Vol.2, No.10, 1156-1162 (2010) Health
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Slow movement resistance training in women
Shunsuke Yamaji1*, Shinichi Demura2, Narihiro Watanabe3, Masanobu Uchiyama4
1Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan; *Corresponding Author: yamaji@u-fukui.ac.jp
2Graduate School of Natural Science & Technology, Kanazawa University, Ishikawa, Japan
3hiroNARI, Fukui, Japan
4Research and Education Center for Comprehensive Science, Akita Prefectural University, Akita, Japan
Received 6 July 2010; revised 13 July 2010; accepted 21 July 2010.
A resistance training protocol of low intensity
and short duration allows for increased training
frequency and improved compliance. This study
aimed to examine the short-term (response of
growth hormone (GH) and testosterone after
one exercise session) and long-term (change of
fitness level and body fat percentage after the
exercise period) effects of slow movement resi-
stance training using the individual’s body mass
(hiroNARI style training) in adult women and to
clarify their subjective sense of training contin-
uity. Nineteen healthy adult women performed
hiroNARI style training three times a week for 12
weeks. This protocol consisted of 12 types of
exercise for 7 muscle groups. GH and testos-
terone increased significantly after one exercise
session (70% and 23.3%, p < 0.05, respectively).
Height and the circumferences of the upper arm
(flexed), chest, waist, hip, and thigh changed si-
gnificantly. Except for the upper arm circumfe-
rence, these parameters improved significantly
after 6 weeks. There were significant improvem-
ents in measurements of physical fitness after 6
weeks including one leg raise with eyes closed,
side step, and repeated sit ups for 30 s. After 12
weeks, anteflexion from a long sitting position
improved as well. Triglycerides and HDL and LDL
cholesterol changed significantly after 12 weeks.
In conclusion, resistance training may have po-
sitive effects and is associated with high comp-
liance. However, it will be necessary to reexam-
ine the training protocol for increasing back and
lower limb muscle strength and necessary vari-
ations to prevent overtraining of certain muscle
Keywords: Resistance Training; Growth Hormone;
Testosterone; Physical Fitness
Resistance training improves the musculoskeletal system,
maintains various physical functions and prevents oste-
oporosis and sarcopenia [1,2]. Recently, researchers rep-
orted that resistance training may positively affect risk
factors such as insulin resistance [3], resting metabolic
rate [4], glucose metabolism [5], blood pressure [6], and
body fat [7], which are associated with diabetes, heart
disease [8], and cancer [9].
In order to gain the above effects, a basic resistance pr-
otocol consisting of two or three sets of three to 15 repe-
titions using 60 to 80% 1RM (repetition maximum) must
be performed at a frequency of two to three times a week
[10-12]. However, for inexperienced individuals or those
with time constraints, it is difficult to maintain the above
protocol. Because the effects of exercise and physical ac-
tivity, including resistance training, can only occur after
adherence to a protocol for a certain period of time, pri-
ority should be given to the design of exercise protocols
that are amenable to long-term compliance.
The goals of resistance training for the majority of mi-
ddle-aged people are to maintain and enhance good hea-
lth and to improve body proportion rather than hypertr-
ophy and improvement of muscle function. The above
benefits can be acquired with a safe, low intensity train-
ing protocol [10]. Furthermore, training frequency may
be a more important factor than intensity and repetition
of exercise [13]. Training for only one day each week
produces slight improvement of strength and hypertro-
phy outcomes, but its benefit on other risk factors related
to the health-related disease and obesity remains unclear
An adequate resistance training protocol of limited du-
ration contributes to increased training frequency and
improved compliance [10]. The total duration of aerobic
exercise is determined by perceived exertion (RPE) or
heart rate. However, that of resistance training can not
be easily determined because it depends on a combina-
tion of repetition, number of sets, interval time, and trai-
S. Yamaji et al. / Health 2 (2010) 1156-1162
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
ning region, using the specific rate of one repetition ma-
ximum (1RM) as intensity [14]. Moreover, the training
protocol (intensity, repetition, and number of sets) must
be carefully designed because delayed onset muscle sor-
eness caused by resistance training hinders exercise con-
tinuity. Light training of low intensity decreases physical
distress but does not yield dramatic results.
