The Key: Part 1


The Key:Part 1

original super slow bookI own a blue book. No, not the Kelly Blue Book that one might look up the value of a used car in, but an original blue covered The ULTIMATE Exercise Protocol: Super Slow by Ken Hutchins. This is the first edition of what would later become the Super Slow Technical Manual and eventually ROE Volume 1. Josh Trentine picked this up for me as a gift during one of his visits to Ken’s studio, and I must say it is one of my prized possessions.

I mention this collectible of mine because it made me realize an important constant that has been in place within our protocol over the last 30 years. Unfortunately, I don’t think this constant has ever been (nor may it ever be) appreciated for its profundity both as a guiding principle and as an intellectual exercise/research tool. I would go as far as to say that those whom interpreted this constant correctly “got it”, while those that didn’t blamed their lack of success with the protocol on the protocol and the speed of movement. Hey, people want something to blame.

The “blue book” that I mentioned above has in its appendix “Super Slow Protocol Second Edition –Ken Hutchins- 1989”. As the title details, this is the protocol paper that explains how to execute the protocol properly. While technical, it is meant for the lay person to read and comprehend and serves as an unparalleled introduction to properly performed strength exercise. A protocol paper of this nature has been included in each version of the technical manual, although its contents change slightly with each edition. Through all the incarnations of this protocol paper one area of text has remained constant.

On The Importance of a Question

The second paragraph of the protocol paper starts off thus, “As a beginner, ask yourself, ‘How slowly can I move, yet not stop?“‘. I’m half inclined at this point to stop writing and to see if you can guess where I’m going with this, but I want to dissect this simple question and try and make an argument for why it may be the most important thing Ken ever wrote as it related to exercise execution (and maybe the most important thing he ever wrote period). How someone responds to this question is very telling of their capacity to comprehend exercise.

First off, the most important thing about this question is that it is a question. The words would not hold the same instructional power if they were said as a mere statement such as, “Move as slowly as you can without stopping”. A statement of this nature is likely to get completely ignored or at the very least, misinterpreted. A question, on the other hand, is an undervalued concentration tool to focus the mind. I get a lot of inquiries about how to mentally prep oneself for an intense workout, but no technique I know of works better than a properly posed question. If you look closely the next time you are asked a questioned that demands an answer that is not reliant on rote memorization, you’ll notice the first thing that happens is that you don’t have an answer. This creates a gap that makes you become intensely present momentarily. With this information in mind, what better way exists to get a novice to follow a set of instructions than to ask them to do something that forces them to focus? If you look again at the question Ken posed, it really is very brilliant.

This isn’t the type of question that has a conceptual answer however (although you must engage the intellect). You must present the answer physically moment after moment throughout the duration of the exercise. Lapses in concentration will result in a failed answer. The subject is being asked to investigate experience on a number of different levels in order to completely answer the question. In the second part to this article I will dissect each word in the question and show why its structure might just be the key realizing the real objective.

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by Al Coleman

15117886_sWhen we speak of the Real vs The Assumed Objective in exercise, we speak of both its theoretical and practical implications. The theoretical side is necessary in order to develop and refine all of the components of the protocol. The practical side speaks mainly to the subject’s mental intention.

A subject’s intention when commencing an exercise is the single most important consideration in exercise. The subject’s expression of the protocol is born from his/hers intention. A subject who has comprehended the Real Objective intellectually and is still reservedly carrying it out has an exercise expression that stands out in stark contrast to the subject who intellectually and viscerally comprehends it. In my 13 years of practicing this protocol, the former out weigh the latter in droves. In fact, it is quite rare to come across the latter.

To those who think you might fit into the first category, don’t worry because the fix is easy as I shall explain to you in the following experiment in intention.

Pick an exercise and choose a load that would be considered too light for you. Pretend that you are an instructor who must enter the exercise as a last resort and demonstrate its performance for a subject who just doesn’t seem to be catching on. You are extremely attentive to ensure that force is built so gradually that weight stack barely cracks. From there you are careful not to speed up and to continue to perform what feels like a 10 second positive. You hide the upper turnaround and are careful to perform the negative in a uniform fashion. You start and finish another cycle so that you can show a proper lower turnaround. Surmising that this is sufficient for the subject to witness, you stop. Take note of how that demonstration felt. Did it feel easy? It theoretically should have, correct? After all the load was extremely light relative to what typically challenges you.

surprised-babyI’m going to now tell you what you more than likely experienced with that sub maximal demonstration. You probably were shocked by how hard those two repetitions felt. While they weren’t incredibly taxing, they made your musculature uncomfortable to a surprising degree. Your limbs probably quivered an embarrassing amount during the performance and they continued to do so after you finished. What’s this all about?

