Super Slow resistance training has been around since the 1940s when Body Builders used it as part of their training techniques. It was popularized by Ken Hutchins who developed it to where he considered it the only way to do resistance training. Since then there has been much debate about whether it was a better way to develop strength and muscle. But how do I see it?
I certainly have used it as part of my personal training and with my clients after they have built enough basic condition to cope with it. But firstly exactly what is it and how does it work?
Usually with resistance exercises you work at different speeds depending upon what part of your condition you desire to develop. The usual speed of strength exercises is 2 seconds on the lowering part of the movement and 2 seconds on the positive part. With Super Slow you take 10 seconds to complete the negative and 10 seconds for the positive parts of the movement. With conventional resistance exercises you complete 3 -5 sets of anywhere between 6 – 12 repetitions using 5 – 10 exercises over a 30 – 40 minute period. With Super Slow training you may do the same number of exercises but do only 1 set for each exercise of as few as 4/5 repetitions or 10 repetitions or up to failure… but you only use light resistances. You also use Continuous Tension with every repetition you do, so you don’t fully extend to complete each movement.
Of course each set in a Super Slow workout will take up to 3 minutes to complete and the whole program will take you up to 30 minutes to complete if you do 10 exercises with very little or no rest between exercises. This type of workout is very intense, but so can any program if you increase the intensity by manipulating the combination of resistances you use, the type of exercise you use (therefore the speed of movement) and the rest intervals between sets of exercises. But the Super Slow routine increases the intensity of the routine in less overall time that the normal resistance routine does. It has been said that this type of routine causes less injuries than conventional resistance programs, but this has not been proven. (Injuries occur in resistance training if people demonstrate poor technique or overextend themselves!)
Personally I find it best to use Super Slow in rehab programs. (Tai Chi if done properly it also has a Super Slow element to it.) But I suggest that a Super Slow routine should only be done by experienced resistance trainers and only for a short period of time (no longer than the normal segment of training of 6 weeks) before you change back to your normal routine.
The best way to do a Super Slow routine is on Weight Training Machines as it takes less time to set your next exercise up and it is easier to keep a continuous tension on through each set and safer than using conventional resistance training equipment.So if you don’t have the use of all the various machines you need you can’t do the routine properly. Of course you can use conventional resistance training equipment, but you would have to well organized and have sufficient so that you can go through the routine with enough intensity.