Tanimoto and Ishii [15] reported that low intensity,
less than 50% 1RM, exercise with slow movement (3-4
sec in concentric and eccentric contraction) resulted in si-
milar improvements in muscle mass and strength as high
intensity (80% 1RM) training with normal speed move-
ments. This suggested that slow movements produce an
ischemia caused by increased intramuscular pressure and
accelerated secretion of growth hormone (GH) and insu-
lin like growth factor I (IGF-I). On the other hand, stabi-
lization exercises, which are commonly used for patients
with low back pain in rehabilitation settings, consist of
slow concentric and eccentric contractions using the ind-
ividual’s body weight or manual loads for 3-4 sec and is-
ometric contraction for 5 sec (posing phase) [16]. Stev-
ens et al. [17] reported that performance of the above ex-
ercises for 8 weeks increased muscle activation volume
and muscle fiber recruitment. Short duration resistance
training with slow movements using the individual’s bo-
dy weight as a load provides physical benefits and is as-
sociated with improved compliance.
This study aimed to examine the short-term (response
of GH and testosterone after one exercise session) and
long-term effects (change of anthropometric characteris-
tics, fitness level and serum chemistry value after the ex-
ercise period) of resistance training with slow movem-
ents using the individual’s body weight (hiroNARI style
training) in adult women. It also sought to clarify their
subjective sense of training continuity.
2.1. Subjects
Subjects included 19 healthy adult women who did not
have emmeniopathy or regular participation in any form
of resistance training and exercise (Age: 33.4 ± 10.8 yr,
range = 20 – 48 yr). All subjects completed a health que-
stionnaire. All subjects rated their health as “good” or
“fairly good” except for one person (“not too good”).
Four subjects rated their physical strength as “average”
and fifteen answered “inferior”. After explaining the aim
and method of this study, all subjects provided informed
consent. The Ethics and Research Committee of the Fa-
culty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, ap-
proved this study.
2.2. Design
The objective of this study was to examine the short-te-
rm effects of slow movement training (hiroNARI style
training) on GH and testosterone after one exercise ses-
sion, and the long-term effects on anthropometric char-
acteristics, physical fitness and serum chemistry after 12
weeks. For these reasons, healthy adult women perfor-
med hiroNARI style training three times a week for 12
weeks. The above parameters were measured at the be-
ginning of the training program and after 6 and 12 weeks
of training.
2.3. Methodology
Table 1 shows a schema of slow movement resistance
using the subject’s own body mass (hiroNARI’s method).
Subjects performed 12 exercises for the following 7 mu-
scle groups: abdominal (three forms), femoral and glu-
teal (two forms), back (one form), pectoral (one form),
brachial (two forms), shoulder (two forms), and lower th-
igh (one form). Oblique curls and lateral leg raises were
performed bilaterally. The exercise session consisted of
one set of 6 repetitions of each exercise and was per-
formed three times a week for 12 weeks.
The subjects performed a slow movement consisting
of tonic force generation without relaxation as follows: 3 s
concentric action, 6 s pause, 2 s concentric action, and 3 s
eccentric action (Figure 1). The inter-rest period between
each exercise and the total exercise time were 15s and
approximately 23 min, respectively. The subjects perfor-
med the exercise according to the instructor’s perform-
ance which was projected by DVD on a screen.
The short term effects of the exercise were examined
by the levels of GH and testosterone in serum samples
after one exercise session. Blood (6 ml) was drawn from
the antecubital vein before exercise and at 15 min after
exercise. Subjects ate nothing for 4 h and refrained from
ingesting alcohol and caffeine for 24 h before sampling.
Table 1. Slow motion resistance training.
(hiroNARI’s method)
Repetition 6 times
Set 1 set
Interval 15 s
Training formsAbdominal Curls
Oblique Curls
Dual Torso Curls
Modified Squats
Lateral Leg Raises Hip Adduction
Back Extension
Modified Push Ups
Back Row
Shoulder Press
Bicep Flexion
Tricep Extension
Calf Raises and Face
S. Yamaji et al. / Health 2 (2010) 1156-1162
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Abdominal Curls
(1) Concentric contraction : 3 s
(2) Isometric contraction: 6 s (maintain body position)
(3) Concentric contraction : 2 s
(4) Eccentric contraction : 3 s
Figure 1. Schema of slow motion training.
No other strenuous exercise was performed for 24 h be-
fore each experimental session.
Blood sampling was conducted at 5:30 p.m. in order
to reduce the impact of nycthemeral variations on horm-
onal concentrating. Blood was centrifuged at 3,000 rpm
(5000 × g) for 10 min. All serum samples were then dis-
tributed to the appropriate preservative tube and stored at
80 deg C until analysis. Serum concentrations of GH
and testosterone were measured with radioimmunoassay
using commercially available kits (Diagnostic Products,
Los Angeles, USA). To eliminate inter-assay variance,
all samples were analyzed within the same batch; all in-
tra-assay variance was < 5%. If the subject was within
±3 days of the peak day of their menstrual cycle, then
the blood sample was given as soon as possible during
the designated test period.
