Slow and Heavy: Legs and Shoulders

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

Before I start Iíd like to give you a little background. My preferred method of lifting is abbreviated training (compound lifts, heavy weights, and very little isolation work) and I was looking for a change when I picked up the Slow and Heavy tapes. This is a very different style of lifting than Iím used to.

This tape concentrates on slow reps, but multiple sets, usually 3 sets of 8 for each lift. But each rep is two counts down, six counts up and that makes it a whole lot more difficult than most lifting. I dropped my weights significantly from what I would use for standard lifting. After a very basic hi/lo warmup, itís right into bench presses and I knew from the start that I was going to be in pain. Those slow reps are killer.. Then off to pec flies and I decreased my weight again. Now put your bench at an incline and do both of them again. It looks so easy when it's written down but it was highly painful at the time. Now jump off the bench and do a set of 8 pushups two counts down, 6 counts up. Ouch!

Then off to back work. It starts with dumbbell rows. These were harder than I expected because those 6 counts up seemed endless. Pullovers were next. I didn't feel these in my back very much at all but it was a real shoulder killer and after doing them I know that this particular move will never be part of my regular lifting routine. Anything that makes my shoulders feel this bad has no place in my workout. Straight-legged dead lifts were next, once again 2 counts down, 6 up. I usually think of SLDL as mainly a hamstring exercise but at the slow speed in this tape, I felt it more in my back than I usually do. But that's it for the standard back work, after that itís on to core work.

The first exercise is the one where you lie on your belly with your arms over your head and then lift both your legs and arms off the floor. These weren't all that difficult because we do similar things in yoga. Cathe suggests adding wrist and ankle weights for more of a challenge. Planks are next, three different types Ė one on your elbows, one in the traditional upward pushup position, and one in a reverse position, Each are probably held for about 60 seconds but it seems like forever when your shoulders, triceps and pecs are so toasted from the rest of the workout.

An amusing asideÖwhile I was doing this workout, my husband was eating ice cream (Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey if you care about specifics) and offered me some. Of course I accepted the offer but my muscles were shaking so much that I almost couldn't scoop it out of the container. I was limited to one spoonful because of this mighty IOMS (immediate onset muscle soreness).

Overall? I think the good thing about the tape is that it forces good form with these slow reps. Theyíre much harder than I expected them to be. Itís also nice because it doesnít require really heavy weights to be effective. Cathe takes a lot more time between sets than in her other tapes but it's still not as long as I take between heavy sets at the gym. But it's awkward for her because she's got to kill time while resting so she spends a lot of time telling you to get some "warter." In my opinion, it's overkill for a chest workout and the back workout seemed rather light. And hanging onto the dumbbells (it's all dumbbell work, no barbell work) for the length of time it took to complete the sets was difficult because it felt like there was too much pressure between my thumb and finger. I started gripping the dumbbell with the thumb on the same side of the dumbbell as the rest of the fingers to alleviate some of the pressure. Itís very different than anything I've seen on video but did I like it? Well, as a change of pace it was sort of refreshing. It takes forever though (each tape is about an hour) and it's more bodybuilder style than basic functional fitness style. I doubt Iíll be using it as itís designed but may use it in a modified format with 2 sets instead of three and then drop either the incline or flat bench and flies to decrease the volume. And Iíd probably move the pushups to the beginning of the chest work and do more than one set.


Before I start Iíd like to give you a little background. My preferred method of lifting is abbreviated training (compound lifts, heavy weights, and very little isolation work) and I was looking for a change when I picked up the Slow and Heavy tapes. This is a very different style of lifting than Iím used to.

I liked the Legs & Shoulders workout better than the Chest & Back tape. The volume feels more appropriate because the legs and glutes are larger muscles. Cathe starts with lunges to pre exhaust the legs before she moved into the other exercises. 3 sets of 8 squats - the two counts down, 6 counts. These didnít feel as hard as the ones I do at the gym because I canít lift enough weight over my head to fully challenge my legs, even with this pace. Then weíre off to static lunges and I have to admit that doing the 2/6 count pace on these were very difficult. This may be due in part to the fact that I hate lunges. I wasnít heartbroken to find out that there were only two sets of those on each side. I noticed that Cathe was using the term "set" improperly (at least in my mind) at various times in the video. For instance, we'd be doing the standard alternating front lunges and she said we were going to do 16 sets. Well, we did 16 on each side but I still
consider that to be 16 reps, not sets. I think of sets as having a break in between them.

Then there were 3 sets of plie squats and 2 sets of 25 calf raises to finish the leg workout. There werenít any deadlifts and that surprised me but perhaps itís because theyíre in the back tape.

The shoulder workout was 3 sets of 8 for each of these...front raises, side raises, delt raises, and overhead press. With that count scheme I had to go to very light weights compared to what I usually use really wussy weights on shoulders. And it left me wondering if it's necessary to do so much shoulder work since you hit the shoulders when youíre doing chest, back, biceps and triceps work. Well, I think the overhead press is important, but I donít really know about the rest of them. But I was happy to see that in this workout she added L-flies which are important for shoulder health. And those also used the 2 counts down, 6 counts up scheme, Ouch! When she was explaining this move she said not to have your elbow pressed against your side. Thatís not how I learned this move nor how itís outlined in ďThe 7-Minute Rotator Cuff SolutionĒ so I kept my elbow lightly pressed against my side to prevent it from moving during the reps.

I like the speed on these tapes - it feels more natural to me than the speed of most other lifting tapes. I know that some people feel the longer breaks make it boring but I find I need the time to stretch before the next set.

Anne V