Colpo Counters

November 27, 2007

Albeit weakly.

First let me say that I promise this will be the last post on Mr. Colpo. I've got better things to do and better info to provide to you.

I only posted about him because he insulted me on his web board (which I have been banned from because he couldn't take the heat of being wrong) along with my co-author Michael Eades M.D.

I realized then that blogging on him was more than likely a waste of time but I did it anyway. I caved, what can I say?

But what I find amazing is how little he understands about exercise. The more he talks about it and provides links to support his stance, the more I see how little he actually knows. It's been an eye opener.

For example, in his rant at me he states the following to support fast speed reps:

"Research comparing eccentric- and concentric-only training indicates that the eccentric (negative) portion of a lift is critical in facilitating hypertrophy gains. Concentric only regimens deliver less muscle mass gains than eccentric only routines.

Traditionally, many trainers (even those who care little for super slow training) have advised their clients to perform the negative in a slower-than-usual fashion. Recent research indicates that this advice is in need of a rethink.

Shepstone et al took healthy young men and made them train one arm with fast isokinetic eccentric contractions, the other with slow contractions. They found greater hypertrophy and strength gains at 8 weeks in arms trained with fast isokinetic eccentric contractions than with slow contractions:"

The first part of this statement refers to isotonic (regular weight lifting technique) exercise, not isokinetic (a machine that delivers resistance via a servo motor) exercise. He states that:

"Concentric only regimens deliver less muscle mass gains than eccentric only routines."

There is no evidence that I am aware of to support this claim. He certainly didn't give us a link to it as he did for several of his other claims. I'd like to see some please Mr. Colpo.

And even if there was, realize that negative only ISOTONIC training is always performed with a much heavier weight load and at much slower speeds. So, is it the negative that causes the superior results OR is it that when performing negative only ISOTONIC repetitions the muscles experience a slower and heavier contraction?

I think I know.

The study in question used isokinetic negative repetitions. They compared fast to slow repetitions. OK now here's the problem...

A slow repetition on an isokinteic machine requires the servo motor to deliver LESS resistance. A fast repetition requires the delivery of a stronger resistance. What the subjects are attempting is to fight the servo motor from forcing the arm (in this case elbow biceps flexion) down. A slow rep can only be achieved via less overall resistance.


And even still, the differences were meager. See below.


Notice how it says: Training Speed at the bottom? The researchers have it all wrong. It should say instead: Resistance Encountered Greater Lesser. In fact, if the resistance was so great that the arm was shoved downward so rapidly that the subjects could not begin to resist the load you'd see far worse strength and cross sectional results.

Same goes for far slower.

If they gave the subjects in the slow group half of the resistance allowing for say twice the lowering time (let's call it superslow), they'd probably have experienced zip in terms of strength and size gains.

So here we see that Mr. Colpo doesn't seem know or understand how an isokinetic machine operates - or hopes that YOU don't.

And this is just one example.

He says the following:

"Hahn strongly protests about my citation of the Keeler study, which showed poorer results for Super Slow training, arguing that the lighter weights used in the Super Slow arm of the study invalidate the results. But deliberately lifting a weight slowly inevitably reduces the amount of resistance able to be used for a given number of reps. Keeler et al structured the workout routines so that both the slow and fast training groups performed a similar amount of repetitions."

I explained this in my previous blog but I'll try again as Mr. Colpo seems to have misread it.

Colpo says:

"But deliberately lifting a weight slowly inevitably reduces the amount of resistance able to be used for a given number of reps."

Really? Says who? In fact the opposite is true IF form in an exercise is kept pure. If you cheat violently then you can indeed toss aloft a heavier weight. But think about it - if your car stalled and it was a Mini you could push it off the road a lot faster than if it was a Hummer. In fact if it was a Hummer, you'd push it off the road at a snails pace if you could move it at all. And why? Because it's heavy!

Whenever you lift weights, the heavier you make the weight the slower it will move to the point where it won't move at all if it is too heavy. The lighter a weight load is, the faster you'll be able to move it. And the heavier it is, the more tension created on your muscles. And the more tension placed on the muscles the greater the fiber recruitment hence quality muscular work. Isn't this obvious?

But why believe me? Let's take a look inside Brunnstrom's Clinical Kinesiology textbook 5th edition, pages 142 -144:

This is under the subheading: Speed of Contractions:

"At slow speeds the maximum number of cross bridges can be formed. The more rapidly the actin and myosin filaments slide past one another, the smaller the number of links that are formed between the filaments in a unit of time and the less the amount of force is developed."

