Acute Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, and RPE Responses During Super Slow vs. Traditional Machine Resistance Training Protocols Using Small Muscle Group Exercises

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Acute cardiovascular and perceptual responses to Super Slow resistance training (SS) are not well understood. This study compared blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) between SS and traditional machine (TM) protocols. Participants (n = 20) completed three sessions of elbow flexion (EF) and knee extension (KE). Session 1 consisted of determining 1RM for EF and KE and a familiarization trial for the SS technique. Sessions 2 and 3 were counterbalanced, with subjects completing three sets of SS (10 seconds concentric, 5 seconds eccentric per rep, 40% 1RM) and TM (2 seconds concentric, 4 seconds eccentric per rep, 65% 1RM). Paramount resistance training equipment was used for both exercises. Peak HR was recorded for each set, with recovery HR taken between sets after 3 minutes of rest. Blood pressure was taken after 5 minutes of seated rest, after each set, before sets 2 and 3, and at 2 minutes post set 3. Ratings of perceived exertion for active musculature were obtained three times per set. Although systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) responses were not significantly different between SS and TM for EF or KE, SBP (SS and TM combined) was significantly lower during EF and was significantly higher during KE than resting BP. Diastolic BP (SS and TM combined) was not significantly different from resting BP for EF or KE. Peak HR was significantly greater during TM (vs. SS) for EF and KE. Ratings of perceived exertion were also significantly greater during TM for EF and KE. Even though SBP was greater for SS and TM combined during KE, comparing SS and TM revealed minimal differences in BP. This suggests that, when performing small muscle group exercises with lighter weight at a slow speed, either SS or TM would be appropriate for individuals to whom strength training is not contraindicated.