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Lifting Weights the Super-Slow Way

Workout Technique May Bring Desired Results

Slower Is Safer

Today, super-slow's popularity is growing. Celebrities like actor Brad Pitt use the technique as a way to build muscle quickly. Super-slow can build 50% more muscle in 10 weeks than regular weightlifting.

The idea of super-slow is to bring the muscles to exhaustion by keeping them bear weight -- keeping them loaded, in weight-room parlance -- throughout the movement.

"The basis of our belief is the in-road theory," Hutchins says. "Basically we train your muscles by putting a weight load on them so that the muscle goes from the fresh strength that you start with to where, after several reps, it is reduced to the point where you can't move the [weight]. Somewhere on the in-roading process the muscle gets progressively more fatigued and we cross a ... threshold, which turns on a signal to the body to produce greater strength and to grow muscle."

When done properly, in-roading occurs when the muscles fail, usually within two or three minutes if done properly.

"It's performed slower to be harder," Hutchins says.

The super-slow method targets the body's major muscles, called skeletal muscles. Hutchins says the skeletal muscles are the body's engine. They produce more heat, consume more calories, and receive more blood flow than any of the body's other muscles.

Until now, skeletal muscles have largely been ignored. And to top it off , the benefits of weightlifting in general have taken a back seat to such activities as running and aerobics.

A super-slow workout offers a variety of rewards, according to Hutchins.

For one, slower is safer. Most weightlifting injuries are the result of poor form and jerky, erratic movements. Also, the slower you go, the more time the muscles are carrying the weight load. Moving fast can cause momentum to take over and reduce the weight load.

How to Do It

Before you start a super-slow workout, Hutchins says it's important to determine how much weight you can lift and then reduce it by 30%.

"If you're a novice and we knew the weight that was perfect for your strength it wouldn't be good to go that high," he says. "You need to master the technique."

Concentration on form is important with super-slow.

  • Find a quiet place where you can work uninterrupted for 20-30 minutes.
  • Start with six to 10 repetitions of each exercise, taking 10 seconds to lift the weight and another 10 seconds to lower it.
  • Take as little time as possible in between exercises.

Remember, Hutchins says, the objective of super-slow exercise is to make the muscles fail.

"Move briskly but safely between exercises," he says.

A good workout for beginners should include five to six exercises.

  • Begin with the lower body. Do a calf raise, squat, or leg press.
  • Follow that with a chin-up or pull-down. Next, do pushups or a chest press.
  • Finish the workout with a static neck exercise.

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