The next time your gym bro asks you about your sick gains, you can tell 'em that you're only pumping iron for three seconds per day.
If it sounds too good to be true, just wait — your new muscular mentorship comes courtesy of scientists who released a study last week in the Scandanavian Journal of Medicine & Science In Sports demonstrating that even just three seconds of lifting every day is enough to increase muscle strength and thickness.
The researchers, who come from Niigata University of Health and Welfare in Japan and Edith Cowan University in Australia, asked college students who don't normally exercise to perform one muscle contraction at maximum effort for three seconds per day, for five days a week over four weeks, according to an Edith Cowan writeup about the study.
"The study results suggest that a very small amount of exercise stimulus — even 60 seconds in four weeks — can increase muscle strength," lead researcher Professor Ken Nosaka said in the writeup. "Many people think you have to spend a lot of time exercising, but it’s not the case. Short, good quality exercise can still be good for your body and every muscle contraction counts."
Of the three weight lifting techniques the researchers tried, ECU reports that lowering a weight creates an "eccentric contraction" and was the most effective. The group using only eccentric contractions saw overall muscle strength improved by almost 12 percent. Which is pretty good for a fraction of a minute of effort!
"Although the mechanisms underpinning eccentric contraction’s potent effects are not clear yet, the fact only a three-second maximal eccentric contraction a day improves muscle strength in a relatively short period is important for health and fitness," Professor Nosaka said.
You can do anything for three seconds, so Nosaka's right. It's a good reminder that our mental health and bodies are worth investing in, and any good gym bro will tell you it's better to show up and do a short workout than never lift at home at all.
Will this study change the problematic, diet-culture loving fitness industry? Probably not, but with knowledge comes power, and you have the power to positively impact your body every day.
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