Is Slow Weight Training a Gimmick or Really Effective?

Slow Motion Fitness - My Opinion and Advice

Is Slow Weight Training a Gimmick or Really Effective?

Rarely a week goes by that a client, friend or family member does not ask me about the true efficacy of Slow Motion Fitness Training. They all tell me that they have seen on TV or talked to a trainer or a friend about this "revolutionary" weight training system that allows a person to perform super slow weight training for only 30 minutes one time per week with amazing results!

Most of those asking me this question already have a feeling that the idea of training for only 30 minutes per week is not "enough" to really improve muscular tone and provide lasting fitness and health benefits. Bottom line, that "feeling" is right. Programs – and there are many national and local Austin chains pushing this Slow Motion Training for only 30 minutes per week – are, in my opinion, a gimmick.

Now, certainly, slow motion training has its place – I use it, and when used appropriately it is very effective. However, to espouse that slow motion training is the only type of training a body needs to stay healthy and fit over time is LUDICROUS. I actually find it almost criminal that some of these Slow Motion Training centers tell their clients that slow motion training "virtually eliminates" the need for aerobic activity and any additional resistance training. The ears at the American Heart Association are bleeding.

If you learned anything at all about the human body in high school biology, you learned that it has an amazing capacity to adapt. If you are not regularly changing and challenging your body with a variety of cardiovascular and resistance training styles, you cannot and will not maximize your wellness and fitness. Can super slow training help you gain muscle and lose fat? Yes, but NOT over an extended period of time and NOT nearly as quickly, effectively, and inclusively as multiple one hour sessions per week provided by highly educated and experience trainers that provide clients with a wide variety of training techniques and styles.

In the fitness and wellness world we look at both health related components of  fitness and motor related components of fitness. With regard to health related components of fitness we include cardio-respiratory fitness, body composition, flexibility, absolute strength (how much weight you can lift once) and dynamic stretch (muscular endurance). For the motor related components of fitness we include coordination, agility (nimble, quick in movement, the ability to change direction quickly and with skill), power, balance, speed and accuracy.


30 min timerCan you honestly believe that thirty minutes of slow weight training per newsflashweek is going to address all of the main elements of fitness and wellness? Well, news flash, you can't!


Exclusively training in the super slow training style is low in volume, low in frequency, low in repetitions, low in sets, low in resistance, low in tempo, rest intervals vary based on client and trainer, and the exercise selection is typically very limited because the national and local chains that offer super slow training typically only offer machine based weight lifting. In thirty minutes, there is no time to include anything other than a few basic resistance training moves. Clients do not have time to warm up, cool down or stretch. There is typically no work on overall balance and total body coordination. Agility work certainly does not enter the picture. I do submit to the idea that a super slow motion training workout could be done in a circuit training manner, therefore incorporating some cardio vascular benefits; but over time, these cardio benefits would diminish as the only variable that changes in super slow training is the amount of weight used in the exercises.

I have often heard proponents of super slow training talk about how safe this method of training is for clients. These trainers talk about the amount of control their clients have during each workout and how slow training reduces the effect of gravity and momentum in workouts. Hmmm, let's check with Newton about how to change the effect of gravity while on planet earth....or better yet, if gravity is giving your client issues, how about changing position, volume of weight or the actual exercise? Tempo is certainly important in both cardio and resistance training – but to design an entire workout – week after very boring week – is really just like stealing your client's money while putting them to sleep with your tedious workout plan.

Below I have listed the main principles of resistance training and cardiovascular training. A great trainer or coach evaluates a client's goals and progress and regularly adjusts workouts to continually challenge the body in new ways. He or she uses the principles below to vary workouts in order to maximize the progress of a client.

Principles of Resistance Training

1. Frequency – the number of days of the week the exercise is completed

2. Intensity – the difficulty of the resistance used or the amount of resistance used in proportion to your one repetition maxPutman006 357x500

3. Repetitions – the consecutive number of times a weight is lifted and lowered

4. Sets – a set is defined by a predetermined completion of a number of repetitions

5. Resistance – amount of weight lifted (your actual weight load)

6. Volume and Total Volume – the total amount of weight, repetitions and sets during a workout

7. Tempo – cadence or time under tensionMike Back 320x212

8. Rest Intervals – the amount of recovery between sets

9. Exercise Selection – the choice of exercises for the training goal

10. Order of Exercises – sequence of exercises performed

11. Training System – model of training style used as determined by goals of client

Principles of Cardiovascular Training

1. Mode – type of cardio chosen

2. Intensity – how hard are you working with respect to your maximum heart rate

3. Duration – how long are your performing your cardio RunningPath 320x214

4. Frequency – how many times per week are you doing cardio

5. Overload – what are you doing to increase the oxygen demand in your body in order to overload your cardiovascular system

6. Specificity – what is your training goal

7. Progression – how are you increasing you overload over time

In conclusion, I do believe that exclusively performing super slow training for thirty minutes once per week, week after week, month after month, is an expensive, time wasting and very boring gimmick. Why not invest your money with a highly experienced educated and smart trainer that you enjoy who can provide you with a huge variety of well thought out, challenging, effective, safe and correctly progressed workouts?

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