There are lots of different approaches to working out and it seems that these days everyone has the answer. If it's not 'CrossFit' then it's 'HITT', 'occlusion training' or Sean T.'s 'Insanity Workout'.
It's pretty hard knowing what to trust and what to follow among all this conflicting advice that's fighting for your attention, and in fact it can almost be enough to put some people off of trying altogether.
But just to push you over the edge, I'm here to show you one more method of training to consider. Only this one is a little different in that it doesn't have a flashy name, won't cost you anything, and is a lot gentler and milder than any of those methods.
Let's start by examining the technique. What we're looking at here is a method of training that involves much slower repetitions or 'cadence' than you're used to, that uses lighter weights with higher sets of repetitions, and that only has one set for each exercise. You train your entire body in each session and you do this three days a week. In total you're looking at spending about an hour and a half in the gym each week, but the results if you're looking to build muscle or tone up are amazing I promise you…
So that's what you do, now the question is… why?
Well this form of training is actually very old and comes from something known as the 'Colorado Experiment'. This was an experiment in which a bodybuilder managed to gain large amounts of muscle much more quickly than most people thought possible after an injury. Although the experiment was a marketing ploy to sell fitness equipment, it turns out that the results are replicable – and the training method was adopted more recently by author Tim Ferriss in the book 'The Four Hour Body'.
The general concept is that many of the things we take as 'given' in the gym are actually unfounded and if we test our assumptions we can save a lot of time and reduce injury.
To increase muscle growth for instance, the most important factor in a workout is 'time under tension'. In other words, the more time you spend contracting – that is straining against the weights – the more microtears you'll create and the more your muscle will grow.
The thing is, there's only so much growing your muscles can do at any given time anyway, so there's really no point in going over the top. Actually doing one exercise is probably enough, especially if you repeat the exercises very slowly using a 5-5 cadence (five seconds up, five seconds down) for 10-20 repetitions. This way you actually spend more time working than if you 'thrust' the weights up, and you also build many more supporting muscles. At the same time though, you don't do such damage as to require a whole week to recover. With more time and more available energy, you can train your whole body part every session and essentially get three times the benefit compared with a regular 'split' routine.
It might sound too good to be true, but try the method and you'll see for yourself that it's still very painful and a lot of hard work. This is no 'cop out' but actually just a smarter way to train that will save you time.
As well as saving time though, there are other benefits to this kind of training too. For one, training more slowly can prevent injuries and you can actually rehabilitate many joint problems by slowly performing repetitions with light weights. This is a technique that some physical therapy experts and doctors recommend, and I managed to recover from a serious knee problem this way.
Likewise you can also use this kind of training to improve your endurance and strength, and you'll spend less time in pain and discomfort following your workouts. Give it a go for a month and you'll be amazed at the results. They really show you that it's better to train smart than it is to train hard…
The author of this article, Karen Fernandes, is a freelance blogger who enjoys sharing her ideas and experiences online. Her hobbies include gardening and pottery. She likes travelling and exploring new places in her leisure time.