Blast Your Muscles Into Better Shape!

By Raymond Onyango.

Shawshank Redemption

“The world went and got itself in such a big damn hurry”, so says Brooks Hatlen, in the closing scenes of The Shawshank Redemption; one of my favorite movies of all time. The Shawshank Redemption is a story of perseverance, purpose and determination. Patience is of course  a value that comes in short supply in the world today. Like  spoiled children, we want things and we want them right now!

"6 weeks To A Beach Body!"

This need for speed permeates our consumer culture to its very core, and we in the Fitness Industry are right at the center of it. Browse the covers of many Top Flight Health & Fitness Magazines and you will be confronted with titles screaming, “Get Ripped In Six-Weeks”, “6 weeks To Your Best Beach Body” or “ See Results In 10 Days”. This is exactly the kind of mass media reinforced mythological perception that sets many of us up for failure right from the beginning. It is also the reason why I would like to introduce you to a rather unlikely concept in this digital age – Super Slow Training, and the bounty of progress it can open up in your path to better health and fitness.

Super Slow training, as the name suggests, involves slowing down the pace of your Strength Training Movements, literally to a crawl. There are several benefits to moving slower including ironically, faster results and greater overall muscle tone. Lets us take a closer look at why this is so.

Eliminate Momentum

Eliminate Momentum!

I was first introduced to the concept of Super Slow Training When I attended my first Pilates Class about eight or so years ago. The class instructor, Lisa Campbell, made us do a set of regular Push Ups on our knees, but the catch was that each Push Up was slowed down to a staggering eight seconds. At that slow speed many factors change, the most significant of them being the lack of momentum. Without momentum just your body weight alone feels like a ton of bricks, and that is just the beginning.

Less Speed, More Gain!

Eliminating momentum most importantly increases the level of neuromuscular integration. Neuromuscular Integration is simply the level of conversation that goes on between your nervous system and your muscles when they are subjected to workload. By slowing down your movements, you broaden this conversation by recruiting a much larger cross section of your muscle fibers, directly resulting in greater muscle definition as seen from the outside.

Of course Super slow training isn’t easy, and especially as you reach the point of momentary muscle failure, when you can no longer get the muscle to contract any more. At this point the lactic acid buildup can be excruciating enough to discourage the majority of us from keeping up with this method, but the intelligent and well-read exerciser knows that this is precisely the point at which the higher end motor units and muscle fibers are recruited and the greatest adaptation and therefore progress, takes place!

Prevent Injury

Many Women Shy Away From Weight Training!

Beyond producing better muscle definition and tone, Super slow training makes it possible to use very little weight, but still strongly challenge the muscles, This is important because the vast majority of women shy away from the lifting heavier weights, for fear of building muscle, but they can still use Super Slow training to tap into the benefits of Strength Training while simultaneously subduing their fears about developing unwelcome bulk.

Men Tend To Lift Too Much Weight!

On the other hand, far too many Men are fond of training with much more weight than they can comfortably handle. The combination of too much weight and high movement speeds, is in huge part responsible for the rapidly increasing rate of gym related injuries, whose prevalence constitutes a disturbing and fast growing trend within the fitness industry today. Torn Rotator Cuffs. Ruptured Cruciate Ligaments and Herniated Lumber Discs are all injuries that I see with disconcerting regularity in the course of my work. Many of them can be avoided through Super Slow Training, which by its very nature makes it virtually impossible for you to lift more weight than you can competently handle.

Quality Over Quantity

Quality Over Quantity Every Time!

To get the most out of your workouts, you must use proper form. How well you lift is far more important than both, how much weight you lift and how many repetitions you do. The primary objective of Super Slow training is to create more tension within the muscles while lifting the weight simply by slowing down the speed of movement. Physiologically this helps to bring about what are referred to as Plastic changes in the musculature.

Muscle tissue can go though both Plastic and Elastic changes. Elastic changes are temporary changes, either in length or size in the muscle as would be the case when you stretch your arm back to skim a pebble over the surface of a pond or the incredible blood pump and definition your seem to have right after a weight training session.  The key property of Muscle Elasticity is the ability to return its original shape, and therefore these types of changes don’t last long and are quickly lost with time.

Slower Movements Encourage Plastic Changes!

Plastic changes on other hand are much more permanent and refer to the muscle tissues ability to retain its new shape even after the stimulus is removed. When you look at a Fisherman, a Construction Worker or anyone who uses their muscles repeatedly at a task over a prolonged period of time, you are looking at Plastic changes. The Fisherman doesn’t have to hold his breath in order to display his abdominal muscles, because they have undergone plastic changes and are more or less permanently there. In the same token, you will be able to tell a former Athlete or a Soldier even years into their old age because their constant training brings about plastic changes that never disappear entirely.

Breath, Concentrate & Slow Down Your Movements!

They may get out of shape, they may get a bit rotund in the midsection, but even then you can always see from their overall physique that they were once very active individuals. It is this sort of permanent Plastic changes that yield forth from consistent Super Slow Training.

The very next time you are at the gym or working out at home try it for your self –  breath, concentrate and slow down your movements. These three important points will be critical to building the body and the muscle tone you have always desired!

Have a Slow Paced Week will you!