Arthur Jones, inventor of the famous Nautilus Machines, was also responsible for the popularity of HIT, High Intensity Training during the 70’s. He organized the Colorado Experiment to demonstrate the effectiveness of this form of bodybuilding, training Casey Viator in this protocol using Nautilus Machines exclusively. Arthur Jones himself went through his own program, gaining substantial muscle in the process.
An offshoot of Arthur Jones’ Nautilus High Intensity Training, Superslow was developed by a former associate of Mr. Jones’, Ken Hutchins. Afterward, he opened a chain of gyms where specially certified instructors would train clients using this protocol exclusively. While popular for a number of years, interest in this method waned eventually, which is true for HIT training in general. In recent years, due to extensive testing and scientific proof of HIT’s effectiveness if performed properly, there is a renewed interest in this method of training.
Superslow is based on a slow exercise cadence which places additional tension on the muscle(s) and is safer because all swinging and momentum is eliminated, decreasing stress on ligaments, joints and muscles. This is true if momentum is eliminated from faster cadence routines as well.
Initially, the rep cadence was 10/10; a ten second positive and ten second negative. Through trial and error, it was determined that a ten second negative “allowed” the muscle to rest, which is unacceptable. The cadence which offers the best focus on the muscle while working the negative was determined to be 10/4. Due to the use of 14-second reps, it becomes necessary to reduce the rep count to 4 or 5 to keep the time under tension appropriate for the muscle being trained. If we typically train our biceps with a tut of 60 seconds because of a mixed fiber makeup, using a rep cadence of 2/4 and 10 reps, we need to change the parameters to 10/4 with a rep count of 4 or 5 at most to keep in our range of 60-70 seconds.
Changing rep speed and count
This brings us to a point where we can become very creative with our rep count and speed. To change things up try using a rep cadence of 8/4, which changes the rep to 12 seconds each. To hit our goal of 60-70 seconds tut, we need to change the rep count to 5-6. Change the rep cadence to another scheme and alter your rep count to maintain the desired tut. I realize that I have drifted from the original focus of this article a little but I want you to see how easy it is to improvise the Superslow technique from its original parameters to shock your muscles into new growth by being creative with your training.
During the performance of the sets, use a rep cadence of 10/4, a 10-second positive, or raising of the weight and a 4-second negative, or lowering.
An arm routine using this method is as follows:
- machine curls-1×5
- dumbbell concentration curls-1×5
- close-grip pull-downs with palms facing-1×5
- triceps kickbacks-1×5
- lying triceps extensions-1×5
- bar dips-1×5
- grip squeezes with multi-grip device-1×15
Special note: Since each rep is going to take 14 seconds, to achieve a total time under tension of no more than 70 seconds, five reps are recommended. During each set never allow your muscles to rest. Make the entire set one continuous movement except for the top where you should contract the muscle as hard as you can for one second before lowering the weight. Do not rest between exercises.
It is very important to push all sets to complete exhaustion due to the low set count. Otherwise you will not have ample work for the muscles to grow. Strive to increase the weight used on all exercises each training session. If you are an advanced bodybuilder add 1-2 forced reps at the end of one of the sets for each muscle every other workout.
Since grip squeezes are much shorter in length, a higher rep count is used to increase the time under tension. In all exercises use a weight that is 65-70% of what you normally use in each exercise.
While there are many different techniques, or variables, that can be employed to increase the effectiveness of bodybuilding training, Superslow definitely increases inroading of the muscle. I recommend rotating this technique with other HIT variables for a complete program. Give this system a try and I think you’ll agree it is a very effective HIT variable.
David Groscup has over 35 years of training experience in HIT, or High Intensity Weight Training. He is certified as a High Intensity Trainer by the IART/Med-Ex Group and has trained many people successfully in this protocol.
He has authored many books on the subject of high intensity training, which are available at: http://www.amazon.com/author/davidgroscup
You can read his blog on High Intensity Training at: http://drhitshighintensitybodybuilding.blogspot.com/