HIIT Part 3 Dr. McGuff’s SuperSlow Method

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) provides an excellent level of fitness in a condensed amount of time. Several different methods of implementing HIIT gives us a nice variety to choose from. Dr. Al Sears offers his PACE program, Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion as we discussed in this previous article:

HIIT Part 2 Dr. Sears PACE Program

The PACE program can be implemented via a variety of stationary exercise machines, bicycles, sprinting or calisthenics so it’s very versatile. You start at your level of capability and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.

Dr. Doug McGuff offers another way to implement optimal fitness with HIIT in an even more condensed time period. By profession he’s an emergency room physician but he’s been interested in exercise since his days of BMX racing at age 14.

That interest turned to studying exercise and working with everyday folks in his fitness programs for the last 11 years. In his studies he discovered the physiology behind the success of high intensity interval training.

Before you start thinking, “I cannot do this program,” hear what Dr. McGuff says. Anyone Can Do His Program. The oldest they’ve had in the program was 93, and they have folks in their 80’s now.

For you see this program adapts to your level of fitness when you enter the program. You simply start by finding your current level of capabilities. Then ask 100 % of those capabilities at the moment.

You have a built in safety switch. Your own condition will prevent you from overstressing yourself.


Here’s the basic exercise called The SUPERSLOW Method

Using weight lifting machines, start the exercise by lifting the weight very smoothly and slowly taking 2 seconds to lift the first inch and 7 more seconds to complete the movement. Then lower the weight over 7 seconds and repeat to fatigue of your muscles.

Moving the weight in this manner controls the force and protects the joints from injury because it delivers less force as you fatigue.

In contrast on an elliptical trainer you have to go faster to get a greater stimulus for adaptation. That speed increases the force on the joints that may injure the joints.


SUPERSLOW Exercise: the Big 5 Routine – These are the exercise machines to use in the workout:

Leg Press

Compound Row

Chest Press

Pull Down

Overhead Press


Videos – you can see Dr. McGuff going through the whole 12 minute workout with these machines here:

Dr. McGuff Demonstrates SuperSlow


How many times per week do you need to work out with this SuperSlow method?

That’s the great news.

In your workouts, the greater the intensity of the stress on the muscles, the less frequent the workout.

As you get stronger, you workout fewer days per week.


If you workout more, it’s actually less productive!


So if you start out at a low strength level you may need to engage in your SuperSlow program every 3-4 days. As you become stronger you must rest more between workouts because the rest period allows the muscle cells to recover and build in strength and quantity.


“Working out more frequently interferes with the adaptation response!”


So, as you improve in strength space your workouts to every 5 days until eventually you only workout once per week.

But Dr. McGuff cautions us to avoid becoming religious about the interval.

“So don’t repeat the exercises on a set schedule. When it’s time, you should feel like you’re busting at the seams. You should feel so good that you feel you could turn a car over.”

Yeah! Only 12-20 minutes per week of intense exercise provides me with the highest level of fitness. Seems almost too good to be true, but the research definitely supports this concept.

Dr. McGuff’s book, Body by Science, explains the physiology and benefits of the SuperSlow method in detail. It’s a bit technical, but well worth the read.

You may also enjoy the video of Dr. Mercola interviewing Dr. McGuff at:

Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. McGuff

Dr. Jo