Just as the President of the United States has to battle the health care dilemma, gym-goers need to ponder the ongoing question of the weight room. “Am I exercising too fast, or just fast enough?” When it comes to performing successfully in the weight room, it comes down to a matter of speed, and as it turns out, most of us aren’t going at the risk speed to generate the results we want.  Is your intention to tone but lose thigh, belly and arm fat or do you want to bulk up and get ripped?  Whether you want Blake Lively’s lean and toned legs, Vin Diesel’s buff arms or Michael Phelps all-over toned swimmer’s physique, here’s a fool-proof guide to get you there, and then some.

The Bottom Line of Rep Speed

Setting your intention in the weight room is important, as your exercise speed will affect your results. Most people don’t go slow enough (regardless of their fitness goals) and according to best-selling author Jeff Anderson, who writes on the subject of body building, a rep should take four whole seconds to reach its peak, hold for two seconds and come back down for another four seconds until you reach your starting position. How many seconds do you currently spend on your reps?

So, the bottom line is this: if you want to bulk up, pick higher weights and lift those dumbbells and free weights slowly. If you want to slim down, pick lighter weights, and lift them at the four second/two second hold/four second to tone and burn calories.

How Slow vs. Fast Reps Affects Your Entire Body

Whether you engage in slow or fast repetitions, your body is going through a transformation. Physically, it’s tearing down and building up muscle, and mentally, it can take you through a tremendous amount of ambition and motivation. Your body is a machine, and when you strengthen it through weight lifting, it can be a well-oiled machine that can climb stairs without gasping and lifting heavy objects without painful back pain kicking in. But just imagine how differently your life – and the tasks in it – could be if you strengthened it properly?

Strengthening your body through slow or fast repetitions will cause your muscle groups to tear and rebuild, so no matter what your fitness goals are (bulk up or slim down) make sure that you rest your body for 24-48 hours so that it has time to heal before your next workout. Focus on a four second/two second hold/four second rep, and you’ll see a toned physique in record time that’s worth your ‘no pain, no gain’ workout.