Another under the heading Eccentric Muscle Forces:

"At very slow speeds the force that the muscle can resist rises rapidly up to 50% greater than the maximum isometric contraction."

One more under the same heading but as a sub-heading Energy Expenditure:

"The relative cost of resisting the motion decreased as the rate of motion increased. Thus less energy is required to lower a given load quickly than to lower it slowly."

OK. Let's move forward. Colpo says:

"Keeler et al structured the workout routines so that both the slow and fast training groups performed a similar amount of repetitions."

Yes indeed they did. Unlike the Westcott/Winett study that differed in repetitions but kept the set time equal which in the end, proved slow reps to be superior.

Keeler et al asked both the fast and slow repetition groups to perform the same number of repetitions which was 8-12. But the fast speed group was asked to perform a repetition in 6 seconds and the slow group in 15. Just because the rep number is the same doesn't mean the set length is going to be the same and that's what rep number represents - the length of a set.

Let's see if I'm right. I'll average the reps to 10 for each group for easy multiplication. It's been quite a while since I was in 2nd grade so I'll try really hard to get this right.

10 X 6 = er, um, ah! 60!

10 x 15 = er, um, ah! 150!

Let's see 150 - 60 = er, um, ah! 90!

So the slow speed group sets were 90 seconds longer than the the fast rep group. And the sets lasted 150 seconds for the slow group and the fast speed group sets lasted 60 seconds. A fairly gross discrepancy if you ask me. For this error alone, the study belongs in the trash can.

As for the Westcott and Winett study, Colpo states:

"Hahn cites Westcott et al, who found greater strength and hypertrophy gains in those using a slow lifting speed. However, those using the slow speed performed 4-6 reps per set, while those in the fast-lifting groups used 8-12 reps."

Indeed they did - so that the set time would be the same. Again let's do the 2nd grade math and see what we get. Lets look at both rep ranges as the average is a tad off in this case:

Fast speed 6 seconds per repetition:

6 x 8 = 48 and 6 X 12 = 72 - a set time of 48 - 72 seconds

Slow Speed 14 seconds per repetition:

14  x 4 = 56 and 14 x 6 = 84 - a set time of 56 - 84 seconds

In the Westcott/Winett study we see a difference of 12 seconds at best. This difference is extremely minute compared to the Keeler study that had a discrepancy of 90 seconds which alone is at the fringes of the anaerobic range!

Personally I think Westcott should have used 3-5 reps which would have made the set time 42 - 70 seconds but hey, no big deal. And 42 seconds is getting a bit on the low side if you know the science.

Bottom line: Westcott and Winett got it right and Keeler et al got it really wrong.

Then Mr. Colpo says:

"Secondly, what would the results have been if the subjects in the fast lifting group used a similarly lower rep range and hence heavier weights?"

What would happen? Let's see...

6 x 4 = 24. Research tells us that the minimum time that a muscle needs to experience a given load in order to breakdown enough proteins to stimulate a positive response is 30-40 seconds. This would suggest that the low rep range would provide an inadequate stimulus for improvement.

The upper range would then be only 36 seconds. Barely enough to register a benefit. And if they did this for the fast group, the slow rep group would similarly have to lower their rep range to 2 - 2.5 reps.

Mr. Colpo just doesn't get it.

Further, Mr. Colpo accuses Dr. Westcott and Dr. Winett of making profit from slow rep training. He states:

"First of all, I am a little uncomfortable with the fact that the only supportive research for Super Slow comes from folks (Westcott and Winnett) who profit from books promoting the concept."

Indeed not. Where does he get this information from? In fact, at one time Dr. Westcott worked for or consulted for Nautilus Sports medical which promoted, of all things, the faster rep 2/4 speed! Dr. Winett is the director of psychology for Virginia Tech University and profits nada from Super Slow. He's never written a book on the subject and has never to my knowledge worked for an equipment of exercise company. And I know Dr. Winett very well as I do Dr. Westcott.

This is a perfect example of Colpo's lies and BS. The horror for him is he has no idea who I know in this field and will more than likely continue to put his foot in his mouth if he keeps fibbing.

Moving along...

Mr. Colpo states:

"According to HIT commentator Drew Baye, the percentages of RM used in the Keeler study "reflect the initial resistance selection recommendations in the second edition of the SuperSlow technical manual, page 132 of “70% of the suggestion for the standard 2/4 protocol”. The 50% of 1RM used by the SuperSlow group is approximately 70% of the 80% of 1RM used by the traditional group."

