Want to know more about CityWide SuperSlow and resistance training?

Click below to answer specific frequently asked questions.

What is SuperSlow High-Intensity Strength Training?

SuperSlow High-Intensity Strength Training is an exercise philosophy and exercise protocol. Nautilus and MedX* founder Arthur Jones developed the theory underlying this philosophy. The Nautilus philosophy dating back to the 1970’s was to slow down the repetition speed, thereby eliminating force, the main cause of injury.

The theory, referred to as SuperSlow, was refined and developed in 1982 by Ken Hutchins, a research theorist, for use in a research project on osteoporosis sponsored by the Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries at the University of Florida Medical School. Hutchins continued to refine the slow application with over 8,000 one-on-one workouts between 1982 and 1986.

*Both are types of exercise machines.

How does SuperSlow Work?

Traditional strength training uses 2-4 seconds to complete one rep. SuperSlow uses approximately 20 seconds to complete a single rep: 10 seconds to lift the weights, 10 seconds to lower it. Slowing down the speed of movement minimizes the amount of momentum used, causing the muscles to work harder to perform the repetition.

Ultimately, each exercise is performed to the point where the muscles are fatigued beyond exhaustion, meaning the point where moving the weight is no longer possible without increased acceleration. The point of complete muscle exhaustion is reached within a two-minute time-frame per exercise. The combination of moving the weight slowly and working at a high level of intensity results in the stimulation of the growth mechanism in the muscle, leading to the building of muscle.

Correct form is paramount to keeping the working muscles isolated while controlling the speed of the repetition cycle. To maintain both the form and intensity, deep concentration and focus are needed to perform the exercise to the point of failure.

How do SuperSlow advocates define exercise?

Ken Hutchins’s definition states: “Exercise is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function, in a clinically-controlled environment, within the constraints of safety, meaningfully loading the muscular structures to inroad their strength levels to stimulate a growth mechanism within minimum time.”

What is the philosophy of SuperSlow?

The philosophy is based on a theme first conceived by Arthur Jones who said, “Rather than attempting to find out how much exercise we can tolerate we should try to find how little exercise we actually require.”

SuperSlow advocates define being “fit” as being strong and believe the safest, most effective and efficient way to building muscle is the SuperSlow approach: One-to-two full-body workouts a week, with each exercise working the muscles to failure and beyond. A minimum of 3 days is needed between workouts to allow the muscles to fully recover from the exercise. Rest and recovery is a key component to building muscles.

SuperSlow High-Intensity training is demanding in its approach. The intensity and approach have proven to produce greater strength gains in less time over a six-month study than traditional weight training.* It is work of a demanding nature that creates a stimulus that acts to produce these adaptive changes in the body.

*(Westcott, W. 1999)

Don't most experts agree that physical conditioning involves three key components: muscular strength, cardiovascular efficiency and flexibility?

Yes, and advocates of SuperSlow emphasize the importance of these factors in determining physical conditioning as well. The key here is that a single approach—the SuperSlow program—most directly accomplishes these goals.

Hutchins summarizes it this way: “Maximum muscular strength is encouraged by working maximum muscle fibers in high-intensity, low-force SuperSlow Exercise. Working maximum muscle fibers demands the application of resistance throughout a full range of motion. Full range of motion involves adequate stretching to promote and maintain functional flexibility. Working maximum muscle tissue puts greater demand on the transport system to promote increased cardiovascular efficiency. Therefore, all three components of physical conditioning are most directly addressed through the same program: SuperSlow.”

What are the overall benefits of building and maintaining muscle?

With High-Intensity Strength Training and a healthy diet you can expect to see:

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Decreased body fat
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Muscular endurance for daily functions and sports performance
  • Increase in resting metabolic rate
  • Increase in bone strength and density
  • Improved cardiovascular efficiency
  • Enhanced body shape and tone
  • Increased resistance to injury
Can I do SuperSlow with a bad back, knee or shoulder injuries, or other physical limitations?

Absolutely. In fact, SuperSlow is used in post-rehabilitation programs where strengthening the muscles safely is necessary to achieve a greater range of motion and help alleviate pain. Because you are working at such a slow and controlled pace, SuperSlow makes it the safest way to build muscle. Further, the equipment we use at CityWide SuperSlow is designed specifically for safety.

