T Nation

Lifting Fast or Slow


was just reading in an Aussie mag which had an interview with the author (Ellington Darden)of the book "the new bodybuilding for old school results". I havne't read the book but in the interview he stated why do reps as fast as possible when u can do slow eccentric work. and said that lifting fast can be dangerous and cause injuries and lifting fast as speed/strength training should be separate from skills training.
THis kinda sounds different to a lot of other trainers like CW who has said lifting as fast as possible is good for strength, power and hypertrophy.

as i said i personally haven't read the book so i don't no the whole story but was just wondering about people's take on this and what they think or whether they have read the whole book.

cheers guys and gals.



Not everyone has to agree dude.

It's what makes things interesting.


My program incorporates both, using "heavy" and "light" days. On the "heavy" days, I do lower reps, 12-6 range, and faster concentric contractions. On "light" days, I do higher reps, 15-8 range, and slower eccentric contractions. Once a "heavy" cycle is completed, after all body parts have been worked, the next cycle will be "light" etc.



Too GENERALIZED ...as usual. Depends on the exercise, the muscle/muscles being activated. Depends on the resistance, goal, individual, age, RM, etc.etc...

Lastly ...there are a million speeds between fast and slow. How about starting slow then speeding up(is this not possible)? How about a million or circumstancial reasons why lumping millions of exercises into 2 cats is ridiculous?

Lifting speed is irrelevant! ...in the GENERAL sense.



People make things too hard. Muscles get stronger by doing work, where work = mass * acceleration * distance. Decreasing your acceleration by, say, 50% is exactly the same thing as decreasing the weight you use by 50% or doing half-reps instead of full reps. If you're not accelerating while you're lifting, you're gimping yourself.


I agree with rmexico for a different reason :
JOINTS and LIGAMETS !!!! Does it ring a bell ?
Explosive movement is a lot better because it focuses more on the muscles rather than joints.
So my final answer is : fast and explosive always ! Eventually you'll do it slow,but never on purpose,you do it slow because it's hard to lift,not because you want to!


Man, I wrote out a long detailed reply to this thread earlier today and thought I posted it, guess my computer screwed up or something.

I'll try to summarize my main points:

1) There are different phases of muscular contraction, doing one phase slow doesn't mean you can't do another phase quickly.

2) Slow eccentric contractions have the advantages of increasing Time Under Tension (TUT) which is important for hypertrophy.

Slower eccentric contractions also allow elastic energy that is naturally stored in the tendons and muscle fascia to dissapate, thus forcing the actual muscle contractile proteins to do the majority of the work in lifting the weight.

3) Explosive (fast) lifting has the benefits of recruiting more motor units. CW is a big proponent of it due to that reason.

4) There is no reason why one can't perform the eccentric portion of the lift slow and controlled and the concentric phase explosively. In fact, if you read a couple of Poliquin's articles you'll notice that in the ones geared towards advanced lifters, he has you doing just that.

Hope this helps.



I'm not understanding this... isn't this the general rule for TUT?

1-0-x = 1.5 sec per rep

Max Strength/Functional End Hypertrophy
2-0-1 = 3 sec per rep

Structural End Hypertrophy
3-1-3 = 7 sec per rep

8-0-4 = 12 sec per rep

Why slow or fast? It depends on what kind of training your doing???


I disagree with how you said decreasing acceleration by 50% decreases work by 50%. Why not put time into your work equation? Such as how long you are performing that work; Time under tension. Acceleration is good, heavy weight is good, but time under tension is also important. I feel, for aesthetic purposes, that time under tension is more important than quick acceleration, but both are important factors; finding the equilibrium that feels best for you is important.


I agree 100% with this post.


This was my answer. Most of my lifts are in the 7-10RM and I don't it would be conducive to gaining strength if I casually tried to lift it. In reality I'm only lifting the weight to the top so I can get another controlled negative down.


This statement is incorrect.

1- Decreasing the speed actually INCREASES the stress on a muscle & the time under it.
2- The most amount of stress on a muscle is when the resistance against it is moving the slowest and near a static(or zero speed).



Not a bad assessment, but all this is irrelavant when it pertains to hypertrophy. Stress placed on muscles forcing the contractile proteins to be broken down is all that matters. This can be done by standing up fast or standing up slowly. Just standing up out of your chair tears muscle fiber. Fibers are constantly being damaged and repaired.

At the end of the day, the muscle won't give a flying fuck how fast or slow the fibers were damaged, all it knows to do is to repair them by overcompensating and making them bigger & stronger ...this is a bi-product of STRESS and STRESS ACCUMULATION over time including the metabolic response, not lifting speeds.



It's simple really. For compound exercises (deadlift, squat, benchpress..) fast and explosive is clearly superior. For isolation (sissy?) movements, it's better to focus on a slow eccentric part.

Hope this helps.


Going slowly in the negative has been shown to slow down athletes (I don't remember where I read that.) If you lift for sport, do a thorough warm up and then lift fast and heavy.


Hmmm...while I understand where you're coming from and what you're trying to get across, the speed (or at least intention to move the bar at a fast or slow rate) is important in terms of hypertrophy.

Stress is very important, but, suggesting that the speed at which one attempts to move a bar has no relevance to how much hypertrophy (and also what fibers are recruited) is stimulated isn't accurate.

