a short period of time and achieve muscle failure.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

blue heart icon

Cardiovascular benefits can be achieved through all 3 methods we outlined today. SMST is the best solution because these benefits can be achieved faster, more efficiently and is safer on joints. The Traditional Method uses force and momentum, which are injury-causing movements. Aerobics can be hard on the joints, particularly for those prone to cartilage degeneration and arthritis.

Blue icon of a waist

You do not need to do aerobics to lose weight. You can achieve fat loss with any of the three methods compared in this article, but a proper diet will yield the best results and SMST will aid in efficiently helping you gain fat-burning muscle.

Exercise Myths more is better

More is not better when it comes to exercise. This applies to the amount of repetitions you do as well as the number of workouts per week. The body best responds to short, brief and intense strength training exercises and needs ample time to rest, recover and grow in between sessions. Anything beyond that can hamper results, which is why doing SMST 2 times a week is all you need.

Blue muscle arm icon

Lifting heavy weights or strength training with enough resistance is safe when done correctly. In fact, it gets safer with every repetition when using our slow lifting speeds. Exercising with enough resistance will use more (and deeper) muscle fibers that stimulate growth in the body. 

Exercise Myths faster is better

Exercising with slow speeds (when lifting weights) also prevents common injuries that result from using excessive force or momentum. Making the exercise safer and more challenging which contributes to it being an extremely effective method.

Exercise Myths lifting weights makes you bulk

Lifting weights does not make you big and bulky. It adds lean muscle mass to your body which helps to burn fat. Aerobic only exercises don't build muscle, yet often accelerate the loss of muscle, bone and tissue. So don’t waste away with aerobic only, and make time for strength training!

We exercise for a number of reasons, goals and benefits.

With that being said–
If you love to run, please by all means RUN!
If you love to swim, swim your hearts out!
If you love the high you get from a spin class or a bike ride in the mountains, do what makes your soul happy!

We’re not interested in getting on a soapbox and saying slow-motion strength training is the only thing you should ever do to move your body.

Not one bit.

What we want you to take away from this article is that slow-motion strength training is truly the best possible thing you could be doing for your health and fitness and will help to enhance all other areas of your life including the activities you love to do and how you feel about yourself.

Family at beach

Remember, Exercise by our definition can get you these benefits:

  • Decreased Body Fat*
  • Increased Basal Metabolic Rate*
  • Increased Strength*
  • Increased Bone Density*
  • Increased Cardiovascular Efficiency*
  • Increased Glucose Tolerance*
  • Increased HDL Cholesterol*
  • Decreased Blood Pressure*
  • Increased Resistance to Injury
  • Improved Flexibility
  • Improved Immune System

**Biomarkers of Aging
(From Dr. Alexander's High Intensity Exercise)

Exercise Myths Chart

Can you achieve all of these benefits with Aerobics only?

No. The Aerobic-Only won’t increase your strength, bone density, resistance to injury or necessarily help you lose fat.

Can you achieve all of these benefits with the Traditional Method?

Possibly. The Strength training aspect alone will provide you with more life changing benefits than anything, but again you run the risk of sacrificing three very important pillars to exercise: safety, efficiency and effectiveness. The areas to be concerned about with this method is not gaining strength (if strength training is not efficient) and getting injured (if workouts are not performed safely).

Can you achieve all these benefits with Slow-Motion Strength Training?

Yes. But you knew that by now right?

And the best part is you can do it in 20 minutes, twice a week.

Our trainers are waiting to help you get started.

Information used in this article derived from the following sources:

Muscle Success-Why to do it

Losing Fat and Fat ONLY

Enough Resistance is Critical

When Strength Training Becomes Cardio

Is One Set Enough?

Resistance Training to MMF

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D. (and others) Effects of Regular and Slow Speed Resistance Training on Muscle Strength, Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 2001, Vol 41, Iss 2. Pp 154-158

The Nautilus Book, Ellington Darden, Ph.D., Copyright 1990 Contemporary Books, Chicago, IL, P. 85

Total Conditioning: A Case Study. Athletic Journal. Vol. 56: 40-55, 1975

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11447355

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/epub/10.1161/01.CIR.0000048890.59383.8D

The Science Behind Slow-Motion Strength Training and Why it’s Perfect For You

The Science Behind Slow-Motion Strength Training and Why It's Perfect For You

science behind strength training with trainers

“For years I spent hours in the gym, 5 days a week, not getting the results I wanted. It felt like a waste of time.”

 

But what if there’s a way to workout more efficiently?

 

“I’ve been a runner, tried all the bootcamps, and even spent my precious Sunday mornings slowly dying alongside all the millennials in spin class. I’m no stronger, no thinner, and now my knees constantly ache. I don’t want to keep exercising if I just end up getting hurt.”

 

But what if those weren’t the right exercise methods?

