Two great extracts from some of the leading thinkers in the fitness field that express some of my reservations about slow training protocols on machines.
Slow protocols may well have their place but I feel they lack 'information'. Sure loading a muscle is what we want, but loading it under duress, in battle/a hunt would, I imagine, carry a whole different set of information than would muscle loading in the orderly world of Nautilus.
I appreciate the need not to confuse strength and skill, but it seems to me that in the wild and in adolescence they are largely developed in conjunction. Should we preferentially aim to fire 'synergies'?
Joanne Elphinstone "[Athletes] have often trained muscles rather than movement relationships...[t]hey often fluctuate between too much muscle tension and too little, (like an off/ on switch), instead of having a “just right” amount of muscle activity for the activity they are engaged in (a dimmer switch, or volume adjuster which increases and decreases muscle activity smoothly). The assumption in sport is that more is always better, but “more” can sometimes block movement and create inefficiency. Excess tension is the enemy of clean, smooth joint movement."
Arthur DeVany "Constantly altering the nature of the stress and load applied to the muscle, imposes a constant adaptive stress on the muscles. While it is responding to a prior stress, a new stress is imposed. How the muscle responds to this is completely unknown. It is reasonable to assume that the adaptation to the first stress is not completed before the second stress of a different nature is imposed. Thus, the first adaptation is blunted while a new one is imposed. This could work and the effects could be partly additive and partly in opposition to one another. But, it could be counterproductive; there isn't a shred of evidence one way or the other...Variation is useful. But, this notion or idea [of muscle confusion] seems to put forth an enhanced adaptation as a result of randomization. But, randomization is a noisy pattern of activity that conveys no information. Animals and wild humans do not move in a wholy random way. They follow power laws. I can see a function in following a variety of intensities and movements, but in a somewhat patterned way. The pattern is one of intermittency and a few black swan events of great intensity mixed with a variety of movements with no typical pattern".
UPDATE: A fantastic phrase from Erwen Le Corre: "Hamster fitness!" Kind of sums up my thoughts here about simply addressing single dimensional aspects such as aerobic fitness or the strength of your bicep etc.... Training should be rich in information. Context is everything. Don't get hung up on single numbers.