What Is SuperSlow®?
SuperSlow is an exercise protocol whereby the weight is lifted in approximately 10 seconds and lowered in five seconds. It is the protocol that best fits The Definition of Exercise, and is the protocol of choice for research, rehabilitation, bodybuilding and all general exercise. It can be used with any kind of resistance equipment: free weights, Nautilus or other machines, or calisthenics (dry land) exercises.
[Please note: Most of the information in this section
is taken from SuperSlow: The Ultimate Exercise Protocol, 2nd Ed. by Ken
• Slow movement reduces force - the number one cause of
injury when exercising.
Definition of Exercise
If everyone in the US immediately stopped performing the
activities they pursued as "exercise" the collective health of the nation would
improve dramatically. "Exercise" causes thousands of injuries per year. The most
important guidelines an exercise instructor should follow are:
Thorough inroad is a term denoting the fundamental objective of an exercise: A particular exercise is performed to fatigue the target musculature as thoroughly and efficiently as possible. Inroad is the depth of momentary fatigue attained due to exercise. If a fresh muscle's maximum force output is 100 pounds, then 80 pounds after an exercise, the inroad is 20%. When considering the quality of an exercise, the following factors must be taken into consideration:
• Minimum quantity of work required to insure safety.
Thorough Inroad technique involves pushing a muscle to its maximum. When all movement stops, effort must continue. The muscle doesn't care if the weight has stopped moving, it only knows it is being being asked to contract. Regardless of whether the weight is moving or not, the muscle is performing work. If this attitude is maintained during the last few repetitions of an exercise, they can often take 30 seconds or more to finish. When all perceptible movement stops, effort must continue for a minimum of ten seconds. Keep in mind this effort is always in the form of controlled, even pressure. Intensity at the cost of safety (by heaving, jerking etc.) is not desirable.
Many people have commented that such effort is dangerous. Realize that during the last few repetitions of an exercise, the target musculature is so weak there is virtually no danger of exceeding the tensile limit of the structures involved. Using Super Slow protocol minimizes the dangers of force and acceleration, allowing safe workouts at this level of intensity.
The effectiveness of an exercise is directly proportional to
the amount of inroad.
It is a misconception that excessive weight causes injury
during exercise. Many well-meaning physicians recommend reduced weight for
patients without realizing the real danger; force. Many injuries sustained
through activities pursued as exercise were caused when little or no additional
weight was involved - the acceleration of the subjects own limbs often causes
the injury (for example: the impact on a jogger's knees, tennis elbow, a
baseball pitcher's shoulder, a lower back injury sustained while picking up a
golf ball, even weight-training injuries sustained with "light weight, low reps"
often cause injury). The key to minimizing injury is minimizing force. Force
equals mass times acceleration. In physics, this is known as the acceleration
The efficiency of SuperSlow can be compromised when using
high-friction equipment. While it is possible to get excellent results from
these machines, better results can be obtained by using a low-friction
alternative. On these machines, it is often necessary to move slightly faster
than the ideal 10/5 to avoid sticking and bogging-down.
Muscular growth occurs through a mechanism that is still poorly understood. It is known; however, that growth in a healthy subject is a response to high-intensity exercise.
For many years, the "total tonnage theory" was popular - and still is in many weight-lifting circles. The idea is: the more work you perform (i.e. the more weight you manage to lift over a given amount of time - whether it involves long, multiple sets, or exotic split routines) the better your results. This has lead to the four-day-a-week, two hours in the gym approach many bodybuilders take. Unfortunately for them, the only time all that work was helping was when it was done in a high intensity fashion - usually the last few repetitions in the last set. Everything else was superfluous at best and harmful to their progress at worst.
