Cut gym time in half by 'lowering' weights


When it comes to the gym, the subject of lifting weights can be divisive.

But here's some good news for those unconvinced by the idea of incorporating weights into their exercise regime - it may be possible to cut a weights routine in half and still see the same results.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University have reported that one type of muscle contraction is most effective at increasing muscle strength and muscle size, and rather than lifting weights, the emphasis should be on lowering them.

Their study findings showed that those who only lowered a weight saw the same improvements as those who raised and lowered weights - despite only performing half the number of repetitions.

"We already know only one eccentric muscle contraction a day can increase muscle strength if it is performed five days a week - even if it's only three seconds a day - but concentric (lifting a weight) or isometric muscle contraction (holding a weight) does not provide such an effect," Professor Ken Nosaka explained. "This latest study shows we can be far more efficient in the time we spend exercising and still see significant results by focusing on eccentric (lowering a weight) muscle contractions. In the case of a dumbbell curl, many people may believe the lifting action provides the most benefit, or at least some benefit, but we found concentric muscle contractions contributed little to the training effects."

As for putting the technique into practice, Professor Nosaka recommended taking a dumbbell and two hands to help with the concentric (lifting weight) phase, before using one arm for the eccentric phase (lowering weight), when performing bicep curls, overhead extensions, front raises and shoulder presses.

Full study results have been published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.