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How to lift less and still get ripped

Struggling to fit in a daily workout? A new study says that you may be able to cut your weights routine and still make gains

Only lowering a weight can have the same effect as a complete rep (Unsplash)

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New research has shown one type of muscle contraction is most effective at increasing muscle strength and muscle size, and rather than lifting heavier weights, the emphasis should be on lowering them.

The team, which also included researchers from Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan and Brazil's Londrina State University, had groups of people perform three different types of dumbbell curl exercises and measured the results.

It found those who only lowered a weight saw the same improvements as those who raised and lowered weights -- despite only performing half the number of repetitions.

Also read: How to lift weights the correct way

ECU's Professor Ken Nosaka said the results reinforced previous research indicating a focus on "eccentric" muscle contractions -- in which activated muscles are lengthened -- is more important to increase the strength and size of muscles rather than the volume.

"We already know only one eccentric muscle contraction a day can increase muscle strength if it is performed five days a week -- even if it's only three seconds a day -- but concentric (lifting a weight) or isometric muscle contraction (holding a weight) does not provide such an effect," Professor Nosaka said.

“This latest study shows we can be far more efficient in the time we spend exercising and still see significant results by focusing on eccentric muscle contractions. In the case of a dumbbell curl, many people may believe the lifting action provides the most benefit or at least some benefit, but we found concentric muscle contractions contributed little to the training effects,” he said

Also read: Why women should lift weights

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