SuperSlow

01Apr09

One of the ancient Thai classics instructs warriors to display [i.e., practice] their martial skills so “that one may enjoy the sight.”
—Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith. 1969. Asian Fighting Arts. Tokyo: Kodansha International LTD.

I read about SuperSlow and the method seemed reasonable. Not very practical for many sports, but great for people who just want to gain sheer strength or muscle mass. Then I have seen the video . . .

The King of Siam might say, “Very scientific,” but looking at it is no pleasure. And that’s on top of the exercises being done indoors and on complicated machines. Yes, it cannot be good if watching it makes little children cry.

***

More about SuperSlow method at http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2009/03/get-stronger-then-apply-it.html

with my comment at
http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2009/03/get-stronger-then-apply-it.html?showComment=1238627760000#c4135892614394950440

Request for help:

One of our authors and my friend, Piotr Drabik, has disappeared in September of 2006 after he landed on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii, where he was seen on airport security cameras. He arrived there from Edmonton, Alberta (Canada), through Salt Lake City, Utah, and Honolulu, Hawaii. We (his friends at Stadion Publishing) were assisting in the investigation of his disappearance. The investigation was ineffective and eventually the case was dropped by all involved authorities.

If you have seen him on or after September of 2006, or know anything about his whereabouts, please e-mail us at infoATstadionDOTcom.

More about Piotr Drabik and his disappearance is at http://www.stadion.com/author_drabikp.html

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11 Responses to “SuperSlow”

  1. 1 Charles

    Yes this is Doug MrGruff who wrote a pretty good book, “Body by Science.” At least he doesn’t just live in theory, but actually practices what he preaches!

    But I agree about the complicated machines. I have my kettlebells outside under a porch roof, and even during the winter (which is relatively mild here–40s mainly), I much more enjoyed working out in the fresh air, with simple implements. It’s hard to get back into the high tech stuff at the gym after that, or even to go inside…

    “Yes, it cannot be good if watching it makes little children cry.” –Good one, Tom.

  2. 2 Charles

    Here’s a better workout regimen and environment:

  3. SuperSlow is definitely no fun to watch, or to do. It is brutally hard, and just as effective.

    As for sports, the speed of movement during exercise makes no difference to sport performance – strength training and skill conditioning are separate things. If you increase your strength it will translate to more speed in other activities, regardless of the speed the strength was gained at.

    For example, if your one rep maximum in an exercise is 100 pounds, you won’t be able to lift it very quickly. However, if you increase your one rep maximum in that exercise to 150, you will be able to lift the 100 pounds more quickly. It won’t matter if you get stronger using slow reps or fast reps, if you’re stronger your muscles will be capable of producing more force and accelerating more quickly during any movement.

  4. If things were only that simple . . . .

    A few quotes from Science of Sports Training.

    Science of Sports Training p. 171:
    Another misconception is that “skill training and conditioning are specific to a sport, but strength training is general . . .” (Brzycki 1994). There is too much research that contradicts this to list all of it here. Here is one example of a sport-specific strength exercise: Six weeks of practicing volleyball spikes with a 1-lb. weighted glove increased the velocity of the players’ spike. . .

    Science of Sports Training p. 152:
    If strength training is done using only simple bodybuilding-type exercises with weights and isometrics, that have nothing to do with the internal and external structure of movement in the techniques, then the sport-specific coordination and learning of techniques is going to be impaired (Naglak 1979). There are known cases of well-trained athletes losing overall coordination and having difficulty learning new skills (secondary movement illiteracy) as a result of undiversified strength training (Wazny 1981b).

    Science of Sports Training p. 142:
    People of similar maximal static strength can have very different speed strength, explosive strength, and reactive strength. Starting strength and explosive strength are not closely correlated either, but both can be increased independently with specific strength exercises.
    (All those types of strength are described, with references, in subchapter Concepts and Types of Strength. How to convert maximal strength into explosive strength, for example, jumping ability, are on pages 155-161)

    Science of Sports Training p. 145:
    There is little transfer of strength acquired in one type of movement to other types of movements, even if these movements involve the same muscles. This specificity of training applies to the posture in which one exercises (Wilson et al. 1996), to the angle or muscle length (Bloomfield, Ackland, and Elliott 1994), the velocity, and the pattern of movement (McArdle, Katch, and Katch 1991). Strength in a given movement depends not only on the muscle’s cross-section and ratio of fiber types, but also on neural factors such as the recruitment and synchronization of firing of the appropriate motor units (McArdle, Katch, and Katch 1991). Only in the case of beginners can one type of exercise cause considerable improvements in all forms of strength (Naglak 1979). Increasing static strength does not always cause an increase of dynamic strength (Wazny 1992b). Actually, only beginners improve the fast forms of dynamic strength with isometric exercises (Bondarchuk et al. 1984).

