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Just 3 Seconds of Intense Exercise Makes a Muscle Stronger

0 2 years ago

When university students did bicep curls or isometrics at maximum effort for just three seconds, five days a week for four weeks, their biceps grew 10% stronger compared to a control group that did no specific exercising. While that might not be Jack LaLane-level strengthening, it adds to a growing body of research suggesting that you don’t have to work out for hours and hours to gain fitness.

Such brief but intense workouts could be particularly beneficial in preventing sarcopenia, the decrease in muscle mass and strength that comes with aging, says study leader Ken Nosaka, PhD, director of exercise and sports science at Australia’s Edith Cowen University.

If we don’t work at building muscle, we naturally start losing muscle fiber around age 30, on average, and by age 70 some 40% of muscle mass can be gone.

The new study was small, however, involving just 52 young adults in Japan ( 39 did the exercises, 13 were in the control group). The test involved biceps only, so it remains to be seen if the effect is similar on other muscles. But the exercise group literally did just 3-second workouts in each of the sessions, which added up to 1 minute of effort over the course of four weeks.

“The study results suggest that a very small amount of exercise stimulus — even 60 seconds in four weeks — can increase muscle strength,” Nosaka says in a statement. “We haven’t investigated other muscles yet, but if we find the three-second rule also applies to other muscles, then you might be able to do a whole-body exercise in less than 30 seconds.”

An important caution: Before you do any intense exercise, learn how to do it properly; the American Council on Exercise offers free tutorials for many popular workouts. Also, experts advise warming up before attempting vigorous exercise.


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