Have you reached a plateau in your heavy training?
It may be time to temporarily move away from the heavy, low rep training and shock your system, and super slow training may be the most effective approach.
Start by reducing your weights by 30, 40 or even 50 percent. It won’t be psychologically easy, but you need to drop way back on the poundage so that your focus will be on pumping lighter weights, and moving more blood into your muscle tissues.
You’ll perform each repetition slowly, SUPER slowly, with precise and controlled movements.
You will feel the muscle as it swells from the increased blood flow as this slow motion training will recruit more muscle fibers which have been previously neglected in your heavy, low rep training.
As a training approach, superslow training dates back to the late 1970’s and involves slow motion movement of both the concentric (contracting and lifting) and eccentric (extending and lowering) phases of each exercise.
This slow movement is often performed in a 2:1 ratio, as an example, ten seconds to lift the barbell for a curl and five seconds to lower the barbell.
Those who support superslow training believe that five to ten repetitions performed in this manner are all that are necessary to stimulate maximum growth.
Super slow training is intended for intermediate to advanced trainees who have an existing muscular foundation to which high volumes of blood can be pumped to stimulate new growth.
How Superslow Training Works
Slow movements recruit more slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are normally not used during standard, faster weight lifting, which recruits and trains more fast-twitch muscle fibers.
You will NOT be able to use the weights you would normally use, and may have to drop down as much 50 percent to finish five to ten 15 second repetitions. Once you complete your superslow phase of training and return to “normal” training you will have new muscle fibers able to move more weight.
Powerlifters have been successful in adding strength gains following superslow training and bodybuilders often report size and mass gains, particularly in upper body mass.
Zero Momentum + Constant Tension
Superslow training places tension on muscle fibers throughout the entire movement, both concentric and eccentric phases. The slow motion movement also removes ALL momentum from any exercise performed in this manner.
With no momentum, only muscle fibers move the weights, and without swinging heavy weights, there is less stress on ligaments, tendons and joints.
The Nautilus Training Center conducted an osteoporosis study in 1982 in which a group of elderly women suffering from weak bones and decreased bone density trained with light weights in slow motion. The group experienced dramatic strength gains and improved bone density.
Two studies conducted by the YMCA in the 1990’s compared equal groups of 75 subjects. One group did 10 2-second repetitions of 12 exercises while the superslow group performed the same exercises but in 10 second contractions with 4 second extensions. The superslow rep groups experienced 50 percent greater gains in strength. Similar studies conducted at Virginia Tech produced similar results.
A Short Term Approach
Superslow training is not effective over a long period of time. Although lighter weights are used, the constant tension is intense and the training approach is mentally and physically taxing. This approach should be used to overcome plateaus and to promote new size and strength gains and reach new levels when you return to heavy weights and moderate speed repetitions.
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