First of all Drew is a friend of mine and he and Ken Hutchins, the person who wrote The Super Slow Technical Manual had a severe falling out. Drew has had it out for Hutchins for some time now - and for some fairly legitimate reasons. Since then he has tried to discredit slow training (to hurt Hutchins) stating that a 5/5 rep speed is slow enough. And he may be right. But there is no evidence at present to support his opinion.

But once again Mr. Colpo fails to differentiate between percent of 1RM and percentage of the weight used compared to a faster rep speed which I addressed in my last blog. 50% of a person's 1RM is well below the weight load that would correlate to the reduction of the actual weight used from 80% of a person's 1RM. 

To boot, in the Super Slow manual it is stated that this lighter weight is for novices only and that after a short time, the weight used for slow reps will equal what was used with the faster reps. And I've already discussed this issue in this blog - the heavier a weight is the slower it will move when strength training - unless you're cheating and using poor form which most trainees do.

I like this one:

"But Hahn is like every other dogmatist I've ever come across. The only bad evidence to folks like Hahn is that which conflicts with what he wants to believe (and what he profits from)."

Mr. Colpo should take a long hard look in the mirror. My mom used to say "Whenever you point a finger at someone else, there are 3 more fingers pointing back at you."

Then he begins to compare himself to me. How droll.

Here he is - looking lean - like anyone else who deprives themselves of food and who has the particular set of genetics to become so lean. In fact, there are homeless men in the park in NYC by my apartment who are as lean as Mr. Colpo. Eat less get lean, big deal. Real rocket science.


I am not as lean. (And the man is hairless). I like to eat. I also like fine wine and beer. I am also 46 years old and he is what - 30? Here I am at his age - a Scottish, beer drinking, french fry eatin fool:


Mr. Colpo says:

"Hahn is not a lean nor particularly healthy-looking individual. His skin looks pasty..."

Now, now - I'm a Scotsman. We're not known for our deep dark complexion lad. And remember - if you insult one of us you insult the entire clan! Careful where ye tread!

"... his arms lack a muscular defined appearance...

Well how's this:

Fredmorearms_003 and this Img_1074

"...and there is no hint of the vascularity that characterizes lean and well-trained bodybuilders and strength athletes."

OH - do you think he means the vascularity and leanness of a strength athlete like this?:


I am not a bodybuilder. Never cared to be. If you want to compete as one, then yes you have to get your diet down to a science and really stick to it like a maniac. I enjoy my life far too much to do that.

Mr. Colpo then says this:

"and I do think his lack of leanness is interesting in light of the fact that low-volume training programs elicit a much lower calorie burn than higher volume programs. Folks, if you are going to go with lower volume weight training programs that involve only one set per exercise, then be aware that you will need to account for the reduced calorie burn by tightening up on your caloric intake. Hahn, evidently, has not done this."

Glad this guy isn't working for me at my gym. First of all, you can workout till the cows come home and be fat as a house. No matter what type of training you do it is diet that determines your level of leanness and nothing more.

Here's my friend Dave L who works out once every 7-10 days using HIT slow rep training and ZERO aerobics:

Dave_landau_front_after_best  Dave_landau_back_after

'Nuff said on that.

Onto the other studies. Mr. Colpo states:

"Munn et al found that 3 sets of exercise produce twice the strength increase of one set in the early phase of training, and that training fast produced greater strength increases than training slow. However, they found no additional benefit of training with both three sets and fast contractions. The study involved 115 healthy, previously untrained subjects training 3 x week for 6 weeks with a target rep range of 6-8RM:"

I don't think Mr. Colpo read this study. It has the same flaws as all the others.

And when you perform 3 sets in the early stages of a study using untrained subjects, most of the strength gains made are neurological - benefiting those who practice it more.

Mr. Colpo even chided a poster about this point on his web board (which I cannot access as I have been banned - although I guess I could use my home computer and get on to cut and paste what Mr. Colpo said but that would take too long) calling him an idiot of sorts for not knowing that strength gains are mainly neurological at first. But we see here in this case he forgets all about this and uses it to support his position on multiple sets and fast rep speeds. For shame AC!

But when it came to actual muscle gains there was no difference.

