Super Slow Workout

If you’re looking to maximize your training, what’s the best speed to perform your reps?

This question comes up often in strength training circles. When clients ask about rep tempo, my answer is usually to focus on proper form and not to worry about speed. If you can do fast reps and keep them clean and controlled, then go as quickly as you like. If you start losing form, then slow down.

How Slow Can You Go?

While fast reps can be helpful for building agility and explosive power, slow training can be a nice way to work on form and alignment. In fact, just three or four slow reps can often be as challenging as twenty fast ones. Going slowly also requires extreme focus, adding a meditative quality to the workout.

One who’s mastered an exercise can do reps at whatever speed they feel like. As far as I’m concerned, true mastery is only attained once the move can be performed with control at any tempo.

Not So Fast

While there are some strength coaches who claim that super-slow training is the best way to work out, I would certainly not make that assertion. As I’ve stated before, there is no one best way to do anything. There are lots of effective techniques and it’s good to mix it up.

With that in mind, I set out to challenge myself by practicing some of my favorite calisthenics moves much slower than usual. I started with basics like pull-ups and dips, then got to work on super slow muscle-ups, pistol squats and even dragon flags.

Watch the video below for more:

18 thoughts on “Super Slow Workout

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  • By Marwan Magdi - Reply

    Hey Al .. great workout .. i got a question about MUs … i can do about 8-10 with swing and kip … but my form doesn’t get better .. and i don’t know what to do to improve that ! is there any specific workout/sets or sth to do that .. also about the handstand .. on the wall it’s easy but whenever i try it freely i fall right away after 1 or 2 sec .. anyway thanks for inspiration and motivation .. SALUTE FROM EGYPT !

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks, Marwan!  If you want to improve your form on muscle-ups, stop going for quantity and start prioritizing form.  Try just doing one slow, controlled rep at a time.  It will take some practice so be patient.  Freestanding handstands also take lots and lots of practice – there is no shortcut.  I give more in depth advice on both of these exercises in my new book, Raising The Bar.

  • By Mitchell Wright - Reply

    Al, for strength training, it’s all about the mind-to-muscle link. I believe that people are aware it takes time to improve muscle density, but look for the shortcuts anyway. If some one wants to manage 1000 pushups, that’s great. But what’s the point of pounding out those 1000 pushups with horrible form? There’s no progress to made in that.

    -Mitchell

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Mitchell!  I agree, though occasionally I will attempt a high rep set of a basic exercise and grant *a little* leeway with the form.  Like I said, it’s good to mix it up!

  • By Kalvin - Reply

    Al — I know you like a challenge!  See if you can beat the 90 second chin up I did.  30 down/30 up/30 down! I do it every now and then just to mix things up.

    Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckMcxvGKBgw

  • By Kalvin - Reply

    Al — I know you like a challenge!  See if you can beat the 90 second chin up I did.  30 down/30 up/30 down! I do it every now and then just to mix things up.

    Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckMcxvGKBgw

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      You’re a strong guy, Kalvin!  Nice work! 

      I actually once did a 2 minute pull-up – one minute in each direction.  I thought it would be too boring for a blog post though.  :)

  • By Jimmy - Reply

    Al, did I see a smile at the transition on that muscle up?  It was very good, but it almost looked like relief.  And I loved the 1 armed push up.  Not just good form, but poetry….

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks, Jimmy!  I tried to keep my badass face on for most of this clip but you know how I can’t help but smile sometimes.  By the way, did you notice I was on my fingertips for that one arm push-up?  :)

  • By Anil - Reply

    Hey this is a very nice post Al. Thank you. By the way, do you have the bars at park painted? looks cool… Anıl

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thank, Anil!  I didn’t paint the bars myself, but they did get retouched a few weeks ago.  Good eye!

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  • By Etienne - Reply

    Hey Al, just curious if you ever include any weighted vest cals into your workouts?

    • By Etienne - Reply

      By the way, great music for the slow reps!

      • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

        Glad you like the music – thanks!

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Yes I have used a weight vest.  Check this out: http://www.alkavadlo.com/2011/03/weight-vest-training/

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