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Lift Slow to Get Fit Fast?

Can you get results in 20 minutes a week? Here's what the experts say.
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How about this for an exercise resolution: "I promise to lift weights once a week for 20 minutes."

Sound like a pledge you could keep?

According to Adam Zickerman, author of Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution, 20 minutes of very slow weight training weekly is all the exercise you need to burn calories, build bone density, and stay fit.

Twenty minutes a week is a much less intimidating commitment than the standard recommendation of at least three days of cardiovascular exercise and two days of strength training. But does it work?

Many in the fitness industry are skeptical, saying that the short weight workouts are so intense that people have a hard time sticking with them, and are likely to cause soreness. They also take exception with the idea that exercising once a week is enough and that aerobic exercise isn't necessary to stay fit.

But some who have used the Power of 10 workout are convinced it works for them.

Last November, 50-year-old Gail Markels of New York was diagnosed with osteopenia (thinning of the bones). She was working out with weights, but she didn't think she was challenging herself enough to get good results. In September, she started doing the Power of 10 fitness program with a trainer.

"In three months, I built up 4% bone mass in my hip and 2% in my wrist," Markels says. "I think the difference was this program. It's the only thing that really made a difference."

Unfortunately, she also lost 2% bone density in her spine. She's now concentrating on exercises to strengthen her back and believes she will reverse that.

The workout, she says, is very challenging but not impossible. Having a trainer helps her to stick to it.

"It's exhausting, and you're thinking, 'How am I going to get through it?' But I've got a kid in college and I want to be around to see my grandchildren. You do what you've got to do to stay fit and healthy."

How It Works

The program is simple, says Zickerman, ACSM, owner of InForm Fitness, a center that specializes in slow-cadence strength training.

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