He goes on to more studies:

"Neils et al compared super slow and traditional speed training, and found similar results in both groups save for superior gains in peak power in the traditional speed group"

Since his link didn't bring you to the abstract, here it is:

"The purpose of this study was to determine the early phase adaptations in short-term traditional (TRT) versus superslow (SST) resistance training. Sixteen apparently healthy subjects participated in this study. Subjects were pretested and posttested for their 1 repetition maximums (1RM) in the squat and bench press, peak power in a countermovement jump (CMJ) and squat jump (SJ), and body composition using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Subjects participated in an 8-week resistance training program in either SST (n = 9, 3 men, 6 women), using 50% of 1RM, or TRT (n = 7, 3 men, 4 women), using 80% of 1RM. Both groups trained 3 days per week. The TRT and SST groups improved in strength by 6.8 and 3.6% in the squat exercise and by 8.6 and 9.1% in the bench press, respectively. Peak power for the CMJ increased significantly in the TRT group, from 23.0 +/- 5.5 W/kg to 25.0 +/- 6.3 W/kg; no such increase was seen with respect to the SST group. Both groups' 1RM increased significantly for both the bench press and the squat. No changes in body composition were seen for either group. The results of this study suggest that TRT is more effective for improving peak power than SST."

Notice any glaring problems here - like the ones that were in the Keeler study?

Also note that neither group experienced any changes in body composition. Meaning, neither group gained an ounce of muscle. Pretty crappy results if you ask me.

Notice that the slow group did better in bench strength gains. I wonder how?

Peak power was better in the TRT group but again, the slow group was given too light of a weight load.

Just another crummy study that is worthless.


"Hatfield and Kramer found that slow lifting speeds reduced the number of reps able to be performed with a given weight, while higher lifting speeds allowed for greater peak force and power generation. "

Slow lifting speeds reduce the number of reps?! Interesting. Now, if you do less reps why would you think that would be? My guess - lifting slower is harder and more intense to the muscles. Duh.

Higher lifting speeds require lighter weights (remember Brunnstrom's) and peak force is higher at slower speeds (Brunnstrum's). Sorry Drs. Fleck and Kramer you got it all wrong. Let it be known that Drs. Fleck and Kramer are the heads and co-founders of the NSCA - and organization that PROFITS from high speed, explosive exercise practices. (Remember what Mr. Colpo falsely accused Drs. Winnett and Westcott of?)

Then Mr. Colpo says:

"While Hahn issues unfounded allegations about the integrity of these researchers, their findings support what anyone who has ever tried to lift a heavy weight in 'super slow' fashion would have observed first hand."

I am not the only person in this field who accuses Dr. Kramer and others of his ilk of charlatanism. Dr. Winett, Carpinelli, Otto, and many others have done the same. They lie about multiple sets being superior, about periodization being superior and many other facets of training. I've openly debated them on these issues at trade show conferences.

And anyone who has lifted heavy weights consistantly in a manner that is safe (good form) and efficient (twice weekly for 30 minutes a session) experiences excellent gains in muscle size and strength to the degree that their particular genetics allows.

On bone density:

"Weight training is commonly recommended to older adults as means for combating bone loss and osteoporosis. Stengel et al assigned osteopenic postmenopausal women to weight training programs that involved either slow lifting or fast lifting. The program consisted of twelve-week intervals of periodized high-intensity training [70–90% 1-repetition maximum (1 RM)] intermitted with 4–5 wk of lower training intensity (50% 1 RM)."

Here we go again with the 50% 1RM! The weight is too light!!! Why are these researchers so biased? Or are they just dimly lit?

But Colpo see it differently. He believes what the researchers said which was:

"The only difference between the two groups was the movement velocity. The training protocol specified a 4-s concentric, 4-s eccentric sequence in the slow lifting group and a concentric fast/explosive, 4-s eccentric sequence in the fast lifting group."

No, the OTHER difference was the % 1RM.

He blabs on and on. But you Get the idea I think. He does say this:

"Folks like Poliquin, Simmons, Pavel, etc continue to attract far more attention and acknowledgment than you could ever dream of."

Well Poliquin and Simmons teach two entirely different things and Simmons (while a cool guy in his own right) is almost a cripple from all his explosive heavy lifting. Charles Poliquin is actually fairly smart but doesn't really understand motor learning principles.

As for Pavel (and Poliquin), my book is consistently ranked better on Amazon than theirs. And Pavel's kettle bell training program while sort of cool, is overly dangerous. How do you train your cervical spine with kettlebells? Answer: You don't. You injure it.

Lastly he says to me:

"To be quite honest Fred, while I hardly consider your training methods to be optimal, I'd rather someone at least be in the gym using them than doing nothing at all. Some training is usually better than none. As time goes on, hopefully those folks would then eventually discover and switch to more effective training methods. "

Optimal for what? There is no optimal training program. There are dangerous ones and safer ones. There are inefficient ones and more efficient ones. But thanks for tossing me a bone there AC. I appreciate it.

When you can prove via science that there is a better or more effective method than what I and Dr. Eades teach for making a person leaner and stronger, I'd love it if you sent it this way.