Effortless muscle gains: 3-second workouts, 3 times weekly for a fitter you

New research reveals a revolutionary technique for building muscle strength that requires just three seconds of exercise three times a week.

This study, conducted by Edith Cowan University in Australia in collaboration with Japanese institutions, shows remarkable results through a brief but potent exercise method [1]. In spite of the relatively small sample size, this study agrees with previous findings that eccentric exercises, which lengthen muscles, enhance fibrous tissue bands better than concentric exercises.

According to the study, eccentric training is more effective than conventional practices such as bicep curls. In contrast to common belief, the study argues that reversing the movement and elongating the muscle results in superior muscle conditioning. Despite its brief duration, this alternative method increases muscle firmness and triggers brain changes associated with increased muscle responsiveness.

The experiment involved 26 young, healthy adults divided into two groups. In one group, three-second bicep extension workouts were performed twice a week, while in the other group, the same exercise was done three times a week.

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Four weeks was used to assess the forces exerted by elbow flexors and the thickness of the biceps brachii and brachialis muscles. Researchers compared the results to an earlier study conducted five days a week that explored similar exercises [2].

The earlier study showed that muscle-lengthening exercises delivered better outcomes than muscle-shortening exercises, even with three-second workouts. Across four weeks of cumulative exercise, participants engaging in eccentric training observed an 11.5 percent enhancement in muscle strength. Exercise and sports scientist Ken Kazunori Nosaka anticipates this approach may have broader applications beyond bicep muscles, possibly enabling full-body exercises in under 30 seconds.

It is essential to clarify that these concise workouts primarily enhance muscle strength rather than cardiovascular fitness. Nonetheless, the study highlights the potential of three-second eccentric bicep contractions to yield impressive physical gains with just three weekly sessions [3].

Over the four weeks, participants who exercised thrice a week experienced a notable 2.5 percent increase in concentric strength and a significant 3.9 percent improvement in eccentric strength. Conversely, those exercising twice a week displayed no substantial enhancements.

Nosaka and his colleagues posit that the efficacy of these short workouts lies in the muscle’s improved recovery capacity.

The ample rest periods between exercises allow for better recovery, which could be linked to a ‘silent period’ in the motor cortex, a finding from a 2017 study, suggesting its involvement in bolstering muscle strength [4]. Although further investigation is required to elucidate the mechanisms, it seems that workout frequency potentially outweighs duration.

In closing, Nosaka underscores the importance of regular exercise, even in small amounts, to benefit the body. The study, featured in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, highlights a paradigm shift in muscle training, offering an innovative and efficient method to achieve significant muscle gains with minimal time investment.

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[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-023-05281-6
[2] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.00209/full
[3] https://www.sciencealert.com/shortest-workout-ever-3-seconds-of-exercise-3-times-a-week-grows-muscle
[4] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-017-3709-7

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