Negative Thoughts: Time Well Spent (Part 2)

7 comments written by Joshua Trentine

Negative Thoughts: Time Well Spent (Part 2)
by General Tso

I hear this argument constantly.

“I failed under a load using a faster protocol at a lower /higher/same weight. Therefore…”

Perhaps you did. 

But perhaps the resistance your muscles encountered was so inappropriate that they failed not because of profound inroad but instead because the resistance in a given position was too heavy.  This is a much larger problem when training slowly because momentum doesn’t carry you over the sticking points. Now we take this conclusion and run with it. 

Faster = better. 

NO, look closer. We’re working on understanding this better.

What should be considered and investigated is what the musculature encountered with regards to the quality of resistance.  Many years ago, Robert Francis had access to a Medx lumbar extension machine.  He noted that subjects moving at slower protocol speeds tended to inroad 15 to 20 percent deeper than those exercising at faster protocols. 

He further noted that it took an additional 30 seconds to reach positive muscular failure.  He referred to this extra time as “time well spent.” 

I agree.

Further it should be understood that slower exercise protocols allow the musculature to be less affected by the byproducts of fatigue and thus allows for increased time under load or positive movement against resistance.  Keep in mind that this testing was conducted on a 1.4 cam suitable for a variety of protocols, (a rarity) and the slower protocol produced a 20% deeper inroad. 

Now, imagine what comparing a cam designed for slow protocols could do under ideal conditions. 

I intend to find out soon.

And for anyone really paying attention, consider how “off” your comparison of protocols are when attempting to compare slow protocols on cams that are mathematically incorrect and designed for faster protocols.  This makes a bad situation worse, and truly not worth delving into in the first place, let alone posting your results and leading others down a dead end street. 

It’s “Intensity of circumstance” if you will. 

Cams are damn complex things when you get beyond the basics. 

I’m not talking about designing them; I’m talking about their effects on the muscles.  How do they change the muscles “environment”.  You can build them to provide too much fall-away, just as much as too little.  Regardless, where you end up at the termination of the set is affected drastically by the manner in which the muscles receive the resistance in the first place.

 Hell, add an adjustable hard end stop to a movement arm and “squeeze” against it.

The effects are profound. 

Sometimes it’s so profound you have to change the cam altogether.  All you did was change one criteria.  Make the resistance linear, exponential, and logarithmic and you change the intensity of circumstance again.  These are known variables that you are manipulating. 

Do you really think it’s as easy as comparing going fast versus going slow?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Scott Springston February 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I think my little ” experiment” that I performed on Darden’s forum illustrated how inferior free weights and even Nautilus are for Renaissance type training. Of course I’ve never been on a Hutchins machine but it seems that the resistance varies way to much with free weights for that to be of any use with Ren-X sets and even many Nautilus machines ( like i use) have to much friction and the cams aren’t designed properly to allow for an even feel through out the movement. That being said I still want to understand how to do Renaissance training anyway. I’m understanding better the meaning of slow yet hard and fast but now I’m stuck on this congestion stuff. Is pump what you consider to be congestion?? Please explain.


avatar Joe A. February 23, 2011 at 6:08 pm


I think Josh has said this a few times, but it is so true: in many ways, equipment dictates protocol. So while the free weight exercises and Nautilus machines you describe may not be ideal for RenEx, there are still ways to use them productively (and not so productively). Once you know the limitations of the tools available, you can design your exercises around those limitations.

For instance, regarding the biceps curl videos, you can adjust your style of performance to “deal with” sticking points and drop-off in resistance (think Bill DeSimone’s Moment Arm Exercise). That goes for your machines too. Alter your performance in accordance to the tools. You still will be able to apply much of what is being conveyed here (the end result just might look a little different).

My suggestion would be to not get too hung up on the little details; grab a hold of the concepts presented and find ways to best put them into practice with your set-up (I don’t mean to imply that you are not already doing this). If/when you ever have a chance to experience the ideal scenario for RenEx, my guess is that the intricacies of the protocol will become clear.


avatar Joshua Trentine February 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm


Your question about the “pump” cannot be answered in short form.

Look for an entire article dealing with your question next week.



avatar Joshua Trentine February 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Exactly Joe.

By definition Renaissance Exercise does not exist without the Renaissance technology.

I mentioned this before, the vintage Nautilus machines do not meet Renaissance standards , but that doesn’t mean I cannot get a GREAT workout on a low frictioned Nautilus Decline press or a retrofit plate-loaded Nautlius Bicep.

I have also found that the more advanced you become with the Renaissance protocol the better you can make do with sub-par equipment. Renaissance provides a platform for learning intensity.


avatar Travis Weigand February 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm

For those that wish to attempt to apply this protocol to conventional equipment these last two articles have been very helpful in explaining why you’re coming up short. And if you’re looking for the short and sweet answer, read Josh’s last paragraph in the comment above. Couldn’t be worded any more clearly.


avatar Joshua Trentine February 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm


You are right on the money. Jut to be clear I did not write the article Negative Thoughts, this 4 part article was submitted by an anonymous writer.


avatar Scott Springston February 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Yea, I’m finding I can do what I believe to be a close version of a Renaissance set on some of my machines which just seem to be better designed for the REN. thinking but others are just way off base. I sure wish I could try a Hutchins machine to see in person what a proper machine would feel like. Then I might be able to modify mine to resemble the real thing but I won’t be traveling to Ohio any time soon, ha ha..All of us not able to go to Joshua’s place can only guess what we are missing out on.


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