It seems every year another fitness “guru” releases a book or video claiming superslow training is the best thing since the invention of the dumbbell. For those of you who’ve never heard of superslow training, it’s basically a form of resistance exercise where each repetition takes about fifteen seconds to complete. According to superslow proponents, the biggest attribute of the technique is that it reduces momentum during training, thereby increasing force to the target muscle. In addition, by reducing momentum, the potential for injury is supposedly decreased. Sounds logical, right? Well, not exactly…
The effects of momentum on training are wildly overstated. Provided that weights are lifted in a controlled fashion, the target muscles are performing the majority of work. Momentum is a non-factor. What’s more, assuming proper technique is utilized, simply slowing down the speed of repetitions will have no effect on reducing injuries. In fact, the injury rate for those who train with proper form in a traditional protocol is almost non-existent. Thus, the science behind the superslow claims simply doesn’t add up.
All things considered, superslow training is suboptimal for achieving maximal muscular development. Here’s why:
First, the weights used during superslow training must be extremely light to compensate for the slow speed of the lift. While this allows the concentric (i.e. positive) portion of the rep to be executed in the desired fashion, it takes away most of the muscular stress on the eccentric (i.e. negative) portion (muscles can handle significantly more weight on eccentric actions than on concentric actions). And since the eccentric component is perhaps the most important aspect in promoting muscular development, results from superslow simply can’t compare to performing reps at a traditional cadence.
What’s more, superslow training is extremely tedious. The excruciatingly slow tempo causes most people to become bored with the routine in a relatively short period of time. This ultimately reduces exercise adherence – and if you don’t train, you won’t get results!
Bottom line: If you’re looking to optimize muscle development, the best advice with respect to rep speed is to follow the ABCs of lifting: always be in control. As long as you lift weights in a controlled fashion, the effects of momentum are negligible. This is not to say that superslow has no place in a routine. It can serve as a good “change of pace” and, when used occasionally, might help to overcome a training plateau. But for the majority of your workouts, a traditional lifting regimen is the way to go.
TAGS: Superslow, speed of repetitions, rep speed, repetition speed, lifting speed, superslow exercise, eccentric repetitions, lifting momentum