Clang, Clank, Grunt, Ooph, the sounds of a gym are filled with the rapid effort as lifters power the bars up and down building strength and muscle. Then over in the corner you see this massive, powerful man moving slowly. He looks out of place. The bar rises slowly, and comes down even slower. He is not out of place, he simply knows slow weight lifting can be highly beneficial.
Plateaus in strength gains and muscle growth are common in training. You get stuck. Sometimes the plateaus lasts for weeks and becomes exceedingly frustrating. The only way out of a plateau is to force your muscles to adapt. Slow weight lifting is one technique which is guaranteed to force your muscles to change, to grow, and to adapt.
The secret to slow weight lifting is not in just the lifting phase, but even more importantly in lowering the weight. Instead of a rep lasting only 5 to 7 seconds for the entire motion, you want only the upward phase to last the 7 to 12 seconds. It feels slow, it will feel intense, and it requires extreme focus. Do not expect to lift the same weight as you did before, you are torturing the muscle.
Now comes the real magic. Lower the weight for at least the same length of time, preferably for 25 to 50% longer. If you lifted the weight for 8 seconds, lower for 10 to 12 seconds. If you thought the lift took extra focus and effort so does the reverse. You are going to feel this stress your muscles as you work for control.
If your muscles had established a good groove in your old patterns you may have reached the point where muscle soreness was not common after workouts. Be prepared when you change to slow weight lifting your muscles are going to ache the next day. It is a good ache. It is the ache which tells you the muscles are being forced to adapt. You will know growth and strength gains are on the way again.
Before you drop into the idea slow weight training should become your standard method, you must understand there are benefits in both methods. Slow lifting changes focus, targets other muscle tissues, and works auxiliary muscles much harder. Normal speed, or even rapid weight lifting focuses on faster twitch muscles and is critical if you are attempting to build strength for sports which require explosive power and speed.
The real magic in slow weight lifting comes from the shock it gives your muscles. It is a great way to throw variety into your weight lifting routines. You can even establish a schedule of lifting at regular speeds for several weeks and then throw in a week of slow weight lifting to give your muscles the change up they really need. You can help to avoid plateaus, build bigger muscles, and increase total strength. Variety is what keeps muscles growing.