Before I answer that question, allow me to quickly reveal the unfortunate fact that this is most likely the manner in which all of the practitioners who in the past have professed lackluster results with this protocol have performed it. Again, there was no intellectual/visceral comprehension of the intention.

The things that occur as you perform the above demonstration occur because you enter into it with no real intention to fatigue yourself rapidly. You haven’t primed the nervous system to carry out what you know is the intellectual objective. You were performing a demonstration and as such were carrying it out in a restrained fashion. As previously mentioned, it is revealing that this demonstration is the manner in which most people actually carry out their training!

Although it is difficult to wrap one’s head around, it must be remembered that theyour-intent-influences-your-actions-which-influences-your-results comes first with the protocol being built around that. You look to the protocol as a system of standardization and to make sure that inroad isn’t escaping, but you must first intend to inroad to drive the system. To check this, carry out the described demonstration but instead intend right from the first second you engage the movement arm that you will make sure that you are trying to dump all of your reserves without delay. Don’t concern yourself with the fact the resistance is too light. Concern yourself with the things that could be constraining. Be on the lookout for any minor lateral shifts of any body part. Consciously try to produce force in a pure linear fashion (compound movements) or a pure arc like fashion (rotary movements). If you produce force correctly, the excessive vibration you encounter will be minimized (exceptions withstanding). Your movement will smooth out, you’ll feel a simultaneous relaxation of the extraneous structures, and your breathing will free up.

You obviously won’t be going to failure with this experiment, but it will teach you a great deal about the subtle nature of what the success of this protocol hinges on. If you are an instructor, you may have a subject that is numerically doing the protocol correctly, but something just seems “off”. This subtle distinction in intention is the hair breadths deviation between “off” and “on”.

Please test this out.

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“Core” – A Deceptively Bad Exercise Term –

124 comments written by Joshua Trentine

—A Deceptively Bad Exercise Term—

by Ken Hutchins

Herein, I point out a glaring oversight on my part. It seems to have escaped the notice of others, but it annoys me greatly. Therefore, I must expose it.

In The Renaissance of Exercise—Volume I (ROE-I), I include a chapter entitled Linguistic Distinctions. Therein, I discuss—among other questionable terms—the usage of “core” as in “core exercises” or as in “the core muscles” or as in “working the core.”

(Note that “core exercises” is appropriate if one means “the most basic exercises for the body,” but it is inappropriate if one means, “exercises for the core muscles.”)

In ROE-I, I criticize that we do not need another term for the fuselage of the body as we already have “trunk” and “torso.” I also note the blind disregard for the often-required appendicular links to the torso that is seemingly promoted by the usage of “core.”

In a later edition of that chapter that I have only privately disseminated, I additionally snapped that the human body is not an apple. This is a weak slam on my part, and I remain—until recently—somewhat dissatisfied with the earlier criticisms, although they do suffice on their own merit.

So here comes the big showdown!

The body, indeed, has a core. And we appropriately apply “core” as in “the body’s core temperature.” And we appropriately refer to the earth’s core in a similar manner.

But what about the core musculature? There is no such thing unless you are referring to those few visceral structures that possess smooth (involuntary) muscle. One cannot volitionally contract (or relax) the muscle of the gut, the bladder, or the uterus (joked about in medical school as “the king of the muscles”).

And I doubt that one is able to contract the liver or the spleen or the pancreas or the lungs or the kidneys or the adrenals with the MedX Core Machines. Obviously, this stupidity was not considered by MedX® when they chose their marketing verbiage, although it slipped my notice as well. Of course, to me, the term stank, but until November 2013, I had not truly tracked its scent to its foul source.



Super Squats

25 comments written by Kristina

Josh recently did some consulting with a 43 year old female.  Check out her awesome progress below!  We are considering offering phone consult services for orthodox strength exercise.


Hi Josh,

IMG955416I’ve competed in Bodybuilding and Figure and at 43 years old I have been training on and off for over 15 years and I am still learning. I’m fully aware your expertise is around RenEx and although I have been exposed to RenEx methods and techniques, I train at a conventional gym with a traditional bodybuilding program.

