What do you think about “super slow” lifting protocols? I remember a book years ago saying it was the greatest thing ever. I even bought the book, just never tried it.
Is its worth looking into?
Virtually any method is worth looking into, because it shows a willingness to learn. The real question is “does this method have a high success rate in the general population”?
Having said that, I can tell you that I tried this almost 30 years ago and here are my thoughts. First, it’s some of the toughest training you’ll ever do – for 2 reasons.
Toughest Training You’ll Ever Do
Reason #1 is that it forces you to use lighter weights. In most cases, a lot lighter. Reason #2 is that it can be extremely painful due to LA accumulation, particularly on big movements like squats.
You’ll also learn real fast which part of the movement that occurs the most on – the concentric. Compared to the concentric, the lowering or eccentric will feel like a day at the beach.
Is there merit in it? Sure, but here’s the rub. This training can cause hypertrophy due to the extended time under tension it puts muscles under. So if you’re performing squats in super slow fashion and perform 5 reps per set, taking 5 seconds to raise the weight and 5 seconds to lower it, the TUT should take around 50 seconds.
That’s a lot longer than most people, who take perhaps 15-20 seconds to perform a 5 rep set – so of course you’ll grow. Here’s the thing though… if you perform 15-20 reps per set and use a typical rep cadence, you’ll get a minute or more of TUT too.
So there are other ways to skin this cat, and there are other negatives IMO. You’ll find yourself counting faster as the burning increases, and by deliberately slowing down the positive part of the movement, you are teaching yourself to be slow.
Slow is 2nd team, and speed kills. Fast athletes are generally better and more explosive athletes, and being able to generate maximal power at the drop of a hat is important IMO.
For those and the other reasons I mentioned, this method usually fails more often than not in the real world. The real take home insofar as rep speed is concerned is controlling the negative. Shooting for a 3 second negative and being explosive as possible with the positive is my preference.
In one study, simply using 3 second negatives tripled subject’s strength and led to 5x the muscle growth. That’s something we can all agree is a good thing, and my recommendation of 3 sec negatives and explosive positives gets you there.