Pendant plusieurs années j'ai fait un peu de musculation presque tous les jours. Résultats intéressants, mais j'étais souvent à la limite de la tendinite : dès qu'emporté par mon enthousiasme je forçais un peu trop, ça ne manquait pas.
Ensuite j'ai espacé puis arrêté ces exercices, et perdu assez vite du volume musculaire.
Alors qu'avec cette méthode, je l'ai presque retrouvé avec un minimum d'effort : une séance d'exercices par semaine seulement, et aucune douleur, aucune tendinite.
L'idée est simple et pleine de bon sens : l'astuce est de solliciter le plus possible les muscles, mais en limitant au maximum les efforts des tendons. Pour cela on effectue des mouvements très lents, avec une charge importante, jusqu'à échec du mouvement.
Ce n'est pas l'épuisement total du muscle : on s'arrête au premier échec temporaire.
L'idée physiologique est que lorsque le muscle atteint l'incapacité à faire le mouvement, il envoie un signal qui indique à l'organisme qu'il manque de fibres musculaires, ce qui conduit à leur fabrication !
Cet épuisement du muscle est temporaire (si on attend quelques minutes, on peut réitérer le mouvement), mais l'idée de cette méthode c'est qu'il devient inutile de continuer l'exercice, cela ne ferait que "fatiguer" les tendons pour un effet supplémentaire négligeable.
En fait les exercices classiques (rapides, répétés en grand nombre, avec périodes de repos de quelques minutes) ont plutôt pour effet de vider les réserves d'énergie (glycogène) du muscle. C'est efficace pour perdre un sur-poids de graisses, mais pour le muscle c'est surtout de la "gonflette" : cela invite le muscle à augmenter principalement ses réserves d'énergie (glycogène), mais peu ses fibres musculaires. Visuellement on ne fait pas la différence : le volume du muscle augmente, mais la force musculaire n'est pas en proportion. Et à l'arrêt de ces exercices réguliers, ces réserves d'énergie fondront bien plus rapidement que s'il s'agit de fibres musculaires.
La deuxième clé de ces exercices, c'est le repos entre les séances. C'est primordial pour que le muscle puisse fabriquer ces fameuses fibres musculaires dans de bonnes conditions. Il semble que les exercices quotidiens trop intenses soient contre-productifs, et plutôt néfastes sur le long terme (par exemple pour les tendons).
Au début on préconise seulement une séance par semaine pour un même muscle (on peut faire plusieurs séances si on sollicite différents muscles à chaque fois). Le muscle a alors largement le temps de se reposer, de se reconstruire et de se développer.
Ensuite on peut passer à deux séances par semaine, mais un temps de repos de 2 jours semble toujours le minimum nécessaire.
En pratique : Les premières fois, ce que l'on ressent est assez incroyable : c'est comme si une myriade de petits muscles étaient sollicités alors qu'ils échappaient aux exercices de musculation classique (pourtant strictement les mêmes mouvements, mais à vitesse normale ou rapide). Au début, à cause de tous ces petits "maillons faibles", l'échec du mouvement arrive étonnamment vite. Ça rend humble.
Attention aux exercices avec les jambes, ça risque d'être difficile de marcher pendant les heures qui suivent !
Mais le lendemain je trouve qu'il y a beaucoup moins de courbatures qu'avec les exercices classiques, parfois même pas du tout. Sans doute parce qu'on n'a pas épuisé les réserves d'énergie du muscle en le faisant énormément travailler (avec la formation d'acide lactique que cela entraine), on lui a juste mis une claque pour lui montrer qu'il n'était pas à la hauteur !
A noter que la nutrition idéale pour accompagner ces exercices et gagner en masse musculaire, c'est bien évidemment... la viande crue ! (protéines et graisses animales)
Plus de détails dans cet article en anglais :
As mentioned above, this newsletter is meant to introduce a few ideas and people I have been working with over the past year, in particular those whose ideas have helped bring major improvements in my life and in the lives of many of my patients. The first concept is super slow weight training. Pete Kinkead, with whom I have worked for over a year, explains the history and theory of super-slow training in article below, and I would like to make a few medical remarks about this method.
The idea that high intensity weight training has profound physiological effects is very well established in the medical literature. The changes that occur seem all to be the result of the body’s mobilization in response to injury that occurs with high intensity training. Perhaps this mobilization response’s greatest effect is that, in order to repair the self-induced damage, a whole cascade of repair hormones, particularly growth hormone, are increased as a result of each workout. Growth hormone works to build up muscle and bone, lowers blood sugar, reduces chronic inflammation, and is as close to an anti-aging tonic as there is. Giving someone growth hormone is possible, but the risk in that is provoking excessive growth, i.e. cancer. There is no such risk when the growth hormone is stimulated by the high intensity activity of super slow weight training where it is made by our own glands.
