Background: The study assessed a way to increase the intensity and effectiveness of resistance training by comparing training with a slower repetition speed to training with a conventional repetition speed. Slower repetition speed may effectively increase intensity throughout the lifting phase while decreasing momentum.
Methods: Two studies were done with untrained men (N=65) and women (N=82), (mean age=53.6) who trained two to three times per week for eight to 10 weeks on a 13 exercise Nautilus circuit performing one set of each exercise. Participants exclusively trained using regular speed repetitions for 8 to 12 repetitions per set at 7 sec each (2 sec lifting, 1 sec pause, 4 sec lowering) or a Super Slow training protocol where they completed 4 to 6 repetitions per set at 14 sec each (10 sec lifting, 4 sec lowering). All of the participants were tested for either the 10 repetition-maximum (RM) weightload (regular-speed group) or the 5-RM weightload (slow-speed group).
Results: In both studies, Super-Slow training resulted in about a 50% greater increase (p<0.001) in strength for both men and women than regular speed training. In Study 1, the Super-Slow training group showed a mean increase of 12.0 kg and the regular speed group showed an increase of 8.0 kg increase (p<0.001). In Study 2, the Super-Slow training group showed a 10.9 kg increase and the regular speed group showed an increase of 7.1 kg (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Super-Slow training is an effective method for middle-aged and older adults to increase strength. Although studies still need to be done with at-risk populations, repetition speed should be considered when prescribing resistance training.