[SB 208] 3 seconds to muscle growth
I’m Matt, and welcome to Steady Beats. If you like to walk for a better life, and also like Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” you just might like this newsletter.
It’s a brief (but hopefully valuable!) edition this week. Very busy weekend, and it’s so hot in Florida I think my keyboard is melting.
3 seconds 3 times a week to stimulate muscle growth
A recent study demonstrates an effective alternative technique that achieves results after just three seconds of working out three times a week.
The group that lifted three times a week made real gainz:
After four weeks, participants who worked out three times a week saw, on average, a 2.5 percent increase in concentric strength and a 3.9 percent increase in eccentric strength.
That’s not the only mind-blowing result from this study.
Normally when we think of strength training, we think of the straining, grunting part — when we’re pushing the barbell up in a bench exercise, lifting a dumbbell during a curl, or dipping deep into a squat.
That’s the concentric phase of the exercise — the part where the muscle is contracting.
But the 3-second crew who made gains were focused on the eccentric phase of their exercises — the opposite motion, when the muscle lengthens.
You know—the part of the lift we don’t really think about.
But we should:
The study is small, but it supports previous findings that suggest eccentric, muscle-lengthening exercises can strengthen bands of fibrous tissue more efficiently than concentric, muscle-shortening actions.
Here are three encouraging takeaways for those of us in midlife trying to be strong and fit:
#1: Consistency is king
The article is fixated on the 3-times-per-week cadence (because that’s where the best results occurred), but that misses the point.
The point is that even very small amounts of exercise, done consistently, make a difference.
Consistency is king. What do we call this newsletter again?
#2 Eccentric phase for the win
The eccentric phase of a lift is the unsung hero, doing all the important work while the concentric phase gets all the fame and fortune.
Control your motion. Move slowly through the eccentric phase.
Slowing your eccentric phase may require using less weight. (For example, I backed my weights down earlier this year in order to slow down.)
Too many people use too much weight, and then attempt to rest during the eccentric phase by relaxing and rushing through it.
If you rush though the eccentric phase, you’re throwing away a lot (most?) of the benefit of the exercise.
Perform the entire movement slowly and safely. Eccentric phase FTW.
#3 Start small to build big things
Do have three seconds three times a week to work out?
A few weeks later, can you find ten minutes, three times a week, to work out?
In a few months, can you carve out 30 minutes, three times a week?
Thirty minutes, three times a week, done consistently, will put you in 95th percentile for strength and health amongst your peers.
See how this works?
It doesn’t take much to start a new habit. In fact, starting small makes you more likely to stick with that habit.
Start small. Play long games. Win big.
New old music
On TikTok, you can happily wander down a whole rabbit hole of artists who create new music in 1980s style using synth, drum machines, guitar solos, and saxophones.
Thank you for reading.
Let’s keep the Steady Beats going. 💚
If you enjoyed this edition, would you mind giving the heart below a click?