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Health Talk 

Kandace Power Graves talks with Ryan Hall, a certified exercise specialist and owner of One To One Personal Training and Clinical Exercise (735 Octavia St., 891-5121), about Superslow, a strength-building exercise protocol that only requires a 30-minute, high-intensity workout a week.

Q: What is the Superslow system?

A: The underlying philosophy is based around high-intensity training. In order to get results from exercise, you have to balance stimulus and recovery. Exercise is a stimulus, and when you exercise, you basically cause some type of tissue damage. Your body does not develop during exercise; it develops in response to that damage, during recovery. The results you will get from exercise are directly proportional to the intensity of that stimulus: the greater the intensity of the stimulus, the greater your adaptive response will be. So what we want to do is stimulate as intensely as possible and allow enough time for you to have completely recovered from that initial stimulus (before working out again). Superslow is a technique consistent with that philosophy.

Q: Can you really build muscle and lose weight with a 30-minute workout a week?

A: Absolutely you can. It's all about progress. It doesn't matter how many times you workout as long as you improve. What we're trying to do is get your body to make a physiological adaptation by building its body tissue. Exercise is a negative; it is literally damage to your body. What we're trying to do is find the minimum amount of exercise needed to get the maximum response, not the maximum amount of exercise your body can withstand.

Q: As a personal trainer, how do you evaluate how much someone is able to do?

A: When people first start out, they can work out more often, usually twice a week. After they advance and get stronger, they will be lifting heavier weight, thus creating a greater stimulus and creating greater tissue damage. That greater stimulus will require greater time in order to fully recover from that deeper stimulus. Research has shown that basically the tissue damage from exercise is synonymous with getting a wound. Your body has an inflammatory response ... that takes several days to repair the tissue. If you introduce another stimulus before you are fully recovered, you just cause more tissue damage. That's called over-training.

Q: While recovering, is there maintenance people need to do at home?

A: That's not really necessary. Although we advocate people have an active lifestyle, you want to fully recover between sessions. Just do what you normally do: riding bikes, playing golf, those things are basically low intensity.

Q: When Superslow was developed, what type of person was in mind?

A: The protocol originally was developed as a treatment for osteoporosis (at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1992). The reason they used the slow-training protocol was that injury to the body is caused by excessive increases in force. When we have a greater acceleration, we have increased force and increased injury. If we decrease the acceleration, we decrease the force, translating into a safer protocol. It's all based on scientific research.

Q: This is good for any age?

A: The most recent study (of the protocol) was done by Wayne Westscott in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, June 2001. Under the results section he wrote, "Superslow training resulted in about a 50 percent greater increase in strength for both men and women than regular speed training."

Q: How quickly do people see results?

A: That's kind of a loaded question. It depends on what your fitness status is when you start. If you're closer to your maximum strength, results are going to come slower. If you're pretty out of shape, you'll notice results very quickly, because you're on the steep end of the results curve.

Q: Is the idea that if it is manageable, people will stay with the regimen?

A: What we're trying to find is the minimum amount of exercise to get the optimum results. Because of the requirements of the exercise, it fits in very easily with most people's lifestyle. Anybody can fit this into their schedule.

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