By Martin Ebner
I recently returned from a month-long trip to Spain. Whilst there i spent a good portion of my time trawling around the gyms and chatting with the locals about current health and fitness trends. The one that seemed most popular and that frequented most in conversation was “the super slow rep”.
What is a super slow rep?
A super slow repetition is performed at a speed of 15-20 seconds. The positive phase (lifting) takes around 10 seconds, the negative phase (lowering) around 5 seconds. Pausing at the bottom for 2 seconds and repeating.
Lifting at such a slow tempo requires that you drop the weight to around 25% of you 1RM (1 rep max). Example: If your current 1RM squat is 100kg, divide it by 4 and that's the load you would use to perform 10 super slow reps.
The idea is to perform just 1 grueling set of 10 repetitions of each exercise as appose to the standard 3-4 sets.
The BOLD claim: It produces longer periods of muscle under tension which is turn produces bigger and stronger muscles with a fat loss kicker.
Now, This technique is not new in weight-training but one that does seem to be renewing itself as a HOT trend in the weightlifting world. In Spain at least! It looked almost as though the gym was in slow motion. Unfortunately, science does not back it's claims to be more beneficial than weight-training at a slow, medium or even fast tempo. It's merely speculation.
A slow rep is stricter and more difficult to perform because it uses less momentum.
Good for beginners to learn perfect form.
Fewer related injuries.
Not very useful for intermediate or advanced athletes.
Terrible for agility and speed.
It's really painful!!
Requires a lot of concentration.
Time consuming. One set of 10 reps can take up to 3 minutes.
Normally I'm very open to experimenting and incorporating new training methods into my workout routines. For this however, I simply don't have the time or the pain threshold to give it a shot.
Repetition tempo should be varied and experimented with but going to the extreme of a super slow rep seems like a waste of time. Unless you're exceptionally focused and couldn't care less about your sports performance, i'd give it a wide berth.
Instead, stick to medium tempo repetitions for better all-round results. 1-0-2-1 or 2-1-3-0 (lifting-pause-lower-pause) are my preferences!