My client's husband does super slow training 2x a week for 25 minutes a session. I am not sure how many sets or repetitions he is performing. The tempo is 10 seconds concentric and 10 seconds eccentric. What are your thoughts on this type of super slow training?
Super slow training is an interesting area of the physical training. The first time I was introduced to it was in the mid 1970’s. Nautilus training principles followed the slow contraction methodology. Elliot Darden is one of the guys who helped promote that type of training. Their philosophy, as is the super slow method, is one set to some “type” of muscle failure. A person would go from machine to machine, as is promoted now, and do their thing. The single set would last about 10 reps.
This type of training does not get much positive attention with the strength & conditioning professionals. There are several reasons for this lack of attention. The first is that it simply has very little practical use for athletic type movements. Most people that want to improve movement power and reaction type skills use lifts with high dynamic purpose. These exercises are multi- joint, compound lifts that require high output, like Olympic lifts and plyometrics.
The second reason for not participating in super slow training is it might make you super slow. Part of the adaptations to power development is increasing the ability to fire the motor units rapidly and decrease the inhibitory mechanism that slows us down. This is the running battle between agonists vs. antagonistic muscle groups. Super slow training essentially trains you to slow down and “fight it out” with motion. Because a sub- optimal resistance level is used and you are developing resistance by “holding” the weight a co- activation of the agonists and antagonists may be taking place. I could not find much research in the super slow training method.
The last thing to think about, in regards to super slow training is the blood pressure reaction. Again, no research in the super slow area, but if we extrapolate other research information on blood pressure changes and training we can see some potential problems. Most people instinctively hold their breaths when lifting or stressing out. This helps our torso get “stiff” so we can apply force. However, when we hold our breath our blood pressures start to climb; the longer the stress, the greater the rise in blood pressure. I am uncertain what the duration of the set is during a super slow exercise, but it is probably longer than a “normal” exercise set.
I do not want to “poo- poo” anyone’s training method. Your client’s husband ‘is’ training and that is good. And, if he enjoys the training then that is great. However, you may want to explore the reasons for this type of training and explain the benefits of other types of exercise just for overall wellness. Good Luck, Steve