Answer: Fred Hahn is a book author with apparently very fragile self-esteem, a rather unimpressive physique, and a bitter grudge against Yours Truly that is driving him to snipe at me all over the internet.
Prior to September 2006, I had never heard of Fred Hahn. It was at that point that a member of the Low Carb Muscle forum mentioned Hahn's 'Slow Burn' training system. Hahn had co-authored a book about his Slow Burn training, a rehash of the old Super Slow style of weight training, with none other than Michael and Mary Dan Eades. For those unfamiliar with Super Slow training, it involves lifting a weight in a deliberately slower-than-normal fashion. Rep tempo recommendations vary among Super Slow proponents, with some Super Slow systems recommending as long as 30 seconds to raise a weight and 30 seconds to lower it.
As someone who is interested in developing functional, practical strength, I am not a big fan of Super Slow training. I endeavor to become faster and more explosive, not slower.
Furthermore, to lift the heaviest weights possible, one must develop the ability to explosively recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. When a champion powerlifter forces up a new bench press record, rest assured he's trying to get the weight up as quickly and forcefully as possible. Deliberately slowing down the movement could mean the difference between setting a new record or getting buried by several hundred pounds of iron.
Fred Hahn doesn't just stop at promoting Super Slow. He is also a proponent of low-volume training, insisting that only one set of an exercise is all that is required for optimal results. Again, I'm not a big fan of low-volume training. Both the scientific evidence and years of personal observations have shown me that volume training is superior.
Obviously, Fred Hahn disagrees with me. And he disagrees with me so strongly he felt the need to come onto my forum and repeatedly argue these points with me despite not being able to present anything resembling credible evidence. Upon arriving at the forum, Hahn proceeded to act in a most irritating and obnoxious manner.
But more on that in a moment. First, let's take a look at Hahn's latest literary effort.
Who's That Dashing Fellow in the Ramones T-shirt?
On November 15, 2007, Fred Hahn posted an article on his blog titled "Who is Anthony Colpo and should anyone care?".
Obviously Hahn cares a great deal, because he proceeded to write a 4,000 word article about me:
Thanks for the publicity Fred, really. But I must say that almost everything you wrote (save for your reluctant praise of my book The Great Cholesterol Con) is total bollocks.
Hahn Ticked Off by Lack of Red Carpet Treatment
Hahn complains that when he joined my forum he congratulated me on my book and "Rather than be gracious and courteous, [yours truly] was rude, nasty, impertinent and childish." He complains that I cannot tolerate disagreement and that I selectively pick and choose the scientific evidence supporting my contentions.
Like his shady buddy Michael Eades, Hahn selectively quotes chosen passages from my forum out of their original context in an effort to portray me in the worst possible light.
Here is a link to one of Hahn's threads at the LCM forum:
Hahn posts under the moniker 'Serious Strength', soliciting comments about HIT and his Slow Burn training system. Hahn initially does not reveal his true identity, a mode of behavior I find rather dubious. If you are going to instigate forum discussions about your own products, at least be upfront with people and let them know right from the start exactly who you are.
You'll see that, contrary to Hahn's claims, the conversation started out in a perfectly cordial manner between he and I, until I discovered that 'Serious Strength' was in fact Fred Hahn. At that point, yes, I did become miffed that Mr Hahn appeared to be acting in a less-than-open and unethical manner.
Here is another link to an LCM post about Super Slow training, with Mr Hahn chiming in on page 2 of the thread:
Obviously, Hahn and I disagree about Super Slow training. Nothing wrong with that, but I do expect those who disagree with me to present something resembling credible evidence if they wish to continue engaging me in the discussion.
You'll see from the above posts that Hahn comes onto the forum challenging me for scientific evidence and flippantly dismissing empirical anecdotal evidence for volume/fast speed training - and then ends up totally relying on anecdotal claims himself.
You'll notice that Hahn uses the old dodgey standby technique of creating straw man arguments, attributing statements to me that I have never made.
You'll note that Hahn disingenuously tries to portray traditional heavy training as Super Slow training. Repetition speed when lifting heavy weights is always slower than when lifting light weights. No matter how explosively you attempt to lift the weight, the heavy resistance limits the repetition speed. This is not to be confused with Super Slow training, which involves deliberately lifting weights at slow tempos.