Your example of standing up out of a chair is also a little misleading. Muscle fibers are constantly being damaged, but why then don't we see people with great glute,hamstring and quad development who only stand up out of chairs?

The reason is that standing up out of chairs doesn't place enough stress on the larger more growth responsive fibers. Those are the fibers that need to be stressed and there are several ways to go about stressing them.

One is heavy lifting, one is lifting to failure, and the last one is lifting fast. If you're not doing one of those methods and providing your muscles with an overload (more work than they are accustomed to), you're not going to build the maximal amount of muscle.

Explosive, or ballistic, contractions have been shown to lower MU recruitment thresholds (just as fatigue does in a RE set), thus causing larger HTMU's to be recruited at lower percentages of 1RM.

So, in other words the muscle fibers that are recruited may not care how fast or slow one is attempting to lift a weight, but the nervous system does. And the nervous system decides which fibers to recruit based on the intended speed of the lift. Therefore intentionally lifting slow will stress different muscle fibers than intentionally lifting fast.

Good training,



Actually, this statement is incorrect. Lifting slowly can in some cases increase perceived strain, but load x will always stress a muscle more at speed 2 than it will at speed 1. I think you're confusing stress (as in intramuscular tension) with fatigue, or something.



1) Again ...lifting speed is a seperate entity & doesn't factor into the hypertrophy process. Breaking down the contractile proteins does, this does not require a SPEED when training.

2) Nobody ever mentioned a thing about fiber recruitment. But, I think that's where you want to take the idea of a hypertrophy response. Well then, fiber recruitment will have nothing to do with the hypertrophy process, in the sense that it has to be certain fibers or speeds.

3) Answer: Real easy ...STRESS. If there isn't a great enough of a stressor placed on the muscle, then the overcompensation will be very little. Still, nothing involving lifting speeds has been of use so far with the exception of fiber recruitment, which is a seperate argument from this one.

4) No! The answer is... standing up out of a chair doesn't involve enough stress, not unless it had some accumulation to it that was done over time and provoked an accumulation of volume response. No response is needed on ANY muscular fiber; rather it be slow or fast twitch, which is all growth responsive. You seem to miss the point that most of your muscles are made up of about half of each type of fibers.

I like the CW ass kissing going on here, but then again ...his theorys don't have much to show for hypertrophy when compared to real world results of historicly proven methods ...as opposed to theorys. Even his theorys are proven wrong with real world results, but they make a nice billboard I guess.

5) Hmmmm.... First TRUE thing you have really typed in the post. I'll AGREE!

6) You seem to want to argue RECRUITMENT, rather then lifting speed & its response to hypertrophy. Recruitment does me no good unless I break the contractile proteins down. I can recruit every strand of every muscle in my body in 1 rep, if the contractile proteins are not broken down and forced to overcompensate ...then so much for recruitment. On the other hand, I can recruit barely any fiber at all, but if I cause enough of it to break down ...then I create the hypertrophy response.

7) Mostly true ...although the thought process actually controls recruitment more than most think, regardless of the lifting speed or the load. But yeah, in a general sense that is correct. Trying to move the resiistance slower will involve a different recruitment pattern ...less the thought process that already went through the nervous system. Example: If I grab a weight and think beforehand that I'm going to curl it 50 timesl even though I may only be able to do it 25, the thought process helps stimulate which fibers will be needed to complete the task before a weight is even touched. Topic for another thread.

SIDE NOTE As long as you can seperate your ideas of fiber recruitment resulting in more or less hypertrophy, then you'll be more in tune here. The stress factor you are pretty much overlooking, the guy that stresses his muscle more will overcompensate better than you because he understood the rebuilding process. The recruitment process doesn't translate to an automatic overcompensation process. Recruitment translates to recruitment, that's it.

Lifting a weight slowly can or cannot have a hypertrophy response. Lifting a weight fastly can or cannot have a hypertrophy response. More or less hypertrophy in any lift(with regards to speed of the lift) is circumstancial and individual. The problem with CW's theorys are that they are too generalized, this makes things sound good in theory. In reality it takes more than a theory to actualize a result.

CONCLUSION: You have a good point(recruitment) but it is useless here. Trying to conform to others ideas really just limits your own. Not only that, it falsifies things that you already know as true. Perception of speed, and perception by neurological responses to those speeds & fiber recruitment also come into play here. Hypertrophy is a seperate entity. Don't mix oil & water ...it just creates a big mess.



Umm No. I am not confused at all. I understand this really well. The stress or "Force" on a muscle is the greatest when moving the slowest or near a static(zero speed). It can't really be said any simplier.

Example: Maybe this will help you think clearly.

Ask yourself. "If I'm bench pressing my 1 RM, would it be harder to do and have more stress on my muscles if i did it slowly for several seconds ...or faster in a second or two?" If you think that weight placed more stress on your muscles by lifting it fast as opposed to slow, then i can't help you understand. Maybe you should just try it out and find out for yourself. Ya know, theorys are all well and good until they're put to the test. Test it!

Quite simple really. The slower a resistance is moved, the more force it will place on your muscles.



Here's a link to some scientific charts ...for you "rebel" motherfuckers.