 

“I invested time and money to work with a Personal Trainer and never saw any results. I felt like they didn’t understand my needs. Personal Training is NOT for me. “

 

Maybe your workouts just weren’t customized to your goals and abilities?

 

Sound familiar?

 

Well we’re excited to share with you that there IS a more effective approach to exercise!

The Solution is Slow-Motion Strength Training.

It's the science-backed method The Perfect Workout has used for over 20 years to help more than 30,000 people change their bodies and redefine the way they exercise.

In this article, we dive deep into the methodology used, why it's the safest, most effective and efficient way to exercise, and all the reasons you’d be crazy not to do it.

For years we’ve been handing our clients a little book called High Intensity Exercise by Dr. Philip Alexander and it might be one of the best tools that explains why we do what we do.

Dr. Alexander didn’t discover High Intensity Exercise but after doing slow-motion strength training for some time he condensed the concepts of the methodology for others to easily understand and implement in their own lives.

We had the chance to sit down with CEO of ARX Mark Alexander, Dr. Alexander’s son to discuss High Intensity Exercise. 

Mark Alexander Quote about Slow Motion High Intensity Strength Training

For the full discussion on High-Intensity Exercise, what it is and why everyone (and we mean everyone) should do it, watch the video below:

Play Video

We at The Perfect Workout, Mark, and his father Dr. Alexander are all passionate about the method we use and teach to others, and we want to give you the tools you need to really understand exercise and use it to your advantage.

Whether you’ve been a long-time client of ours, or are brand new to The Perfect Workout, this article will provide you with the main concepts of High-Intensity Exercise outlined in our interview with Mark Alexander and the book High-Intensity Exercise by Dr. Philip Alexander.

Dr Philip Alexander, Flexing his muscles from high intensity exercise
Dr. Philip Alexander

What is High Intensity Exercise?

The first thing to know about exercise is that it is not any type of movement or activity that increases your heart rate or makes you sweat. Exercise is a stimulus that causes a response from the body, and a certain amount of time and recovery is needed for the body to benefit from the stimulus.

High-intensity exercise in particular, is brief, focused, and intentional.

Over the years, we’ve discovered that short, brief and intense exercise actually has more power and more positive effects on the body than any kind of prolonged exercise does.

This often brings up the questions– when do you actually get stronger? Where do you grow muscle?

The assumed answer– during the workout.

When actually, it happens afterward. The time spent working out was just the time that you needed to trigger that stimulus. Your body also needs to eat, sleep and rest in order to recover. You actually get stronger during that recovery period.

So in short, high-intensity exercise (HIE) is short, brief & intense, requires ample recovery and has more positive effects on the body than prolonged or low-intensity exercises.

What is exercise and slow motion strength training

What is Exercise, and what isn’t:

“Brief, intense, effective stimulus done through resistance training is essentially one way to define exercise and then everything else that you do for fun or for socialization or for sport or for competition, you would call that recreation,” Mark explained.

Exercise Vs Recreation compared

Mark made an interesting analogy between exercise and brushing your teeth. “It's just something you do, maybe it's not super fun. But if you don't do it, eventually, things will rot and decay. It's the same thing with your body, if you're not paying attention to it and doing high-intensity exercise, your muscles will decay, your bones will decay, things start to happen and you start to fall apart quite literally, it's not fun.”

What we’d like to reiterate is that exercise is truly for the purpose of improving…

But that doesn’t mean stop doing the things that you love to do! Keep playing tennis if you love the sport. Head to the golf course if it's your Saturday ritual. The exercises that we're doing together are going to actually enhance the things that you love to do outside of the workouts. It's going to make you stronger, better, more athletic and help you move easier.

What is absolutely necessary for exercise to be effective?

How to make an already effective exercise even more effective:

  • Always have to have these three things: safety, effectiveness, efficiency. 
  • Never want to sacrifice either of those.

 

What you want to do is eliminate momentum, be slow and methodical. The movement of each exercise should be extremely slow- 10 seconds to move the resistance, and 10 seconds to resist it.

You want to avoid locking out your joints- keep them bent so the muscles stay loaded (working at all times). And you’re doing it in a manner to which your muscles will fatigue. That's the stimulus we talked about just a minute ago. Fatiguing the muscles is the ultimate goal of each exercise and really what you're after.

 

Some good rules of thumb:

  • Go slow
  • Avoid momentum
  • Avoid locking out joints
  • Avoid resting in between repetitions
  • Hit muscle fatigue.


Another factor you don't want to overlook is the length of time you exercise. You don’t want to go for too long or too short.

Performing any exercise for too long is likely more cardiometabolic and a whole lot less strength and power than you wanted from the set.

You also don't want to go too short because if you perform the exercise for too little time, it's possible you just never really activate some of those cardiometabolic effects.

