Slow workouts are just as effective as fast ones. Here's how to reap the benefits

HIIT workouts have their place, but you can gain more strength and better form with slower workouts.

Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
Mercey Livingston
3 min read

Slow workouts are just as important as fast ones.

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When you think about getting in better shape, you might picture more grueling workouts, hours of cardio, bootcamps and more. But what if the key to getting stronger, moving better and improving your fitness routine was to slow down? 

Just as recovery is important, so is functional movement that often requires you to slow down, skip the adrenaline high you get from cardio and focus on form. If you're someone who loves cardio workouts, it may be a good idea to consider slowing down more regularly since sometimes doing intense cardio all the time can be unsustainable, and slowing down can help you focus on form and prevent injury.

Just ask Sam Ostwald, a dancer turned fitness trainer with DanceBody in New York City. Ostwald is a self-proclaimed cardio junkie, but says that the benefits you get from slower, functional workouts can actually make you better at your other workouts, especially if cardio is your thing. 

Keep reading for more advice from Ostwald on why you should try slower workouts, and how to incorporate them into your fitness routine.


When you slow down an exercise, it's easier to have a trainer help correct your form.

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Slower workouts can help you improve your form

Even if you see yourself as a workout expert, everyone needs to go back to the basics. Moving very quickly through exercises can mean that you're not fully aware of your form or able to execute the move correctly. It can happen whether you're new to a workout or even if you've done it before, but the fast pace has caused you to lose the correct form.

"If you're seeing a workout move for the first time, you may not catch what you're supposed to do until, say the fourth rep, and now you're only doing four reps of each movement, which doesn't give you the time to build up that burn that you feel in the muscle when you get that proper form and resistance," Ostwald said.

In addition to slowing down to focus on form, you can also have a better chance to really focus on the instructor to see what you should be doing. This is especially important when you're new to a class or workout that you've never seen before.

Read more: Peloton, Daily Burn and more: Best workout subscription apps  


Slow workouts, like yoga, can reduce the risk of injury and help you recovery from more intense workouts.

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"It gives you a chance to see the instructor do each movement and notice things you wouldn't notice if you were moving through it quickly. For example, is my palm facing the sky or down to the ground? Is my foot flexed, or pointed? Is my leg turned out? All of those things that you might not have the time to catch in a fast-paced class," Ostwald said. 

Low impact workouts can facilitate recovery and prevent injury

Less intense workouts are a great option if you are injured, need to make modifications if you're pregnant or post-natal or sore and in need of some active recovery. 

Recovery is just as important as your workout itself and overtraining is a fast-track to injury. "A slower-paced class can also be restorative, so you can do one on a rest day, especially if you normally do more high intensity, high impact classes," Ostwald said. 

Slow workouts can help you stick to your fitness goals

Sometimes it's too challenging to sustain an exercise routine that is made up of all intense or high-impact classes, so having a low-impact workout option, like Pilates or yoga, can be a smart addition to your routine. 

Besides, if your workout routine is so intense you can only do it for a few weeks or months, what's the point? The goal should be to find a routine that has longevity, so you're consistently getting all of the great benefits from exercise. 


Building up muscle strength with slower weight-lifting exercises can help you in your more intense workouts.

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Slowing down can help you be better at other more intense workouts

If you love cardio and find it hard to do other types of workouts like strength training or stretching, finding more time to slow down and do a different type of workout can actually help you get better at whatever cardio workout you love. 

"Every muscle you need to help you with cardio, whether that's to jump higher or move faster, or travel from side to side -- the intensity you can perform at [those exercises] comes from building the right muscles in a slower, strength-based class," Ostwald said. "So if you are a cardio junkie, I would encourage at least once or twice a week, to slow your body down, build the muscles and then take that back to cardio to help you."

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.