That being said, I wanted to thank you for the invaluable training advice that you gave me. You asked me specifically what I was doing for my training and I gave you my program. Your initial response was that I was most likely concentrating way too much on the reps and not nearly enough on executing perfect form.

You also said that I’m probably taking longer than usual rest periods to recover and that performing that one exercise was most likely taking me approximately 15 minutes. You adjusted my program.

The result: I performed 72 reps in those same 15 minutes that I once needed to perform 42 reps thereby producing way more mechanical work.

Progress: After 5 weeks, Before– 145# squats for 6 reps After– 160# squats for 51 reps.

I’m no longer intimidated by the amount of weight; my last rep is executed just as good if not better than my first rep. I would have never thought that shifting my focus away from reps and solely concentrating on form would produce more reps.

I’ve made a huge jump in my deadlifts and I know that is because of the changes you have made to my leg training.

On a totally unrelated note I injured my shoulder about 10 years ago and have not been able to perform certain shoulder exercises and 90% of chest exercises. It was painful just to reach the top shelf in my pantry or curl my hair. After about 6 -8 weeks of performing the shoulder exercises you recommended, I’m performing 100% of all chest exercises with little to no pain in my shoulder.

I’ve had many trainers throughout over the years and I can say without any amount of uncertainty that you have amassed more knowledge than all of them combined! In short, your knowledge in bodybuilding is limitless; thank you so much for all that you do.

J. Gonzales.


photo 3

Name: Joshua Trentine
Age: 43
Height: 5.11 ½
Weight: Off Season 220 Competition 202
Location: Cleveland Ohio

How did you get started with body building?

Strength training for football at age 13.

Where does your motivation for bodybuilding come from and how does your body art relate?

Let’s start out with the premise that we were designed perfect, that we were born to be perfect; of course this is an ideal and even those who appear in such a way will never believe they are perfect, so we have an ideal and something that can never be reached.

Now this is fine unless you are me, I have an extremist personality, call it obsessive if you will and an attempt to be “perfect” is only troublesome for my way of being. For my body art and note that I considered my muscularity and balance an art; I consider my posing and stance to be art, I consider the tools which I build my body with as art and therefore I also consider RenEx art and all of these things work together as one when a final product is presented.

You will not find a bigger fan of classic bodybuilding than me. I love the greats: Zane, Reeves, Nubret and Bob Paris. While I admire them and even sometimes imitate them I don’t want to be them, I want to be Josh. I want to be my own unique “body” of work.

Josh derives inspiration from the great Steve Reeves.

Josh derives inspiration from the great Steve Reeves.

And times change, obviously different social norms exist now compared to the 50′s when Reeves was prime. Not only do times change but so does the body, especially if you have ever played contact sport. Even someone with a good aesthetic form like me can lose some symmetry with injury, age and just life happening. Again, this isn’t great for my personality type, so in my mind how do I forever correct my symmetry issues?
The answer: to be completely asymmetrical!

I know this sounds nuts, but it is my art, my expression and I think it is possible that with a brilliant tattoo artist the tattoos can enhance the physique or they could make it worse in the wrong case.

There are more layers to what I do than what meets the eye. My Tattoos are designed to flow with my physique, just like my posing or my RenEx machines, it’s my art, and it’s my expression.
Let me add one more bit to my answer

My brother is my tattoo artist, a true genius when it comes to artistic expression even though he has never been a bodybuilder he can advise me better than anyone in this regard. He is in many ways opposite of me and is many things I could never be but with our personalities being nearly opposite I’ve always thought the real ideal man would be a combination of both him and me. Us working together on this is the closest that I can ever get to my ideal expression of male form, is that not what bodybuilding is all about?

josh flex pro pic

So in the end, my motivation is found in my vision of the ideal man and express all aspects of my body of art.

simple row joshWhat is workout routine has worked best for you?

RenEx. www.ren-ex.com

(*sidenote from Team RenEx: A workout routine of Josh’s will be shared in the future )

rawmnivoreWhat is your diet like?

I predominately consume a raw food diet. Most people assume this means raw fruits and vegetables, this is not what that means. I call myself a rawmivore meaning I eat all foods raw. This includes: chicken, beef, liver, fish, eggs, milk, cheese fruits and vegetables.


I have been competing in natural body building competitions for 22 years, here are some the highlights:
1st place 2003 Natural Mr.Ohio
1st place 2004 natural mr olympus
1st place 2005 MR.OLYMPUS
7th 2013 Pro Natural Mr. Universe
Represented Team USA at the 2005 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in Paris, France.

