I have a problem with the concept of superslow repetitions. Maybe that’s a rush to judgment, because I’ve never really done workouts with both a slow positive and a slow negative except when the weight was extremely heavy. Training for the Olympia in 1982, I gained more size than ever by working up in weight on my sets. For example, on bench press I’d do 135 for 15 reps, 185 for 12, 225 for 10, 255 for eight, 275 for six, 290 for three, and end with one rep with 300 pounds. I did all sets except the warmup with slow negatives, and even on that one I employed slightly slower negatives than positives. But as the weight increased, I deliberately decreased the speed of the negative, and since the weight was heavier, the speed of the positive decreased too. It just took more effort to push the weight up. Because it was heavier, it moved more slowly. Because I fought to overcome gravity on both the positive and negative, the muscles worked deeply and consequently grew.
The problem I have with sets on which you deliberately perform the positives extremely slowly is that unless you’re doing it because the weight is heavy, performing slow positives results in your using less weight on the negatives. Superslow reps might be a welcome change from the conventional style of training, but I think they’d be most effective early on in a training program. I talked with a guy who’d been training that way, with sets lasting up to 90 seconds, and he found it very effective.
No doubt you could find a place for this technique in your arsenal. If I were to use superslow reps, it would be on my last set of each exercise. I’d work up in weight for two sets, doing slower negatives than positives, then drop the weight on my last set and do superslow positives and negatives. That way I’d get the benefits of using a heavier weight with faster positives and then going for a burn with the superslow reps afterward.
It’s always amazed me how many different techniques are effective if you practice them correctly and consistently. As the saying goes, ‘Everything works if you let it.’ Years ago we never did slow negatives and just concentrated on using heavier weights by doing faster negatives. The muscles grew, but it was harder on the joints. Doing slower negatives seems safer because in effect you’re making a lighter weight feel heavier. You also have more control over the movement and don’t resort to cheating and poor form.
My most effective training employs rhythmic repetitions with a controlled explosive positive (pushing or pulling the weight as forcefully as necessary to complete the positive’not using excessive force, but just enough) and a negative that’s at least a little slower. Sometimes the negative is much slower. It depends on the exercise and what feels best. If the exercise has a short range of motion, like wrist curls or abdominal work, I do faster, higher reps. It’s all illustrated in my new ‘Train With Zane Workout Video.’ Check it out. Form is everything.
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