While I contend that there is a
need for more (or at least some) peer-reviewed research on this type of training, I believe that the issue central to this debate is time under tension (TUT). TUT is simply the amount of time (in a repetition, set or even a workout) a muscle is required to generate tensile force. Load assignment (% of 1 RM) also affects TUT, but it is negatively correlated to TUT. Thus, to increase TUT, you must decrease load assignment. Put another way, if you increase the percent of 1 RM of your training load, you will fail in fewer repetitions or have a shorter TUT (Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by Thomas R. Baechle provides a good summary).
In Keeler’s study, the TUT for the superslow training group was 120 to 180 seconds (8-12 repetitions of 15 seconds each), and the load assignment was approximately 50 percent of 1 RM. The TUT for the traditional training group was 48 to 72 seconds (8-12 reps of 6 seconds each), at a load of approximately 80 percent of 1 RM. The existing literature covering load assignment and strength gain demonstrate that, while strength gain may occur when training with 50 percent of 1 RM, a greater strength gain will result from load assignments approaching 1 RM (for review, see Designing Resistance Training Programs by Fleck and Kraemer). This may explain, at least
in part, why the traditional training group improved in 1 RM while the superslow group did not.
Kudos to Keeler et al. for pioneering research on this hot, but poorly understood, topic. Future research, using set duration (TUT) or load assignment
to equalize the training protocols, may prove valuable in the “superslow or
Dan MacLennan, MSc
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Phone: (858) 535-8979, ext. 256Letters may be edited for length and clarity.IDEA PERSONAL Trainer March 2002
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