The long term effects of the exercise regimen were
examined by blood biochemistry (LDL, HDL and total
cholesterol, triglyceride and fasting blood sugar), blood
pressure, anthropometric measurements, body composi-
tion, and physical fitness after weeks 0, 6, and 12. Sub-
jects were instructed to maintain the same level of phy-
sical activity and avoid additional exercise during the
study, but were not given any special nutrition manage-
ment or food restrictions.
The blood pressure from the left radial artery was
measured by an automated sphygmomanometer (COLIN,
BP-203RVII) after resting for 30 min. Blood samples (7
ml) were also taken at 12 weeks and the samples were
processed as described previously.
The following anthropometric measurements were me-
asured by an expert tester: height, weight, and circumfe-
rences of the upper arm (flexed), chest, waist, hip, thigh,
and calf. Body composition was measured by bioelectri-
cal impedance (Tanita, BF-100). The physical fitness
test consisted of grip strength, back strength, standing
broad jump, repeated sit ups for 30 s, one leg standing
with eye closed, side step, and anteflexion from the long
sitting position. The above measurements were perform-
ed 5 h after lunch.
In addition, subjects were asked to give a subjective
assessment of the exercise before and after the training
2.4. Statistical Analysis
A paired t-test was used to evaluate the change of GH
and testosterone before and after the exercise period.
Repeated ANOVA was used to evaluate the long-term
effects of the exercise on blood pressure, body composi-
tion, and physical fitness after 0, 6, and 12 weeks. The
magnitude of the mean difference was evaluated by the
effect size (ES) for t-test and the partial η2 for ANOVA.
The level of significance was preset at p < 0.05 for all
3.1. Acute Changes in Hormone
Growth hormone and testosterone increased significantly
after one exercise session (70% (t(18) = 4.76, p = 0.000)
and 23.3% (t(18) = 6.35, p = 0.000), respectively) (Fig-
ure 2). The effect sizes were moderate (0.87 and 0.51,
Growth hormone (ng / ml)
Testosterone (ng / ml)
Pre-training Post-training
Figure 2. Acute change in hormone me-
asurements after one exercise session.
(*p < 0.05)
S. Yamaji et al. / Health 2 (2010) 1156-1162
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3.2. Compliance
All subjects continued the exercise for a 12 week exer-
cise period. Ten (52.6%) stated that their physical fitness
improved from baseline. Twelve (63.2%) realized posi-
tive exercise effects after 6 weeks and seventeen (89.5%)
realized positive exercise effects after 12 weeks. Only
two (10.5%) felt that the length of the exercise session
(about 23 min) was too long. Fifteen felt that the proto-
col was “easy-to-follow” and the rest felt “bored” after 6
weeks. The number who felt that the protocol was “easy-
to-follow” decreased to 10 after 12 weeks.
3.3. Changes in Blood Fat, Anthropometric
Measurement, and Physical Fitness
Height and the circumferences of the upper arm (flexed),
chest, waist, hip, and thigh changed significantly (Table 2).
Except for the upper arm, these parameters improved si-
gnificantly after 6 weeks. There were significant improve-
ements in several physical fitness tests including one leg
standing with eye closed, side step, and repeated sit ups
for 30 s after 6 weeks and anteflexion from a long sitting
position after 12 weeks (Table 2). The effect sizes of hip
and waist circumferences and repeated sit ups for 30 s were
over 0.57. Triglyceride and HDL and LDL cholesterol
changed significantly after 12 weeks (Table 2).
The present resistance training protocol increased secre-
tion of GH and testosterone significantly. GH secreted
from the hypophysis results in secretion of IGF-I, resul-
ting in muscular hypertrophy and improvement in musc-
le strength [1]. Previous studies have indicated increases
in GH in both sexes with general resistance training, ho-
wever increased testosterone concentration has not gen-
erally been found in females [15,18,19]. As a result, fem-
ales do not develop muscle hypertrophy with resistance
training [11]. Although previous studies [11,15,19] re-
ported that the testosterone increase in females was less
than that in males, a significant increase was found after
one exercise session in this study.
Table 2. ANOVA results for each parameter before and after training.