When you try to cut do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?

I compete in the late summer or fall and during these seasons I enjoy being active outdoors riding my bike, swimming and taking long walks.

josh pro pic back

What supplementation do you use?

Eating fresh whole raw food obviates the need for me to use supplementation.

Favorite Quotation:

“No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
– Socrates

photo 1[1]


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeet Ken Dery, who has been a dedicated Overload Fitness client for the last eight years – who had a stroke a couple years ago…

We chose Ken as our “Client of the Month” for March.

Here are a few words from Josh Trentine on Ken’s time with Overload:

“Ken has been a great pleasure to train. I really enjoy his energy and positivity. Even after he had a stroke, he has built his leg press strength far beyond that of an average man half his age.”

Thank you, Ken, for all of your hard work thoughout the years! Here’s to many more!

“I used to have back spasms maybe twice each year and I would go down for two or three days. Ultimately those occurrences began to escalate. I first joined Overload to strengthen my lower back. After six or seven months of Overload strength training, I finally improved. The occurrences of those difficult spasms continued to improve to the point that I might have a flare up once a year. I was (and still am) a believer.

However, that is not why I was selected as Overload’s “Client of the Month”! That distinction has come for other reasons. Out of nowhere in October 2010, I had a stroke. My entire right side was basically gone: unable to lift my arm, unable to stand or walk.

After 17 days in acute in-patient rehab, I could walk reasonably with a cane, but was far from normal. I happened to bump into Overload founder Josh Trentine and we talked about my condition. It was evident that besides the excellent outpatient occupational and physical therapy that I was receiving, Josh felt Overload strength training would help my recovery immeasurably. He was absolutely right!

Today I no longer do either occupational or physical therapy, but I do Overload every week. My strength is back to greater than it was before the stroke. I am back to skiing and am able to enjoy everything that I could ever do before. That is my Overload story!”

– Ken Dery

Talk about an inspiration for us all.



David Hammond’s 25.4 Pound Success Story

4 comments written by Joshua Trentine

I wanted to share yet another SuperSlow success story, they are out there.

That being said, I still believe the best results from training in such a manner will be had when using equipment built for such a purpose. Although I do find it interesting that such results were had without.

One of the reasons I’m building up these cases is that I do want to show people that results have been had this way. We have seen it many times at our studios and helped bodybuilders get on stage with great success. We have had the success with a generic program right out of the technical manuals. We have seen very good results from this.

Today taking some from the past and bringing forward with what I’ve learned with RenEx technology I now believe muscle growth can happen much faster than I had previously thought.

We will continue to share more history with the different variations of this training and then what we’ve seen as of late.

bigger muscles in 42 days

Another successful muscle gain story from Ellington Darden’s, “Bigger Muscles in 42 Days!”

David began the course weighting 186 and finished at 221.4 pounds.  He gained 25.4 pounds in 42 days for an average increase of 4.2 pounds per week.

David’s was also impressive since he was a teenager who had been training only a little over a year.

David Hammond measurements.

David Hammond




2 comments written by Kristina

Josh was tagged in yet another Facebook post last week…

motivationMattias Pettersson:

Thanx to Joshua Trentine. I’ve had some problems motivating my self to work out lately (almost to the day 3 months since the last workout apart from a little rehab). But after visiting your site last night and also watching a few exercise clips on Youtube I felt the motivation flowing again. Today I had my best workout since last fall. I went all out in seated leg curls, hip abductions, legpress, shurgs, compound row, weight assisted dips and low back. This workout was the kick in the butt I needed to get going again 😀



On March 9th Steven Smith tagged Josh in a post on Facebook… I believe you’ll find this interesting…

Thank you Joshua Trentine for all of your promotion of super slow training. 


Since starting a month ago, I have already lost an inch on my waist, while adding .5 inches to my shoulder girth. I decreased my workouts from 3x per week to 2x per week and feel well rested and restored, whereas before I felt fatigued almost all of the time.

As I learn more about human physiology, I keep learning how damaging CNS burnout is to the body. I feel very strongly that keeping from CNS burnout or injury is the key to any successful program. The fact that you are able to sustain training and keep from injury is reason enough.


Steven plans on giving us after pictures – we can’t wait to see them!



SuperSlow | Keith Whitley | Dr. Gonyea’s Cats

54 comments written by Joshua Trentine

So, this continues to be a fun little series of blogs.  Like I said, I find these SuperSlow experiments interesting and motivating, especially in a time where I now believe muscular growth can happen much faster than I even thought before.