High-intensity is the stimulus that provides the body's
response of growing larger and stronger and the two appear to be directly
proportional - the greater the intensity, the greater the effective growth
stimuli. Intensity is indirectly proportional to the amount of work. Excess work
uses up recovery resources that would otherwise contribute to growth. Intensity
can be looked at like this:
To summarize: Deep muscular stimulation is enhanced when
exercises are performed to failure with a minimum of rest between them. Also,
with high-intensity, less total work is performed from which the body must
recover. Excellent results can be obtained from brief, infrequent, intense
It is a common misconception that there are such general skills as agility, speed, grace etc.; and many activities practiced by athletes are performed with the intention of improving one of these general skills.
This is mostly a waste of time.
The scientific discipline of Motor Learning demonstrates that skills are highly specific. For example, while the skills of swinging a tennis racquet and swinging a racquetball racquet appear similar, they are each actually very specific skills. An individual could be great at one and completely inept at the other.
The idea that specific skills can be improved by mimicking their performance with weight has been a common practice for years. For example: a baseball player who swings several bats before his swing assuming that the heavier load will make the lighter swing more powerful. A far-worse, but no less common example would be the sprinter who performs the leg press exercise explosively, assuming that he/she can build "explosive power" to improve his/her starts. This practice is common and, more often than not, dangerous.
Any activity that mimics a specific skill with weight will most often cause what is called negative transfer - performance of the activity will actually degrade as the subjects skill sets become confused.
Skills should be performed as closely as possible to the
actual event. When practicing for an activity, it should be performed to improve
the skill, not to enhance any secondary (and probably minor) exercise effect.
Exercise should be performed according to muscle and joint function, never
according to the motions of a specific activity.
The trainable factors break down into:
This word is used a lot in the fitness industry. It is a marketing ploy. When an individual desired to "tone-up", most physical trainers will put them on a program of reduced weights and aerobics. This wastes the client's time and robs them of results that could be obtained faster and safer using Super Slow protocol.
There is no such thing as "Toning". Toning is a marketing derivative of the word Tonus, a proper biological term describing the residual tension in a skeletal muscle when it is at rest. Flaccid is a lack of tonus. To truly "tone-up" requires two things.
• Stronger and larger muscles
Regarding the first requirement:
• If a muscle is stronger it is larger
The best way to build larger, stronger muscles is through
Super Slow exercise.
There is a misguided emphasis on aerobics and its role in fat loss. Indeed, exercise in general is only about 10% of a fat-loss program. The other 90% is all diet. Fat is gained when an individual consumes more calories in a given time period than his/her body needs to sustain itself. Fat is lost when fewer calories are consumed than are needed by the body. To lose fat, the total calories consumed must be lower than what is required by the body.
While exercise is only 10% of a fat-loss program, the kind of exercise performed is essential. There is a common misconception that exercise burns a significant number of calories. It does not. A single pound of human fat stores approximately 3500 calories. That's enough to sustain a grown man on a 50 mile run. An hour of aerobic activity may burn around 300 calories. Performed three-times-a-week, it would take several months to lose even a small amount of fat (more often than that and the body will have a difficult time recovering, resulting in fatigue, soreness and , very likely, injury). Often, the weight lost through this type of program is indiscriminate - it comes uniformly from tissues throughout the body - fat, muscle, bone, water and organ tissue. The exercise performed must guarantee that the weight lost through a caloric-deficit diet comes from fat, and not vital muscle, bone and organ tissue. This is best accomplished by stimulating the muscles with high-intensity exercise to promote the natural growth mechanism.
Super Slow exercise builds muscle. The calories burned during the exercise are insignificant compared to the additional amount burned due to added muscle. A single pound of muscle will increase the metabolic rate of the body by 50-100 calories a day. So, five pounds of additional muscle will use an additional 1/2 to one pound of fat a week - even without the caloric-deficit diet.
In short, the ideal fat-loss plan involves a balanced,
caloric-deficit diet combined with regular Super Slow workouts.
• Use Super Slow protocol (10 seconds to lift the weight, 5
to 10 seconds to lower it)
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