Super slow training is also helpful for injured joints, as the inevitable muscle strengthening that results is often helpful in relieving pain and disability in the corresponding joint. The bone activation effect make super slow a good treatment for osteoporosis, which actually was one of its original indications. Super slow weight training may not be for the faint of heart but for those willing to put forth the effort, there are huge and varied benefits to be gained.
Terry Rowles, my golf coach who hails originally from England, is also a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and one of the lead students of the founder of NLP. While I’m no expert on the history of NLP, I do know the surprising effect it has had on my playing golf. Using unusual exercises, Terry identifies areas in my game that cause me emotional and then physiological stress. All golfers, in fact all people in stressful situations, go through a host of strong physiological responses that, at the least, make it impossible to perform to one’s best. The key here is to try to break the chain of those responses.
Stress, of course, happens regularly in the game of life, and is in many people’s minds one of the root causes of illness. We get stuck in stress responses, triggered by a myriad of events, people, thoughts, etc.; these responses become habitual, and then our bodies and minds under-perform. Try as we might to “relax”, we become even more tense, more convinced that we can’t do whatever the task is in front of us. Working with Terry and his NLP-based exercises helps break this whole chain of events. The task that has been troubling can be seen in a new light, and we can then perform to our best capacity. This pattern is a crucial aspect of healing – stepping out of the way and letting the wisdom of our body shine through – and is a much more fun and invigorating way to go through life.
We’re pleased to hear from both Pete Kinkead and Terry Rowles about how these concepts work. Read on…
Introducing Slow Cadence Strength Training
The fast track to fitness is to go slow! If you are seeking to achieve and maintain an optimal level of physical fitness in the most efficient and effective manner possible (and who isn’t?), I urge you to discover the secret that I and many athletes and fitness professionals have recently found: the fastest way to get fit is to go slow. Very slow.
What I’m referring to is called slow motion or slow cadence strength training, and not only is it remarkably effective, but it offers convenience to those who are serious about their health but unwilling or unable to devote large amounts of time to fitness activity. This method of training requires commitment and hard work, but at the same time is intuitive and uncomplicated. It was the discovery of this methodology that led me to leave my corporate career and enter the fitness industry, and I greatly enjoy watching our clients experience unprecedented results with just one 20-minute training session per week.
Obtaining and maintaining our optimal fitness takes time and patience and comes down to two simple requirements: good nutrition and proper exercise. The body was designed or has evolved to get everything it needs from food and exercise, yet most of us continually try to shortcut what nature has already perfected. Huge industries have been created to sell us the latest innovation in fitness shortcuts, be it pharmaceutical, mechanical, or electronic.
I don’t mean to spoil the party, but no shortcut exists. Innovation has its place, and modern exercise equipment helps us exercise in a safer and more efficient manner. Furthermore, healthy food is more easily accessible than ever before and in wide varieties to those who seek it. But no gizmo, machine, supplement, or überfood will compensate for an unhealthy diet or a lack of proper exercise. I’ll leave nutrition education to respected authorities like Dr. Tom Cowan, but will address instead what it means to exercise.
Most exercise falls into one of two categories: steady- state or “cardio” exercise, and resistance or strength training. The former refers to low or medium intensity activity performed for extended periods of time and is considered beneficial for fat reduction, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and overall endurance. Resistance or strength training is associated with using weight or other resistive force against the movement of skeletal muscles in order to develop strength through muscular hypertrophy: the increase in cross-sectional area of muscle fibers.
I don’t dispute the benefits of steady-state exercise, but it does not appreciably stimulate muscular strength and the repetitive movements and inertial forces common to many such activities can be conducive to joint and connective tissue injuries.
It’s my contention that strength training is the most critical component of any serious fitness program. In addition to the obvious advantages of looking and feeling stronger, strength training also provides the following short- and long-term benefits:
- injury prevention and rehabilitation
- prevention of muscle and bone loss due to aging
- prevention of diseases such as adult onset diabetes, colon cancer, and osteoporosis
- lowered resting blood pressure
- reduction in body fat through increased resting metabolism
- relief of chronic back pain and arthritis pain
- and yes, cardiovascular fitness!
Simply lifting weight until we are tired or have performed some prescribed number of exercise repetitions does not constitute strength training, yet that is precisely how many people conduct their workouts. Since muscle tissue consumes calories even while at rest, the body will not build nor maintain any more muscle than it believes is required for survival, preferring instead to store unused energy as fat. If we want to build more muscle and strength than our daily routines require, we must make the body believe it’s not strong enough. To accomplish this, we must fatigue each muscle group to the point where it can no longer perform the work asked of it. We refer to this fatigue threshold as muscle failure, and it is the objective of each and every exercise.
