Once-A-Week Workouts?! How Slo-Mo Routines Are Shaking Up The Fitness World

As is the case for most gay men, my health and physical appearance have always been important to me. There’s nothing like feeling—and looking—fit! Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to be genetically engineered like an Adonis; I’ve always been the scrawny guy who’s self-conscious about never having “filled out.” (And if I was ever going to bulk up, it was going to require a lot of work.) Don’t get me wrong—I’ve never had any aspirations of being a competitive bodybuilder. But as a grown man, I was embarrassed that I still weighed what I did in high school and that my body seemed to have missed the boat when it came to maturing into an adult form. Like it or not, I had to get into a gym and make some things happen.

Little did I know the four- or five-day-a-week model had changed! For years, I tried to cultivate my relationship with working out, but basically always grew tired of spending hours a week in the gym. I had almost resigned myself to the fact that working out just wasn’t for me when, as in every good story, at the time of my greatest despair came a glimmer of hope. A new gym had just opened near home and was implementing a new workout program tailored to the busy professional. The pitch: Work out just once a week for less than an hour, stay committed to an overall healthy lifestyle, and you’ll see your body change for the better in more than one way.

It’s called Power of 10, and some have called it the slow-motion method that has the potential to revolutionize the fitness world. But is it too good to be true? Well, I’ve spent the last six months at InForm Fitness putting Power to the test, and the proof is in the results—less really can mean more.

According to the program’s founder, Adam Zickerman, the Power of 10 philosophy is based on the premise that safely maintaining and building muscle mass is the overarching goal of exercise. But contrary to long-held beliefs, we don’t have to overtrain—and potentially injure—our bodies in the process (à la the high-intensity craze of the moment).

“Muscle is, if you will, a high-maintenance and very needy tissue,” says Zickerman, “and in order to meet the incessant demands of our new muscle, our bodies develop denser bones, stronger hearts, improved sensitivity to carbohydrates, enhanced flexibility and better balance. The big difference between Power of 10 and the standard preconceptions of working out is that we understand that endurance and flexibility, among other things, improve along with muscle improvement, and therefore, separate cardio and stretching protocols are at best unnecessary and at worst counterproductive and injury-producing.”

So what does a slow-motion, once-a-week workout actually look like?

There are three important components that are critical for making Power of 10 work, says InForm Fitness trainer Ann Kirkland: intensity, rest/recovery and nutrition—commonly referred to as the Three Pillars of Power of 10.

Intensity: This is key to getting our bodies to adapt to higher levels of performance by approaching maximal intensity without using momentum. By moving very slowly through the exercise movements, the muscles are doing all of the work, while the joints and connective tissues are being spared from unnecessary impact and wear and tear. The more muscle fibers recruited and ultimately exhausted within a 90-to-120-second time frame, the more of an adaptive response your body will have to begin the repairing and building process.

Rest and Recovery: Where there is teardown, there needs to be repair. Without that balance, there’s no progress. Furthermore, Kirkland notes that with daily strength workouts, our bodies are continually in a weakened state, which can lead to overtraining injuries, compromised immune systems and subpar health. “It is not optimal to batter your body six days a week, because it disrupts the building/repair process of your muscle cells,” Kirkland adds. “At InForm Fitness, we send you home after your 30-minute full-body workout with instructions to get plenty of rest and avoid any additional strength training for five to seven days, as this is the amount of time your body will need to fully heal those weakened muscles. Would you continually pull and scratch at a cut on your arm and wonder why it wasn’t healing? No. You let it heal. Why would we treat weakened muscles any differently?”

Nutrition: Our bodies are well-designed, high-performance machines. They require good, clean fuel in order to fire on all cylinders. That means more lean meats, greens and organics and less sugars and carbs.

So after six months of slowing things down and being more conscious of my diet, what kind of results did I see? A major improvement in strength, endurance and overall improved physical fitness!

During my first workout in February, for example, I performed the leg press exercise using 80 pounds for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Doing the same exercise in June, I was able to press using 100 pounds of resistance while lasting 2 minutes and 12 seconds. That’s a 25 percent improvement in a pretty short amount of time! And such results were duplicated across the rest of my muscle groups. Remember, it’s not how much you lift or even how many reps you can do. It’s finding the right weight to totally exhaust a muscle group within a certain period.

It was the noticeable yet realistic results that first made InForm Fitness Toluca Lake owner Sheila Melody a Power of 10 believer nearly a decade ago. “The benefits for me, and for the clients I’ve seen so far, are that the results are far better than a typical weight training program in far less time,” she says. “I went to the gym for years and never saw the progress I’ve made with this workout. Not to mention I don’t have to spend 6 to 10 hours a week at the gym.”

Zickerman adds that Power of 10 gives people what they really need: a safe and sustainable exercise regimen and, just as importantly, their freedom and time back from the gym.

So am I now an Adonis? No (not quite yet). But I did manage to find a fitness routine that has truly enhanced my overall health and strength while not inconveniencing my lifestyle. For me and many others, the proof is in the science behind the training and the results of the process. I feel very fortunate to have found a home in the fitness world, even more fortunate to be feeling strong and healthy in my body. But most importantly, I’m fortunate to have looked fierce for swimsuit season.

For more info on Power of 10 and InForm Fitness, check out informfitness.com