Rise for slow ex­er­cise

HIIT-ING it hard isn’t your only option. Sac­ri­fic­ing speed for form could put you on the fast track to last­ing re­sults

Women's Health Australia - - NOVEMBER 2017 - By Siob­han Nor­ton

Add some slow, steady moves to your work­out and get a siz­zling bod, stat

AIt was the mo­ment my in­struc­tor yelled “Smash it!” while crank­ing up the tread­mill, I de­cided this wasn’t what I needed in my life right now. Don’t get me wrong – I love a tough work­out. I want re­sults in the small­est window; to go home and fall into one of those smug sleeps, know­ing that

I’ll ache the next morn­ing. But after a stress­ful day, is be­ing told to smash things re­ally best for my body and mind? HIIT has be­come our go-to ex­er­cise mode. It’s designed to stress and shock your body, so your mus­cles are forced to adapt and your metabolism goes into over­drive. Which is pre­cisely why its fat-strip­ping, body-lean­ing cre­den­tials stack up. But how good is all that pres­sure? While HIIT’S proven to pro­duce less of a cor­ti­sol spike than, say, long-dis­tance run­ning, it’s not exactly a spa day for your stress hor­mones. And, ex­plains trainer Lee Mullins, if you’re al­ready push­ing your­self to break­ing point, you may strug­gle to stick with it. “If you’ve had a tough day at the of­fice, then try to get through a HIIT class, chances are you’ll end up re­ly­ing on caf­feine and sug­ary foods to push through. It can be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.”


The truth is a slower pace doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean slower re­sults. First con­sider this: a study in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Sports

Medicine showed that adding low-im­pact ex­er­cise to a rou­tine a cou­ple of times a week won’t jeop­ar­dise gains in strength or mus­cle size. “Peo­ple as­so­ci­ate hard work with re­sults,” Mullins says. “It can be hard to con­vince them to scale back. But usually it’ll mean more com­pli­ance – and, ul­ti­mately, bet­ter re­sults.”

Plus, be­sides dodg­ing the in­jury risk of going fast and fu­ri­ous while ne­glect­ing your form, slower and more con­trolled move­ments can actually be more ef­fec­tive, its pro­po­nents ar­gue. Much of Justin Gel­band’s method – the man behind Modelfit, the New York gym where su­per­model Kar­lie Kloss hones her long, lean physique – fo­cuses on small, con­trolled iso­met­ric move­ments. “When ex­er­cises are done in very small move­ments – the smaller the bet­ter – you are forc­ing the brain and body to con­nect,” Gel­band ex­plains. “By going slow, you are us­ing re­sis­tance the whole time to en­gage more of the mus­cle – rather than re­ly­ing on mo­men­tum, which is cheat­ing!”

In the UK, Rev5 gym is tak­ing that prin­ci­ple and (not lit­er­ally) run­ning with it. Founder An­gela Steel claims that 15 min­utes of ex­tremely slow weight train­ing, once a week, is all you need to build strength. The move­ments are slowed to a snail’s pace, mean­ing ev­ery­thing you do is eas­ier on the joints and heart – but tough, re­ally tough. With­out mo­men­tum or a few pos­tural cheats to get you through

(there’s no throw­ing your back into it), 15 min­utes can feel like a life­time. But for many, this is the ul­ti­mate way to work out.

Rev5 is based on Su­per­slow, a concept devel­oped by US in­ven­tor Ken Hutchins in the ’80s. Be­fore that, body builders had been us­ing slow reps to push through plateaus since the 1940s. Hutchins re­fined the tech­nique after dis­cov­er­ing that slow, steady weight train­ing helped women with os­teo­poro­sis to build mus­cle and in­crease bone den­sity.


Slow weight train­ing isn’t for ev­ery­one – it can be chal­leng­ing, and new­bies can suf­fer from mus­cle sore­ness for days after. But fans en­joy the men­tal chal­lenge as much as the phys­i­cal. “Clients like seeing what you can achieve when you push your­self,” Steel says. “One man even told us that it helped his fo­cus in pre­sen­ta­tions. Slow­ing your work­out can feel like a mov­ing med­i­ta­tion, bring­ing the fo­cus in­wards. In a way, it’s a re­ally good mind­ful­ness prac­tice, and puts you back in tune with your body.”

And if you’re still crav­ing the all-out, run-for-your-life sweat-fest, fear not. The of­fi­cial word is that a mix of styles will serve you best. A re­port by the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Ex­er­cise found that HIIT just pips slow weight train­ing in terms of kilo­joules burned. But a Nor­we­gian study re­leased last year in­di­cated that women who limited HIIT to three times per week saw bet­ter im­prove­ment in overall fit­ness than those who used it more fre­quently. “Ev­ery client is dif­fer­ent, but in gen­eral I would ad­vise to mix up high- and low­in­ten­sity days,” Mullins agrees.

On that note, turn the page to find Gel­band’s ex­clu­sive seven-move slow work­out, tar­get­ing ev­ery ma­jor mus­cle group in the body…

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