A new study has revealed a technique for building muscle strength that requires only three seconds of exercise three times a week.
Researchers working with Australia’s Edith Cowan University (ECU) found that eccentric training is more effective is more effective than typical exercises like bicep curls. Their results show that superior muscle conditioning results from reversing the movement and elongating the muscle. Despite taking just nine seconds per week, this can increase muscle firmness and spark brain changes often associated with increased muscle response.
Participants consisted of 26 young and healthy adults who were divided into two groups. One group performed three-second bicep extension workouts twice weekly, while the second performed the same exercise three times per week. Each group performed the exercises over four weeks.
Researchers aimed to assess the forces exerted by elbow flexors in addition to the thickness of biceps brachii and brachialis muscles. For a comparison, they used the results from a similar study where participants performed similar exercises five days each week. That study confirmed muscle-lengthening exercises delivered superior results to muscle-shortening exercises.
Results of the new study showed that participants who engaged in eccentric training three times a week for four weeks gained an 11.5 percent increase in muscle strength. They also increased their concentric strength by 2.5 percent, and saw an increase of nearly four percent in eccentric strength. Those who exercised just twice a week saw no substantial improvement. The efficacy lies in the muscle’s improved recovery capacity due to the increased periods of rest between workouts.
Ken Kazunori Nosaka, co-author of the report and an exercise scientist at ECU, expects that this approach could be used for more than just bicep exercises. Ultimately, he believes it could enable full-body training in under 30 seconds. In the meantime, however, Nosaka reiterates the importance of regular exercise even if it’s just for a few seconds each week.