Fitness Fraud Alert
The Mythological Benefits of Superslow Training
I normally don't address the merits of exercise fads. There are so many new ones being pedalled in the market place each week that if I attempted to address them all that is all I would have time to do. But, I decided to make an exception in this case. The fact of the matter is I couldn't resist. As a fitness professional I realize that there is something very seductive about an exercise program that makes claims to get people into great shape in as little as thirty minutes a week. Some of the folks who sell super slow training even claim that since you will receive optimal results by doing one set of an exercise per muscle group each week, you won't work up a sweat while exercising. Therefore it isn't even necessary to change into exercise clothes to do the super slow routine. What could be more perfect for the busy executive?
If you have not heard of super slow training yet I am sure you will soon, as more superslow training centers open up around the country. For those of you who don't know what superslow training is, the adherents to the superslow philosophy of training would like you to believe that if you exercise your muscles utilizing an exaggeratedly slow movement both in the positive; or concentric phase of the exercise and the negative; or eccentric phase of the exercise you will realize superior benefits in both building lean muscle tissue and reducing bodyfat than if you exercised using a more conventional movement cadence to complete each repetition. The exercise principle that the super slow philosophy is based upon is the principle that states that increasing the time a muscle is under load will stimulate that muscle to develop more quickly. The problem is that the super slow training protocol ignores other equally important factors that encourage muscular development. The amount of load, or resistance that is used in performing any exercise is at least as important as the speed at which the exercise is performed in stimulating muscular development. Unfortunately, when one adopts the super slow training style there is a corresponding reduction in the amount of resistance that can be used in performing the exercise. While any exercise using resistance will convey some benefit in the reduction of bodyfat to the exerciser, all things being equal an exercise routine that requires the exerciser to move through the concentric and eccentric phases of an exercise at a faster pace will help the individual to reduce bodyfat more rapidly. The marketing for many of the super slow training facilities I have seen also claim that they utilize equipment with special properties that is only available at their training facilities.
Sorry, to give you the bad news but super slow training is not a viable way to train if your goal is to get a lean, muscular and functionally fit body. What the proprietors of the super slow method are counting on is your lack of knowledge about exercise science and exercise equipment. The equipment that these centers use are most often a group of selectorized exercise machines that attempt to work the different body parts in isolation from each other. Most of the equipment functions no differently than the equipment you will find in any commercial fitness center. A smaller number of the super slow centers use equipment in their facilities designed specifically for phsical therapy, or rehabilitation. More on this later. Without going into a lot of complicated terminology super slow training is an inferior way for most people to train for many reasons, but most important are the two ways in which it does not enhance functional fitness. One; When we train our muscles we also train our entire neuromuscular system. If we never train our muscles to fire quickly, and synergisticaly with the other muscles of our body then it becomes very hard to get our bodies to recruit the muscles we need to run away from a dog, or fight off a mugger, or to jump out of the way of an oncoming car should we find ourselves facing these kind of emergencies. Two; the exercises at super slow training centers are invariably performed on machines that provide a supported sitting or lying position. Most of us don't need help in preparing our bodies to be able to stay seated, or to lie down. For the most part we've got that covered. The minor physical challenges that most people face in their lives relate to climbing stairs, carrying groceries, doing yard work, etc. All of these activities require you to support your own bodyweight, and stand and kneel sometimes carrying loads. If you are walking down the street and you slip on a patch of ice you will need to fire muscles in your legs, abdomen, lower back even your toes simultaneously to quickly stabilize your body and keep yourself from falling. Super slow training can't help you to prepare your body to work as a unit. This is why training for functional fitness is so important, and should be your priority. Does a super slow exercise program have legitimate applications? Sure. The super slow method of training is most appropriate when utilized to train persons recovering from injuries who need to be fully stabilized while strengthening a muscle, or a group of muscles.Oh yeah, super slow training also isn't bad training methodology to use if you are intending on becoming a statue.