Super Slow Workout

Super Slow workout is a form of strength training popularized by Ken Hutchins. It involves the combination of very slow speeds of lifting and lowering the weight, along with the general principles of the High intensity training approach advocated by Arthur Jones.

The 10 second lifting, 10 second lowering repetition speed was originally suggested by Dr. Vince Bocchicchio to Ken Hutchins, who further developed the protocol during Nautilus-funded osteoporosis research at the University of Florida in the early 80’s. However, the method has been used in body building circles since the 1940s under the name MC/MM or muscle contraction with measured movement.

The method incorporates very slow repetition speeds as compared to traditional resistance training methods, with emphasis on minimizing acceleration to reduce the force the body is exposed to during exercise and improve muscular loading. Super Slow workouts typically consist of one set of anywhere from as few as two to eight exercises, often primarily compound movements, performed with little rest in between. Ken Hutchins recommends performing each set for between 100 and 180 seconds. A frequency of twice weekly is recommended for most trainees, with even less frequency for more advanced trainees. One drawback to the Super Slow method is that scientific research clearly indicates that for a set of an exercise to produce gains in muscle mass and strength, 30-90 seconds is optimal. Sets that last longer than 90 seconds fail to produce superior gains in muscle size or strength and may not allow for any gains to occur at all.

Proponents claim the very slow repetitions are safer and more effective than conventional repetition speeds, however force gauge studies and mathematical models have shown no significant difference in peak force or resistance encountered over the full range of movement between traditional Nautilus 2/4 repetitions, moderately slow 5/5 repetitions, and the Super Slow 10/10 repetitions.

The only two studies showing better results with Super Slow than traditional Nautilus training are flawed in a manner invalidating the results (rep speed was not strictly controlled for in any of the groups and strength testing procedures failed to account for differences in fatigue rates at different rep speeds).Other research shows no significant difference in outcomes with different repetition speeds when similar training loads and set durations are used.

However, in all of the studies where slow repetitions failed to show better gains, a much lighter weight load than the standard rep speed groups were used, which invalidates these studies. In one study the slow repetition group was given only 40% of their 1 repetition maximum while the standard rep speed group used 80%.Although claims of superior results are not supported by a large body of research, several peer reviewed and published studies conducted by Dr. Wayne Westcott have shown slow repetitions to be superior to standard repetition speeds.

Additionally, slower repetitions do allow for greater actin/myosin filament bonds to be formed (Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology textbook 5th addition) thus enhancing the overall stimulation to the working muscle. Slow repetitions may be beneficial to trainees working around injuries or conditions requiring extra caution, and may be useful for practicing proper form when learning new exercises. Many personal trainers who have abandoned Super Slow for general use still use it as a method for teaching new exercises or evaluating clients’ exercise form.

Similar methods include Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn system and Adam Zickerman’s Power of 10 method. However, Hahn’s Slow Burn method does not subscribe to the 10/10 rep count, and uses of a weight load that renders muscle fatigue in 60-90 seconds.