The ideal length of time needed for each exercise is 60 seconds to 120 seconds (1-2 minutes), or somewhere in that range.

Play Video

The Purpose of Every Exercise: Muscle Success.

Muscle success is our term for the point in each exercise when you can no longer move the resistance. Your muscles are momentarily exhausted and no longer strong enough to push even a fraction of an inch further. This is also commonly known as muscle failure.

Reaching muscle success provides a number of benefits, including stimulating stronger muscles, greater muscle tone, improvements in metabolism, increased cardiovascular health and an objective way to track your progress. 

In short, an exercise needs to be intense enough to achieve muscle success. And muscle success is the ultimate goal of each exercise and the solution to ensuring you’ve gotten the most out of your workout.

An Example of an EFFECTIVE Exercise.

The most effective exercises are going to be compound exercises where you work larger muscle groups. You’re going to get the most bang for your effort. You can absolutely do more isolated movement-type exercises like bicep curls, and tricep extensions (they just get a more finite amount of muscle and fibers involved).

The Leg Press is a great example of an effective exercise (when done safely & effectively of course).

Leg Press Slow Motion Strength Training

What you’re doing on the Leg Press is activating the glutes, the quadriceps and the calves– incorporating the large muscle groups in the lower body to work methodically.

To accomplish an ideal and effective full-body workout, you’d want to go through a series of compound exercises like the leg press, chest press, compound row, lat pulldown or pullover, or overhead press. By doing those antagonist-type movements- a muscle whose action counteracts that of another specified muscle- you’re not neglecting any body parts.

As mentioned before, you can absolutely include isolated exercises that target specific smaller muscles like the biceps and triceps to completely target and fatigue all desired muscles.

Slow Motion Strength Training at home or on machines

This full-body high-intensity workout generally includes anywhere from four to eight exercises, taking approximately one to two minutes each.

20 minutes is usually about all that you really need.

An Example of INEFFECTIVE Exercise:

Use these three principles to guide or ideals of what is HIE and what is not: 

  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Efficient


So anything that's sacrificed in any one of those, would generally fall in line with what we would classify as 
ineffective.

But let’s talk about one of the most common activities people do and challenges this concept of exercise- running.

For the record, there is nothing inherently wrong with running. But it’s not effective exercise. However, many people will run because they believe it is the thing they should be doing to achieve their health and fitness goals.

Mark says, if the reason for running is for stress relief, “Well, why don't you just go on a walk with your dog? That's probably a better stress relief, and it won't be isn't harmful on your joints!”

The most common reason for running-  “Well, I want to run because I want to lose weight.”

Again, that's an ineffective way to lose weight, and Mark explained it beautifully, “All running does is expense calories, expense your energy stores and then it makes you hungry. So, then you want to go and you want to eat. And so, you've just eradicated your run by going to Krispy Kreme and getting a couple donuts, or whatever your body was craving that you really needed at that time. And it's because your energy stores are being used in inefficient manner when you're running. And again, if you're running for sport, and you're running for social and, again, I don't want to say never run but just understand what the benefits are and why you're doing it.”

From an exercise perspective, that approach is not effective for what people think they are getting from it.

Ultimately, an exercise, like low-intensity activities do not stimulate the body to grow, therefore making them not effective.

Avoiding TOO Much High Intensity Exercise- Overtraining.

Can you overtrain?

The short answer is yes.

The long and more detailed answer is it depends on recovery. “What I've found in the high-intensity exercise world is that it's often less from the gym and more from outside stressors.”

Overtraining is when progress and getting results from your workouts stops, slows down, or even regresses because the body is not able to recover from exercise.

Factors that may contribute to the body’s inability to recover include: not sleeping well, eating a poor diet, going through a divorce, a big move, the loss of a loved one, sheltering at home amidst the coronavirus pandemic…

Any of those outside stressors will definitely impact the work that you are doing in your training sessions.

We tend to look at components of your lifestyle like recovery, sleep, diet and stress levels as being a deterrent of progress, more than overtraining.

According to Mark, about 80% of the time outside stressors are what contributes to overtraining. In addition, High-Intensity Exercise by Dr. Philip Alexander outlines a few other resources that affect the body’s ability to recover:

Recovery Ability Graph for Slow Motion Strength Training

“Yes, you can overtrain but I feel like most people in the way that they're thinking about it, it's being overly cautious on how much resistance training they're doing versus can you pay attention more to what life is doing outside of the weight room and can you mitigate stress, can you do things better in terms of what you're eating and managing relationships. Those things to me open up more doors to making overtraining not a thing.” – Mark

Avoiding TOO Little High-Intensity Exercise- Not training Enough.

Considering the mentality many of us have to overcome of “more is better” when it comes to exercise, I wouldn’t be too concerned with this.