    Science of Sports Training p. 153:
    In strength exercises designed to develop the speed of movements, the amount of resistance should be such as to let an athlete move with speed similar to the speed in competitive actions. The greater the amount of resistance an athlete overcomes in competitive actions, the greater the resistance used in speed exercises–for example, weightlifters use weights of 70–80% of their maximum.

    While strength of a muscle depends on its cross-section, there is no such simple relationship between its contraction speed (and thus speed of movement) and its cross-section. Proper coordination of the involved motor units is needed for developing maximal speed of movement.

    Extensive explanations, with references, are in the book Science of Sports Training.

  5. Interesting. Most of the books I’ve read and presentations I’ve attended on motor learning as well as my experience training myself and other martial artists has been different, however. I’ll check out your book though, as I’m always interested in other people’s takes on training.

  6. 6 Julian

    Why do this? Perhaps we have or will evolve to adapt to machine training? or (!) ?
    Slow *resisted* movement in life is typical in certain industries, usually involving a threaded instrument with a seal (that would would provide most of the slow long range resistive movement) such as getting a human to screw a heavily resisted bolt on those large rims on those massive earthmovers (if you get my picture) not in any sport I can think of though. There are certain machines I do like though such as ellipticals, pulleys and resistance tubes (not really a machine) but that would be the extent of it.

    I would perfer to evolve to a more practical purpose, and we still can’t change the fact we are human. For example I’ve taken up some ballet like movements, using the same theories of Toms books mind you.

    It all depends on what you want to achieve, but complications (more machines, more diets, etc etc) just adds to muddy waters. So not only are peoples cups full, now they are muddy.

    I guess its the times we live in.

    Keep up the good work Tom.
    Jules.

    Wait this training might benefit astronauts visiting planet surfaces with high gravitational fields?
    just a thought.

  7. Leaving aside the pros and cons of slow speed training…the first thing that jumps out at me is why do you need a fancy machine to do that. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just execute free standing squats and press at that speed…at least you get some proprioception factored in there.

    On a side note, I have heard some claims that slow speed (lengthened time under tension) training will stimulate strengthening of the tendons. (The Russian Systema guys are real big on this.) While it doesn’t seem unreasonable, I was having a bit of difficulty finding some hard science about that. Do you have any comments Tom? I checked your book (Science of Sports Training) but couldn’t seem to locate anything…perhaps I missed it?

    Travis

  8. Travis,

    From what I know any healthy resistance training strengthens tendons. If one wants to specially emphasize strengthening tendons, the most time- and effort-efficient method is to perform resistance exercise with a slow eccentric phase. For example, a weight is lifted at a normal velocity and then lowered much slower. More on this subject is in the Spring 2008 issue of Stadion News at http://www.stadion.com/freebies.html .

  9. Thank you Tom,

    I appreciate you answering that for me…I will also have a look at the link.

  10. Re: Drew Baye on April 2, 2009

    “Interesting. Most of the books I’ve read and presentations I’ve attended on motor learning as well as my experience training myself and other martial artists has been different, however. I’ll check out your book though, as I’m always interested in other people’s takes on training.”

    Ask yourself what was your trainees experience with strength training (resistance training). How effective was it prior to working with you? Were their results in sport-specific tests growing in proportion to increased strength training loads, or were they disproportionally low? Was their strength training anything other than bodybuilding-type lifts (bench press, 90 degree squat, slow deadlift, and of course a lot of arm and delt isolation work)?

    Considering strength training, could they be classified as experienced athletes with a wide repertoire of resistance exercises, from standard Olympic weightlifting lifts to those sport-specific for, in your example, martial arts?

    Science of Sports Training p. 45:
    “Initially general exercises (in strength or endurance, for example), done concurrently with technical training, improve the level of technical skill. They then cease to be effective, and for more improvement, directed exercises that are more closely related to the techniques must be introduced. After some time even these exercises lose their effect on the technical proficiency of the athlete and even more specialized exercises are needed for further progress. If continued throughout the athletic career, general exercises (for example, in strength, endurance, coordination) will promote gains in the abilities they are designed to develop, but only if measured by general tests. In other words, performing general exercises will increase proficiency mostly in performing these general exercises. If the athlete gains mass and strength from performing general strength exercises, but the neuromuscular patterns of these exercises do not resemble those of the competitive technique, the strength gain in sport-specific technical tests or in competition will be disproportionately low compared to the amount of general strength gain. The same is true for other physical abilities such as endurance or speed.”

    The above is just a short excerpt from a chapter on the place of each group of exercises (general, directed, sport-specific, competitive) in an athlete’s training. It does not mean that general exercises, such as simple lifts, have no place in an advanced athlete’s training.

    In all fairness, I heard of isolated cases of experienced athletes, in their 20s, who seemed to have exhausted their potential and then improved when forced to learn many exercises from other sports. These athletes were lacking wide general exercise base due to a too early and a too narrow specialization. The exercises from other sports, being general, i.e., not sport-specific for these athletes, were those they should have learned at earlier stages of their training.


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