The conventional wisdom has always been that to strengthen your arms, one should engage in bicep curls with dumbbells.
Depending on your existing muscle strength, you might opt for heavier or lighter weights. But recent findings have turned this widely accepted belief on its head, revealing an alternative that can make your biceps grow more rapidly with less exertion. What’s this revolutionary discovery? Putting more emphasis on stretching the biceps rather than contracting them.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University in Australia have found that muscle elongation exercises can effectively increase fibrous tissue more than contracting it with weights. This isn’t the first time such an idea has been proposed, but this study confirms and endorses previous hypotheses.
Unlocking the Full Potential of Your Muscles
“If we find this rule can be applied to other muscles, you might be able to do a workout for the entire body in less than 30 seconds”
While it’s true that lifting weights and muscle contraction burns more calories, this new method makes the muscle more robust. This fortification, in turn, enables the brain to better respond to muscle movements. To test this, the scientists split 26 young adults into two groups. One group extended their biceps for three seconds twice a week, while the other did the same but added an additional session, totaling three times per week. After two weeks, the group that trained thrice a week saw a better increase in muscle mass, though there wasn’t a significant overall improvement in bodily health.
In another study, it was hinted that relaxing the biceps for three seconds resulted in better muscle strength outcomes than contracting them. After just one minute of cumulative exercise spread over four weeks, experiment participants witnessed a strength boost of up to 11.5%. “We haven’t explored other muscles yet, but if we find this rule can be applied to them as well, you might be able to train your entire body in less than 30 seconds,” claims Ken Kazunori Nosaka, a sports trainer who discussed the findings with Science Alert.
According to this research, participants who performed exercises three times a week noticed an average 2.5% increase in their strength when contracting the muscle, and a 3.9% boost when they relaxed it. The magic number seems to be the frequency of repetitions per week. If you only practice twice a week, like the control group did, you’ll see no noticeable outcomes. Hence, a minimum of three sessions per week is essential.
“Our previous works already showed that shorter, regular exercises are more beneficial than one or two long training sessions weekly,” added Nosaka. “We now have a clearer understanding of where the tipping point is, the moment you start seeing significant results from the least amount of exercise. These new findings suggest you need at least three days a week to notice them.”
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