Wall Street Journal Article

January 08, 2008

We had an article published in the Wall Street Journal's online workout column by Jen Murphy today. Here it is.

Not too bad of an article, but they got a bunch of stuff wrong unfortunately. 

But hey - it's press.

What did they get wrong? Well for one, they said this:

"Slow Burn workouts typically consist of one set of six to 12 exercises with little rest between sets."

They got the sets rights, but the rest between sets wrong. We don't rush from set to set. There's no need. In fact, if a person's heartrate is too high we let them rest until is comes back to normal.

For two:

"A single exercise could be performed as few as four times."

No. A single exercise is performed once. The repetition range may be as low as 4. Maybe they meant this but it's not what was said.

For three, this was stated in the article:

"Proponents of a slow motion method say that it yields better results than lifting in a more traditional style."

And then this:

"But there is little or no scientific data to support this claim, says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise in San Diego."

Little or no? Well, which is it -is there some or is there none herr doctor?

Truth is there are three peer reviewed and published studies showing that slow training is superior to traditional training - all three of which were conducted by Wayne Westcott, Phd who wrote the chapter on strength training for the American Council on Exercise. I guess Dr. Bryant should meet Dr. Westcott someday.

And here's the abstract for two of them:

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2001 Jun;41(2):154-8. Links

    Effects of regular and slow speed resistance training on muscle strength.

South Shore YMCA, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA.

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 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, 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 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 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: 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.

Perhaps I should send this along to Dr. Bryant? Odd he doesn't know about this and, odd that he would say "little to no evidence" doncha think?

For four:

"Mr. Wright initially focused on making the muscles surrounding his rotator cuff stronger, going twice weekly for sessions with his trainer and then eventually cutting back to one day a week of strength training (most proponents of the method suggest two workouts a week)."

He never cut back to one session a week due to our say so. His schedule is so busy with his new ventures that he now can only make it to us once a week. Proponants of the method?! I created it! Why do reportes make this stuff up?

For five:

"He performs each under the supervision of Mr. Hahn, who makes sure proper form and technique are used, and that the weight load has not become too comfortable."

Well, I don't always instruct Mr. Wright to tell you the truth - sometimes the other instructors do. And other than that, I don't know what the rest of that sentence even means.

I find this statement funny:

"Moving weight slowly greatly reduces the effects of momentum and increases muscle tension," says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. and the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. "This may lead to greater gains in muscle strength and endurance, but little or no scientific data exists to support this claim."

It's Dr. Bryant's own claim!! And it's not a claim anyway - it's a fact of exercise physiology.

"When individuals do "slow motion" strength training, they use lighter weights than those used in traditional training."

Says Dr. Bryant. Not with Slow Burn however. Clearly he has not read my book.

"Q: Many proponents of Super Slow or Slow Burn claim two 20-30 minute sessions per week makes for a well-balanced fitness regimen and that extra cardio isn't needed, how much truth is there to that?"

"A: Fred Hahn, the owner of Serious Strength where Mr. Wright works out, says that when performed properly, strength training challenges the cardiovascular system more than adequately enough to keep a person's cardiovascular system healthy."

This is true. There are scores of research papers showing that strength training improves cardiovascular health. Dr. Bryant disagrees:

"With regard to the purported cardio training benefits of "slow motion" strength training, its proponents are misinterpreting the elevated heart rates resulting from such training as an adequate aerobic training stimulus," says Mr. Bryant. "While this type of training can certainly get your heart rate to increase, the increase is more a function of the high compressive loads than an increase in either metabolic demand or overall oxygen uptake."

Strength training is not metabolically demanding? And where oh where Dr. B is oxygen uptaken? In the muscles! And who was talking about slow motion training bettering the cardio system? I said that when performed properly, strength training improves the cardiovascular system and increases aerobic capacity - and it does.

The take home message here is, when you play the party game, you a party response.