Positive Impact on Muscle Strength with 3 Seconds a Day of Weight Lifting


It has been discovered that lifting weights for a minimum of three seconds a day can still have a notable positive impact on muscle strength as discovered in a recent study from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in collaboration with researchers from Niigata University of Health and Welfare (NUHW). 

39 healthy Japanese students which directed to partake in one muscle contraction (either isometric, concentric or eccentric bicep curl) at maximum effort for three seconds per day. This was repeated for five days a week over a four-week consecutive period.  Researchers measured the biceps’ maximum voluntary contraction strength both prior to and post the four-week timeframe.

An isometric contraction is when the muscle and the associated joint doesn’t change length or move.

A concentric contraction is when the muscle is shortened due to a rise in tension where it meets a level of resistance at which point it stabilises. 

An eccentric contraction is when the muscle is lengthening under applied force so the muscle exceeds force produced by the muscle itself momentarily.

The data was then compared to that of a further 13 students who performed no exercise over the same period (once again measurements were taken before and after this period). 

Within the group who performed the eccentric bicep curl, there was an increase in muscle strength by up to 10% but less increase in strength was found for those performing the isometric (7.2%) and concentric exercise (6.3%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group who did not exercise at all did not see any strength gains.

Professor Ken Nosaka from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, Lead Researcher stated:

“The study results suggest that a very small amount of exercise stimulus – even 60 seconds in four weeks – can increase muscle strength.”

“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.”

This study revealed that all three forms of weight-bearing exercise are beneficially but eccentric muscular movements far surpassed that of isometric and concentric actions.

Professor Nosaka confirmed, “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 went on to explain that the findings were exciting news for the health and fitness industry as regular weight sessions can help with the prevention of sarcopenia – a decrease in muscle mass and strength associated with ageing.

“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,” he said.

“Also, performing only one maximal contraction per day means you don’t get sore afterwards.”

Professor Nosaka and NUHW’s Dr. Masatoshi Nakamura designed the study. Data was collected by Dr Nakamura and his PhD and Masters students.

Please do talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your exercise regime.

Shigeru Sato,Riku Yoshida,Fu Murakoshi,Yuto Sasaki,Kaoru Yahata,Kazunori Nosaka,Masatoshi Nakamura

First published: 01 February 2022 https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.14138


Rarick G, Larsen G. Observations on frequency and intensity of isometric muscular effort in developing static muscular strength in post-pubescent males. Res Q Am Assoc Health Phys Educ. 1958;29:333-341.

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