I will continue to post people’s experiences from the past and in the end provide what I think is the best way to integrate a  system of training that includes some from the past with what we’ve learned since.



bigger muscles in 42 daysA few excerpts from Ellington Darden’s, “Bigger Muscles in 42 Days!”

Effective overload best occurs when the positive or lifting phase of each repetition is performed in 10 seconds.  The negative or lowering phase is done in 5 seconds.

– Work between 4 and 8 repetitions.  When 8 or more repetitions are done in good form, add 5 percent more resistance at the next workout.
– Perform each repetition in the SuperSlow style.  Lift the weight slowly in 10 seconds.  Lower the weight smoothly in 5 seconds.
– Keep your workouts brief.

In other words, each repetition should take at least 15 seconds.

Such style of training is called SuperSlow.

SuperSlow training is the most efficient way to stimulate your muscles to grow larger and stronger.  It’s the best way to get bigger.

Why is SuperSlow training better than faster styles of lifting?  Because it eliminates most of the momentum from each repetition.  Eliminating the momentum better isolates the involved muscles and makes the exercise harder.

Remember, the harder and the more targeted the exercise is, the better.

SuperSlow Techniques
Pretend that you are preforming leg extension.  You complete four repetitions and begin a fifth.

You sense that your speed is bogging down.  You remain determined to maintain uniform speed.  However, the speed grows slower as you become weaker.

Realize that as your musculature becomes weaker, it becomes feeble.  Often is can still lift the movement arm, but only very slowly.  Such slow movement and muscle feebleness dull sense of position and movement.

Even though you are moving, you do not perceive it.  You must actively sense or feel to detect movement.

Deliberately refuse to accept the idea that you are no longer moving  Believe in it.  Have the mind-set that even though the muscle is incapable, I’m going to complete the movement anyway!

In many cases, upward movement will continue and you’ll complete the repetition.  Give it time.  Whittle on it.  The repetition may require 30 seconds to finish.

Once the repetition completes, smoothly lower in and try another.

Never, never give up if additional positive movement is possible.  And then stop only after you’ve spent another 10 to 15 seconds trying for an extra fraction of an inch.

These helpful hints above were paraphrased from Ken Hutchins’ revised book, SuperSlow: The Ultimate Exercise Protocol, which I highly recommend.  Ken has supervised over 10,000 SuperSlow workouts, and no one understands the philosophy and techniques better than he does.

SuperSlow Cats
cat lifting
Dr. Bill Gonyea has lifted weights for 30 years.  He also is professor and chairman of the department of anatomy at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  For many years he has worked with medical students who are interested in exercise and muscle enlargement.

Recently, Dr. Gonyea reported the results of a six-year study with cats.  The study was published in the Journal of Applied Sport Science Research (3:85-92, 1989).  The findings will interest you.

Sixty-two cats were operantly conditioned, using a food reward, to lift weights with their right forelimb by performing a wrist flexion exercise.  The cats reached through a tunnel in one side of the clear plastic enclosure and grasped a bar, which was attached to weights via a cable and pulley system.  The cats then flexed their wrists against the bar, which lifted the weights.

The cats trained once a day, five days per week.  All the cats began training lifting 100 grams.  The weight was increased as the cats progressed.  When a cat failed to make progress after a predetermined period, the muscles of the right and left forelimbs were removed and weighed.

The cats were not forced to perform by punishment.  Thus, the intensity and speed of training was dependent upon each cat’s personality and motivation for food.  This in turn resulted in a broad range of performance values and muscle mass increases, which was accounted for with appropriate statistical analyses.

These statistical analyses revealed the following conclusions:

– The cats that eventually trained with the heaviest weights developed larger muscle masses in their exercised forelimbs compared to those that employed lighter weights.
– The cats that used slower lifting speeds developed larger muscles than those using faster lifting speeds.
– In the final analysis, the slower and heavier the lifting, the greater was the muscle mass increase.

Dr. Gonyea is convinced that bodybuilders can learn something from his study with cats.  Bodybuilders should understand that lifting heavy weights slowly is the best way to increase the muscular size of a cat.  And it is also the best way, he believes, to increase the muscular size of a human.

Of course you should already know this by now, right?

Muscle and Fat
Keith Whitley finished the program weighing 280.3 pounds, which was up 34.3 pounds from his starting body weight of 246.  His average weight gain was 5.7 pounds a week.

keith whitley before after

keith measurements