Muscles create movement through the contraction of muscle fibers. There are several types of muscle fibers with varying characteristics, but what’s important to know is that some of them may recover and contract again in a matter of seconds if allowed to rest, and that the number of fibers activated is limited to what is required to perform the work at hand. The more quickly we can fatigue all available muscle fibers, the more efficient an exercise is in terms of time and work required.
The two factors that will defeat or unnecessarily extend an exercise are rest and momentum. Resting or pausing during an exercise will allow partial recovery and re-recruitment of muscle fibers, leaving others unused during the movement. Momentum is the tendency of a body in motion to stay in motion, and is a function of velocity. The faster we move in an exercise, the less force our muscles have to produce and the longer we have to work to reach failure. To eliminate or minimize rest and momentum in an exercise, we must perform it very slowly and continuously until failure is achieved. This is the key distinction between slow cadence strength training and other methods.
In addition there are two other primary reasons for moving slowly during strength building exercise:
1. Reducing acceleration greatly minimizes the risk of injury
2. Moving slowly increases the number of muscle fibers activated and the frequency that motor impulses are fired, thereby increasing muscle tension and subsequent growth stimulus
Just how slow you should move will depend on your physiology and the type of exercise equipment you’re using, but roughly we’re talking about 15-25 seconds for each complete repetition. This is about one-tenth to one-fifth the speed employed in most traditional training programs. Furthermore, there are no periods of rest within a given set of exercise. The muscles should be under load and working continuously until they can no longer continue. The weight or resistance setting should be adjusted such that failure is achieved within 90-120 seconds. With the exercise time held somewhat constant by adjusting the resistance, the amount of resistance then becomes the primary indicator of strength, and you’ll be pleased to see it increase steadily between workouts. At this pace, a full body workout consisting of 5-7 exercises can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Working a muscle group to failure is a challenging and intense effort, but without the intensity there can be no growth.
Once muscle failure is achieved, the stimulus for growth has been established and the body will respond without further incentive. Our job at this point is to let the body recover from the exercise and develop stronger muscle tissue in anticipation of further stress. For this reason, we perform just one set of exercise for each major muscle group at each workout, and then let the body recover before training again.
Muscle fatigue represents a mild physiological trauma which simply requires time to heal, just as a laceration or any other mild injury. The practice of training at a frequency greater than an individual’s recovery time is known as overtraining and can severely impede progress. Generally speaking, recovery time is approximately 2-3 days for people new to strength training and increases over time as workout intensity and neuromuscular efficiency are improved. Most of our clients train just once each week with significant results. While we strongly encourage clients to participate in other physical activity throughout the rest of the week, it is best to minimize very strenuous activity or at least space it several days away from scheduled training sessions so as not to impede proper recovery.
A viable slow cadence training program ought to include:
1. A distraction-free environment with consistent lighting, human occupancy, and cool temperature to prevent overheating
2. A consistent routine encompassing one set of exercise for each major muscle group, performed in the same order during each workout and with minimal rest in between sets
3. Each exercise is performed slowly through a full range of motion without rest according to established protocol and with proper form until muscle failure is achieved
4. Accurate and consistent tracking of all weights lifted and the amount of time before failure is reached
5. Sessions must be brief and infrequent, ranging from 20-40 minutes in duration and allowing ample recovery time of 3-7 days between workouts, depending on workout intensity and individual progress
A slow cadence workout is best performed on high quality, friction-free exercise equipment, but the methodology can be applied effectively to almost any apparatus or with no equipment at all. The workout can be performed without supervision, but a qualified trainer is strongly recommended if feasible. A skilled trainer provides guidance, education, safety, progress tracking, and accountability, all of which are crucial to a successful strength training program. However, it’s vital that the commitment to fitness be internally motivated and that we take personal responsibility for the work we are performing and the ensuing results.
Health, vitality, and time are our most precious resources, and an efficient fitness regimen is vital to preserving all three. The method I’ve described is neither new nor revolutionary and is rapidly growing in popularity, but is still relatively obscure among vast choices in fitness programs and facilities. I strongly encourage you to seek out and explore this training method for yourself, and am confident you will find it rewarding and effective regardless of your fitness goals. There are many excellent books on the subject, and we are more than happy to help you source trainers and facilities in your area or provide guidance for a personalized workout that you can perform at home.
Pete Kinkead is the owner/operator of Body Mastery Strength Training in San Francisco. He is SuperSlow Trained & Tested, a member of the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, and is Reality Therapy Certified.
http://fourfoldhealing.com/2009/03/10/m ... ewsletter/