Based on the body's physiology of stress and recovery, the SuperSlow protocol employed at One To One Personal Training and Clinical Exercise (735 Octavia St., 891-5121; www.clinical-exercise.biz) is focused on creating short-term, intense tension on the muscles to trigger the body's mechanism that grows muscle.
"The 'use it or lose it' law applies," says Ryan Hall, an exercise physiologist who owns One To One with business partner Emile Tujague III. "It's not unusual to lose 30 percent of your muscle cells between the ages of 20 and 70 if you don't work to prevent it." The good news is that those cells can be re-invigorated and replenished through strength training. The SuperSlow system involves strenuous movements performed slowly to actually cause a little muscle damage, then several days of no strength training to let the muscles recover and grow.
"The damage helps build muscle," Hall says. "Regrowth and recovery is the same process the body goes through to heal a wound and promote new tissue growth. It can help with lots of degenerative aging processes like bone density. Strength training can counteract aging, replacing damaged tissue with new, embryonic tissue, always keeping muscle young. Resistance training is as close to the fountain of youth as we can get."
SuperSlow high-intensity training involves three principles: intensity, frequency and duration. As one of these increases, the other two must decrease. This means workouts are very intense but short in duration, followed by up to five days of recovery. Hall says you can obtain maximum results with one to two workouts and as little as 30 minutes a week.
Workouts are designed around multiple-joint movements to work groups of muscles in a single exercise that applies consistent tension on muscles and is repeated until the targeted muscles are fatigued — it can take as little as two minutes — then you move on to a different muscle group. The following exercise is performed on a Med-X Row machine that has been modified to work with the resistance curve of the body. It works the whole upper body: biceps, forearms, wrists, the upper back and shoulders.
1. Sit on the machine with your sternum against the upright pad, back straight. Push your buttocks to the rear of the seat so you don't use your abdomen muscles or pull with your whole body to draw back the weight. Extend your arms fully (the handle should be just beyond your fingertips). Have someone pull the handle to your hands.
2. With your elbows vertical, slowly pull the weight back and down toward your body, bringing your shoulder blades together.
3-4. Very slowly move your arms back to an extended position, again using the arm and shoulder muscles to guide the weight back to the starting position, arms fully extended.