Muscle-Building Rep Speed
Slower reps can be a great enhancer when used for phases now and then, or in conjunction with sets of standard speed reps. in fact, using slow reps is one of the intensity tactics I recommend in Home Gym Handbook.
Even so, the standard two/two cadence (2 seconds up/2 seconds down) is the way to go most of the time - if your reps per set are around 8. It allows you to use heavy weights without momentum, and if you hit failure at around 8 reps, you keep the muscle under tension for 32 seconds, which is about perfect to anaerobic stimulation without too much fatigue product accumulation.
That's one reason slow-mo reps seem more intense - because they cause more fatigue products, such as lactic acid, to pool in the working muscles. Do they work the fibers a well as two/two?
That's hard to say and may depend on the muscle. Some, such as quads, forearms and calves, seem to thrive on longer tension times. Others that aren't as used to lactic acid buildup, however, are more susceptible to fatigue due to rapid pooling of that fatigue product, which can cause failure before the muscle fibers are optimally taxed.
The solution is to use a variety of rep speeds - or at least a variety of times under tension. When you think about it, rep speed is just another way to increase the time under tension. For example, although I recommend using a two/two cadence most of the time, the majority of trainees use about a one/one cadence. Watch people in the gym and time them for yourself. Multiply that by 8 reps and you have only 16 seconds of time under tension - not enough for optimal growth stimulation.
Could that be the reason most people's gains come slowly? I think it's definitely a factor.
When you're forced to count the two/two cadence for all 8 reps, the time under tension increases significantly - along with muscle gain, and if you use a four/four cadence for only 6 reps, the muscle remains under tension for 48 seconds. That's three times as long, which can be a good stimulus, but remember the fatigue produce factor. A somewhat shorter time under tension - 20 to 30 seconds - can also trigger muscle growth via maximal fiber output without too much fatigue produce accumulation.
Varying a muscle's time under tension is one reason pyramiding poundages is such a popular technique.
If you start a set using a weight you can do 10 reps with using a two/two cadence and you add weight so you reps fall to 8, then 6, you get a different time under tension for each set - 40 seconds, 32 seconds, and 24 seconds, respectively.
Another alternative is higher or lower reps on different exercises for a bodypart, like bench presses for the chest, then use higher reps on the stretch and contracted position movements, such as cable flyes and/or dumbbell flyes, to increase the target muscle's time under tension.
Stretch and Range of Motion
I don't believe in an exercise range of motion.
I believe everyone has a specific range of motion he or she should work within, especially beginners.
However, I think that specific range increases with proper training - or at least it should if the trainee incorporates stretch position exercises properly.
A muscle should be stretched slightly past the normal range to allow that to happen as well as for a number of other reasons, including better anabolic receptor response, a loosening of the muscle fiber encasement to allow for more growth, and an increase in hormonal output, such as IGF-1.
As for the myotatic (stretch) reflex, you can activate it with a quick but gentle reversal of movement from the stretch position - no bouncing. For example, if the bench is set for incline curls so that the dumbbells pull the biceps only slightly past their normal range of motion, you should get sufficient stretch to activate the reflex and proved the muscle and strength building benefits.
If you're to trigger the myotatic reflex with plyometrics, however, yes, stored energy may cause less fiber activation - if you all your form to go astray. I'm not a big fan of plyometrics because it's easy to injure yourself, although such exercise can be beneficial in strength training and for some athletes.
With POF (Positions of Flexion) training
you use the stretch position as the myotatic reflex activator, and there should be no bounce along the range of motion. I've stressed that you only need a quick, non-pause reversal of movement. That's what causes more fibers to contract. Russian research has shown that such passive stretching can enhance contraction, not reduce it.
Supersets for Super Growth
The reason the abbreviated aftershock style of training
is so effective is that it increases capillarization, enhances anabolic hormone release and the number of receptors on the target muscle, and triggers optimum fiber recruitment. In other words, your muscles blow up like balloons in only a few sets.
Plus, if you structure it right with specific exercises and use appropriate poundages, you can also vary the time under tension so you have one of the most efficient mass boosting routines available.
Aftershock training has a number of variations, including Isolation Aftershock and Compound-Isolation Aftershock. They differ in that htey use the POF exercises in different sequences for a variety of muscle building effects.
For example, the the arm routines this questioner mentioned have you superset a stretch position movement with a midrange movement. The triceps routine is overhead extensions supersetted with close grip bench presses or dips, and the biceps program is incline dumbbell curls supersetted with undergrip chins. You get target-muscle isolation and trigger the myotatic reflex for better fiber recruitment with the first exercise, and then you bring in synergy from other muscles with a midrange movement. That technique is one of the best ways for extreme hardgainers to use Aftershock training.
Here's how you can incorporate that style of Aftershock training for each bodypart:
Quads: sissy squats and squats
Hamstrings: stiff-legged deadlifts and leg presses.*
Calves: donkey calf raises and toes-pointed leg curls.*
* Leg presses and toes-pointed leg curls do not use the target muscles listed as prime movers, so these supersets won't be as effective as the others. If you don't see results, you may want to substitute isolation movements instead - leg curls for leg pressesin the hamstring superset and standing calf raises for toes-pointed leg curls in the calf superset. Those supersets are examples of Isolation Aftershock.
Chest: flyes and dumbbell bench presses.
Lats: pulldowns and chins.
Midback: close grip cable rows and behind the neck pulldowns.
Delts: one arm cable laterals and one arm overhead dumbbell presses.
Abs: full range crunches and incline knee-ups.
More in this can be found here:
as well as in some of the newer POF books.
Enjoy Your Lifting!