What kind of equipment is used in SuperSlow?

 CityWide SuperSlow uses state-of-the-art exercise equipment by MedX Corporation that allows full range of motion, variable resistance, minimal friction and adjustments for proper and safe positioning and alignment. The equipment has multiple settings for proper body positioning that prevents joints from locking out or to adjust for limited range of motion if needed for safety considerations.

This specialized equipment is normally found in physical therapy offices because it offers a choice of resistance in two-pound increments for a weight that is just right – not too heavy and not too light for rapid and steady progress. The unique design of the MedX equipment allows for the slow and frictionless movements difficult to achieve with other types of equipment.

How is CityWide SuperSlow different from other health clubs or gyms?

We are a personal training studio that adheres solely to the SuperSlow protocol and are the premier SuperSlow facility in Chicago.

Each one-on-one workout session is by appointment only.

CityWide SuperSlow provides an ideal exercise environment for deep concentration and focus without mirrors, loud music or conversation during your workout. Because we define exercise based on strength training and being fit as determined by muscle strength, you will not find any aerobics equipment in our studio.


What about cardio?

Additional cardiovascular activity is not necessary. During a SuperSlow workout, cardiovascular exercise is performed. Increased demands placed on the muscles mean that those muscles need more oxygen. That oxygen is delivered via the oxygenated blood pumped from the heart. The harder the muscles work, the harder the heart must work to supply oxygen, resulting in an increased heart rate and blood volume. Ultimately, this results in enhanced cardiovascular efficiency. In addition, increasing muscle mass increases the body’s resting metabolism, resulting in more calories burned at rest.

We encourage our clients to participate in the activities that they enjoy for the pleasure that activity offers or the physical goals they may set for themselves. Their exercise “needs” are met completely with SuperSlow High-Intensity strength training. Our clients use the benefits of SuperSlow as a way to perform better on the golf course, make those bike rides or hikes a little easier to complete, or lift the carry-on bag to the overhead bin on an airplane. Further “sport-specific” training may be needed to enhance an individual’s performance on the bike, or to run a race, or swim the distance. The fitness needs for a fit body to optimally perform daily tasks (functionality) and to benefit from the results of strong muscles come from the SuperSlow workout once or twice a week. No other form of “exercise” is needed.

Should I do a warm up before my workout?

Because you are working slowly from the moment you begin and there is no explosive movement, the first few repetitions allow time to send a message to the joints, ligaments and tendons to lubricate and warm up.

We don’t recommend any steady state activity as a warm up before the workout as preheating will sap your strength and compromise your workout. Overheating interferes with and will decrease the intensity of the overall effort necessary for maximum benefit from a high-intensity workout.

What about stretching before beginning an exercise session?

While stretching feels great, it is unnecessary for much of the same reason explained in the warm-up question.

How often should I work out?

The SuperSlow exercise program works with one or two workouts a week, allowing a minimum of two to three day’s rest in between workouts. In the beginning, we recommend twice a week, if possible. For women who have smaller muscles and recover faster, twice a week is ideal on an ongoing basis. For men, it depends on how long the muscles take to recover and the degree of intensity in each workout. That may be once a week, every five days, or twice a week. You can achieve excellent results with once a week.

So, I only have to workout 20 minutes a week to be fit?*

Yes, but you must be willing to work hard. Your SuperSlow results depend on you.

To get the great results that SuperSlow training can provide you must be willing to work hard during each exercise. While your trainer will guide you, ultimately the results that you produce largely depend upon the intensity with which you are willing to work.

Can I do strength training at CityWide while I'm pregnant?

Yes. In the absence of obstetric or medical complications, pregnant women can and should continue to strength train during pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, pregnant women should engage in weight bearing exercise of moderate intensity weekly. Strength training is one of the best forms of exercise as it prepares a woman’s body for the weight gain accompanied by pregnancy as well as for the physical challenges a new mom faces.

Certain considerations should be taken into account to accommodate the laxity of the joints that occurs as a result of hormonal changes, but with the proper education and guidance, a safe and effective SuperSlow routine can be developed and personalized for pre and post-natal clients.

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