Base line After 6 weeks After 12 weeks ANOVA
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD F (2, 36)P Partial η2
Blood pressure
Systolic (mmHg) 125.2 14.5 124.3 17.5124.5 13.8 0.1 0.92 0.01
Diastolic (mmHg) 77.6 11.1 76.5 10.277.2 9.9 0.2 0.84 0.01
Anthropometric measurements
Height (cm) 158.2 3.8 158.6 3.8 158.5 3.7 13.4 0.00* 0.43 1 < 2,3
Body mass (kg) 54.4 5.9 54.4 5.5 54.1 5.5 0.6 0.54 0.03
Percent body fat (%) 26.9 4.7 27.4 5.1 27.7 5.3 2.1 0.14 0.10
Lean body mass (kg) 39.5 3.0 39.3 3.2 38.9 3.4 2.5 0.10 0.12
Chest (cm) 84.2 5.7 85.7 5.9 86.3 6.0 9.1 0.00* 0.34 1 < 2,3
Waist (cm) 81.1 7.8 78.2 7.8 75.5 5.9 23.5 0.00* 0.57 1 > 2 > 3
Hip (cm) 95.0 4.0 94.1 3.8 92.5 3.8 51.9 0.00* 0.74 1 > 2 > 3
Upper arm (flexed) (cm) 26.0 2.0 25.7 1.9 25.1 2.1 4.3 0.02* 0.19 1 > 3
Thigh (cm) 52.5 3.2 50.5 3.2 48.3 7.0 5.0 0.01* 0.22 1 < 2,3
Calf (cm) 34.9 2.1 34.5 1.9 34.3 1.8 1.9 0.16 0.10
Physical fitness test
One leg standing (s) 22.8 19.8 37.7 28.742.6 40.2 3.4 0.05* 0.15 1 < 2,3
Side step (times) 39.3 7.8 43.5 4.0 44.3 4.7 12.8 0.00* 0.42 1 < 2,3
Repeated sit ups (times) 16.6 6.3 19.6 5.2 21.9 4.2 30.5 0.00* 0.63 1 < 2 < 3
Grip strength (kg) 28.3 5.8 28.2 5.7 29.7 6.3 2.1 0.14 0.10
Grip strength (left hand) (kg) 27.8 5.5 27.7 5.8 28.1 5.1 0.2 0.79 0.01
Back strength (kg) 77.6 19.6 77.1 19.976.9 22.5 0.0 0.96 0.00
Standing broad jump (cm) 149.6 26.7 153.5 20.4158.7 19.6 1.5 0.24 0.08
Anteflexion from sitting (cm) 38.3 7.9 37.3 6.9 42.4 6.8 16.2 0.00* 0.47 1,2 < 3
Blood biochemistry
HDL cholesterol (ng/ml) 61.7 13.3 63.1 12.266.0 12.3 3.5 0.05* 0.17 1 < 3
LDL cholesterol (ng/ml) 112.7 31.4 107.7 26.1112.2 24.9 1.1 0.35 0.06
Total cholesterol (ng/ml) 199.5 38.7 186.6 33.3196.3 29.4 3.4 0.05* 0.16 1 > 2
Fasting blood sugar (ng/ml) 93.1 13.8 90.6 8.0 89.8 7.9 0.6 0.57 0.03
Triglyceride (ng/ml) 144.8 89.3 113.3 63.4102.6 47.6 5.3 0.01* 0.23 1 > 3
*p < 0.05
S. Yamaji et al. / Health 2 (2010) 1156-1162
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The degree to which hormone response contributes to
muscle hypertrophy and muscle strength remains unclear.
Hence, the increased hormone level in this study must be
compared to the secretory volume before and after gen-
eral resistance training [1,2,20,21]. However, these hor-
mones are largely affected by individual differences inc-
luding age and trainability [15], which tended to be large
in this study. Furthermore, using the individual’s weight
for intensity may have also affected the above. Further
study with an electromyogram will be necessary to dete-
rmine whether the present training intensity corresponds
to a range of relative intensity level (% 1RM).
The effects of resistance training on weight and body
fat are unclear. The consumption energy for resistance
training was reported to be 4-10 kcal/min even if the
protocol involved use of major muscle groups without
rests between each training item [14]. This consumption
energy is less than that of aerobic exercise with moder-
ate intensity [22-24]. Body weight and fat decreased sli-
ghtly after 12 weeks. Previous studies reported that res-
istance training increases basal metabolism by increasing
muscle volume, thereby decreasing body weight and fat
[14]. However, the 12 week training did not affect these
Height significantly increased at 6 weeks, even thou-
ght the subjects were adult women. Although height has
a circadian variation of ±2 cm [25,26], this was not felt
to play a role in these findings as height was measured at
the same time of day (17:30). The observed height incre-
ase may be the result of improved standing posture and
antigravity muscle strength (i.e., abdominal and back
mu- scles) and decreased spine shrinkage.