However, it is possible to not train enough, or give enough effort.

Workouts must be brief if they are going to be effective. You can either work out hard or you can work out for a long period of time, but you cannot do both. We want just the right amount of exercise stress in a workout and no more. But that means making sure you give enough effort until the point of muscle success.

It's not easy to do, but we see many people giving up or quitting just before hitting muscle success. That’s like leaving all of your money on the table just before hitting the jackpot. You wouldn’t want to do that would you?

If exercise is not intense enough, and not performed to the point of muscle success, then it can be considered too little and possibly not high-intensity at all.

We have found that most people get best results from working out twice a week, or once every 72-96 hours. By taking more time than necessary to recover, you potentially miss out on time spent incorporating another growth-producing training session!

Not All Bodies Are Created Equal. What You Should Pay Attention to Maximize Your Recovery Process so You Get the Most Out of Your Training Sessions:

Self-awareness is key here. Look back on those outside stressors that we mentioned- Are your relationships suffering? Are you stress eating? Are you eating a lot of sugar? Are you battling a medical issue? What are those triggers that you see are happening or not?

Those are the things to start paying attention to to maximize your recovery period in between training sessions.

Sleep is another important factor (Read more about Sleep Deprivation and Exercise)

There’s power in knowing yourself, paying attention to your lifestyle and also not getting obsessed with diet and exercise.

The recovery period (time in between training sessions) allows you to take a holistic approach to your health, and exercise is just one piece of the pie. Everything else plays a really big part in it too. And doing it twice a week kind of prevents you from being obsessed about how much exercise you're doing.

It's definitely a paradigm shift that many of us have had to go through to accept the idea that more is not better. 

“It's Not How Much Exercise Your Body Can Withstand, It's How Little It Actually Requires.” 

Mark called this concept, “minimum effective dose,” and used drug companies as an example to explain it. “It's not like if there's an effective dose of 50 milligrams, it's not that taking 200 milligrams is necessarily better. It's the same with exercise. It needs to be the right dose, and there can be too much.”

Based on our earlier definition of exercise, too much activity, too much recreation, just too much of any movement can impact your body and its performance during your workouts.

You want to strive to give your body that minimum effective dose. “The more is better mentality is one we've been taught in terms of exercise. More is not better. Quality over quantity is really what I always try to push.”

Matt Hedman Founder and CEO of the Perfect Workout

It's Not the Calories Burned DURING Exercise, It's the Calories Burned AS A RESULT OF Exercise. 

Let's say you burn 600 calories while running because you think that’s what you need to do to lose weight. It’s ineffective because it's still relatively little compared to what you're in taking every day and you’re only burning calories in the moment, not after.

Instead of looking at calories lost, look at the amount of strength  and muscle mass gained. High-intensity exercise will help you gain muscle mass, and so that muscle mass is metabolic currency (as Mark calls it).

By simply adding another pound of muscle mass, your “fuel” required to simply maintain bodily functions is higher than before, and your fuel expenditure is higher, meaning you burn more calories.

Muscle mass works for you all the time. It's not just during exercise, it's all the other time that that muscle is now working for you.

In addition, activities like running where you are not building muscle mass, and even dieting with the absence of strength training leads to indiscriminate weight loss: fat, muscle, bone, water…it all goes.

What are Some of the Benefits of HIE?

HIE positively impacts our health in many ways. These are some of the common benefits our clients experience:

Common benefits of slow motion strength training

One of the intangible benefits is the time efficiency. By only needing 20 minutes, twice a week to reap the benefits above and work towards your fitness goals, you gain precious time to focus on things that you want to do!

There’s Something Else You Should Know About Exercise:

There's no magic pill, but HIE is close to it.

The Perfect Workout, Mark Alexander, and many in our community want you to start questioning traditional exercise. Ask yourself, “Well, if I don't have three hours to spend in the gym, what do I do?”

Look at the research, look at the data, and look at all the people whose lives and bodies have been changed by HIE and Slow-motion strength training.

High-intensity exercise method is a pretty straight shot. And yes, it might be a climb. We're not saying it's not, but it's worth the climb.” – Mark

When incorporating HIE into your life be sure to remember these important components:

  • Exercise must be brief, short and intense.
  • Never sacrifice safety, effectiveness or efficiency
  • Exercise should be intense enough to hit muscle success around 1-2 minutes
  • Go slow with no rest in between repetitions, approximately 20 seconds per rep
  • Recovery is an important part of achieving results
  • More is not better
  • 20 minutes, twice a week is all you need

The best way to ensure you are performing HIE correctly and reaping the benefits is to work with a Certified Personal Trainer. Each of our trainers is accredited in Slow-Motion Strength Training, and our certification is extensive, hands-on and specialized in safety and efficiency.

Already training with us? Share this article with someone who needs to know about slow-motion strength training!

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