Should You Lift Weights Fast or Slow?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Should You Lift Weights Fast or Slow?

Dear Coach,


I am 31 years old and fairly new to the gym and exercise scene. Recently, I started a weight lifting program in order to tone my muscles and lose some extra weight. I am witnessing some results, which makes me very happy. I can see a change in the shape of my arms, abs, and legs. However, I am uncertain about the speed I should apply when lifting weights and performing lunges, squats, etc. Can you please give me your opinion on the recommended speed of lifting?


My questions are:       

1 – Would a particular speed get me better results?

2 – What speed do you recommend?

3 – How do you measure lifting?


I would really appreciate your opinion on this matter.

Inssaf A. I.

Dear Inssaf,


The topic of lifting speed is debatable. Some people find results in fast lifting, while others feel that they achieve good results in slow lifting. Of course, it all depends on the purpose and the goal of the exerciser, and, in my opinion, consistency in exercising remains the key element to any successful training program – being performed with a slow or fast speed.  


Generally, there are three speeds to lifting: slow, moderate, and fast. What I consider slow lifting duration is about 8 seconds – I know, it is slow. The timing of the positive lift would be about 3 seconds and 5 seconds for the negative motion (lowering the weight). In my experience, I found it to be most effective. The idea is to use more time during your eccentric movement (when you lower) because your negative muscle works best during this phase; you would also exhaust the muscle in fewer repetitions (6 to 8). Furthermore, slow speed lifting can put maximum tension on the muscles, and consequently cause the microtearing of muscle fibers (that is what helps you build muscles).


A slower lifting technique will enable you to build more muscle; it will also help in toning your muscles at a faster rate. Keep in mind that when you bring your muscles to failure point during slow lift training, your body burns more calories, even when you are resting (post workout). So, for these reasons, and for safer training, I certainly recommend slow lift training. It may take you a little while to get used to slow lifting, but I think it is worth the effort.


Fast lifting can help you develop strength and power. When you perform fast lifting, you are able to lift more weight because of the momentum factor. With fast lifting, the tendency of incurring an injury increases because one may get excited and jerk the body out of control. There is nothing wrong with fast lifting, though if you choose to do it, the form and posture of the body should not be compromised – this also goes for slow lifting. Lifting and moving the joint through all its range of motion is also important because it promotes the development of the whole targeted muscle.


Best of luck

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