Varying your weight training can lead to greater benefits as well as preventing boredom. You can change your volume of training by adjusting the sets and repetitions, change the load by lifting heavier or lighter weight, or change the exercises you perform. You can also manipulate the speed at which you perform your weightlifting. Proponents of super slow-motion weight training claim it is safer and more effective than other methods -- but this may not be true.
Super Slow-Motion Weight Training
When you perform resistance training exercises your muscles shorten, or concentrically contract, and lengthen, or eccentrically contract. You control the pace, and most people choose a moderate, steady pace or about one to two seconds up and down. In a super slow-motion workout you lift the weight up for about 10 seconds and take 10 seconds to lower it. Only one set is usually performed with a varying repetition range, and the weight is kept challenging.
Training super slow can improve your overall strength due to higher muscle fiber recruitment and tension generated, according to Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. When you slow down the smallest filaments in your muscles, actin and myosin, form more cross-bridges during concentric and eccentric contraction. These cross-bridges are the fibers sliding along each other to shorten or lengthen a muscle. The more cross-bridges per unit of time means greater tension created.
Local Muscular Endurance
To improve muscular endurance you would normally perform an exercise for two to three sets of 12 or more repetitions. In super slow-motion training you use only one set, but that set can take up to three minutes depending on how many repetitions you perform. The longer you train the more you begin to see changes in local muscular endurance, in that the muscle gets better at doing the exercise for a longer period of time without fatigue. However, this does not translate to cardiovascular endurance, because the super slow method does not raise your heart rate enough to cause adaptation.
Super slow-motion training can be challenging because of the tension created in the muscles. Some people may find the challenge inspiring while others may be bored by the pace of the exercise. Incorporating super slow training occasionally is a variation to your training and can cause muscular adaptation. If you are an athlete, super slow-motion training may not be appropriate. Most sports require speed, power and strength -- and the gains in super slow training do not appear to translate on the field.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength; James Stoppani
- The Strength Training Anatomy Workout II, Volume 2; Frédéric Delavier and Michael Gundill
- University of New Mexico: Super Slow Resistance Training