As stated above, the waist, hip, flexed upper arm, and
femur circumferences significantly decreased despite ma-
intenance of body weight and fat. Particularly, the de-
crease in waist and hip circumference tended to be large
(mean decrease in volume: 5.6 cm and 2.5 cm, ES: 0.57
and 0.74, respectively). Waist circumference is deter-
mined mainly by the entrails, visceral and subcutaneous
fat, and muscles. As body fat was unchanged by training,
the decrease of waist circumference may be explained by
an increase of abdominal pressure based on the im-
provement of abdominal muscles.
On the other hand, the decrease of hip circumference
may be explained by improvement in the subcutaneous
fat near the gluteal muscles. However, this is speculation
as this study did not measure changes in visceral and su-
bcutaneous fat. In general, there have been reports that
exercise causes a selective decrease in subcutaneous fat
of the region stimulated by exercise [27]. Hence, it may
be valid to interpret the present results as improvements
of body proportion, rather than decreases of body cir-
The performances on the physical fitness test at base-
line were below same age standard values. All measure-
ements except for grip and back strength and standing
broad jump improved significantly after the exercise
period. In particular, the improvement of sit ups for 30 s
was the largest (partial η2 = 0.63). This test requires mu-
scle endurance and strength. This observation is likely
the result of the greater proportion of abdominal exer-
cises in the exercise protocol (3 of 12 forms).
On the other hand, back strength did not improve sig-
nificantly. This may indicate that the training protocol
did not focus on the back muscles adequately. In short,
back muscle exercises consist of a small range of motion,
involving repeated deflection from lying flat on the sto-
mach. Thus when compared to abdominal muscle exer-
cises, the exercise stimulus may not be sufficient to cre-
ate satisfactory results. These back muscle exercises will
need to be revised and reexamined in the future.
Lower limb exercises included modified squat, lateral
leg raise hip adduction, and calf raise. Performance of
side steps and one-leg standing with closed eyes impro-
ved significantly after the exercise period, but the stand-
ing broad jump did not. These results may be the result
of differences in muscle exertion. The former exercises
require continuous and repeated exertion, but the latter
requires maximal explosive exertion. Westcott et al. [28]
reported that slow repetitions of low intensity (about
50% 1RM) may result in greater strength outcomes than
faster repetitions. Tanimoto and Ishii [15] reported that
slow movements (3-4 sec in concentric and eccentric co-
ntractions with low intensity less than 50% 1RM) resul-
ted in the same improvements in muscle hypertrophy and
muscle strength as high intensity exercise (80% 1RM).
However, the improvement of maximal strength and leg
power observed with slow movement resistance training
may be lower than that in previous studies. The effect of
exercise intensity on leg muscle groups should be reex-
amined in the future.
Cholesterol and triglyceride levels improved significa-
ntly after the exercise period. Thus, the present exercise
protocol will contribute to the prevention of life-related
disease such as arteriosclerosis. In particular, subjects
who were initially diagnosed with metabolic syndrome
(1 subject) and its reserve (8 subjects) no longer met the
diagnostic criteria at 12 weeks. In addition, in spite of
lack of a statistical change in blood pressure, all cases of
hypertension (systolic BP > 130 mmHg or diastolic BP >
85 mmHg) decreased to normal levels after 12 weeks.
Previous studies have consistently reported that resis-
tance training significantly reduces (~ 3 mmHg, systolic
and diastolic) blood pressure [8]. Further studies may be
needed that focus on hypertensive populations.
The improvement in cholesterol and triglyceride lev-
S. Yamaji et al. / Health 2 (2010) 1156-1162
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
els appeared after 12 weeks, after the neuromuscular be-
nefits. Due to their close relationship with visceral fat
volumes, these levels, and body fat, may decrease with
further training.
All subjects realized an increase in subjective physical
fitness and a positive training effect. When a person with
inexperienced training begins continual exercise, drop-
out commonly appears at approximately three to 4 weeks
[29]. Fifteen subjects felt that this protocol was “easy-to-
follow” after 6 weeks, but this number decreased to ten
after 12 weeks. As the remaining respondents noted that
they were “bored” by the protocol, it may need to be
varied to prevent weariness.
Slow movement resistance training using the individu-
al’s body mass increased the concentration of growth ho-
rmone and testosterone after one exercise session. This
training also improved physical fitness and body circu-
mference when continued three times a week for 12 we-
eks. The exercise protocol may have high levels of com-
pliance as compared with the typical resistance protocol.
However, the training protocol should be reexamined to
increase back and lower limb muscle strength and pre-
vent boredom from lack of variation.
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