Hahn also slanders researcher William Kramer and his colleagues by calling them "charlatans", but never explains why they are deserving of this term.
When I finally tire of Fred's evasive and disingenuous tactics, and issue him with the ultimatum to either present valid evidence supporting his contentions or to cease and desist with his argumentative behavior, he fails to do so. He complains that I am making it difficult for him to reply, a most bizarre claim considering the fact that I live thousands of miles away from Fred and cannot in any way physically impede him from accessing his computer keyboard.
Clearly frustrated by his own inability to mount an effective defense of his system, Hahn resorts to calling me a "close minded frightened child" and even accuses me of taking steroids.
Fred Hahn, ladies and gentleman, is the quintessential sore loser.
So much of a sore loser that, while I consider the exchange between Hahn and I to be a relatively inconsequential and trivial event, it has evidently left Fred Hahn deeply scarred. He appears to now harbor a bitter and driven grudge against me. He calls me a "jerk" on Michael Eades forum, he implores low-carb blogger Jimmy Moore to stop giving me coverage, and now has penned a 4,000 word blog post trying his darndest to convince the world what a horrible sod I am.
My advice to Fred: Grow up and get over it.
Seriously Fred, you really need to get a grip. If that brief exchange left you so scarred, so angry and resentful, then you must be a person of very low self-esteem and extremely fragile emotional character. Instead of crying all over the Internet, I suggest you go see a therapist. Get yourself an Anthony Colpo voodoo doll and shank the hell out of it if it makes you feel better, but seriously, I suggest you promptly seek professional psychiatric help.
Hahn's Untenable Training Theories
Hahn maintains that slow tempo training is every bit as effective as traditional speed training, if not better.
There is little evidence to support such a view.
Hahn strongly protests about my citation of the Keeler study, which showed poorer results for Super Slow training, arguing that the lighter weights used in the Super Slow arm of the study invalidate the results. But deliberately lifting a weight slowly inevitably reduces the amount of resistance able to be used for a given number of reps. Keeler et al structured the workout routines so that both the slow and fast training groups performed a similar amount of repetitions.
Hahn cites Westcott et al, who found greater strength and hypertrophy gains in those using a slow lifting speed. However, those using the slow speed performed 4-6 reps per set, while those in the fast-lifting groups used 8-12 reps.
First of all, I am a little uncomfortable with the fact that the only supportive research for Super Slow comes from folks (Westcott and Winnett) who profit from books promoting the concept.
Secondly, what would the results have been if the subjects in the fast lifting group used a similarly lower rep range and hence heavier weights?
According to HIT commentator Drew Baye, the percentages of RM used in the Keeler study "reflect the initial resistance selection recommendations in the second edition of the SuperSlow technical manual, page 132 of “70% of the suggestion for the standard 2/4 protocol”. The 50% of 1RM used by the SuperSlow group is approximately 70% of the 80% of 1RM used by the traditional group."
So if Baye is correct (I do not have access to the manual he refers to), then the big sin committed by Keeler et al was to faithfully abide by official Super Slow weight selection guidelines.
Hahn angrily protests that I should have thrown the Keeler study in the garbage because of its limitations. If he's going to stick with that line of argument, then he needs to take the Westcott study and deposit that in the trash also, because it too clearly had its limitations.
But Hahn is like every other dogmatist I've ever come across. The only bad evidence to folks like Hahn is that which conflicts with what he wants to believe (and what he profits from).
Funny thing about such dogmatists is that they are usually the first to accuse others of selective citation - please re-read Fred's article about me to see what I mean. In this regard, Hahn is just like his co-author Michael Eades.
Let's take a look at some other studies aside from those of Keeler and Westcott comparing slow lifting tempos with faster tempos. Hahn won't tell you about these studies, but I will.
Before we do that though, please take a close look at the following picture of Fred Hahn. This is one of the very few pictures of Fred available on the internet. Hahn is obviously a little reluctant to pull up his shirt and show us all the results of his Slow Burn system.
Fred Hahn (right).
Judging from what we can see in Fred's photo, I can certainly understand why. Hahn is not a lean nor paticularly healthy-looking individual. His skin looks pasty, his arms lack a muscular defined appearance, and there is no hint of the vascularity that characterizes lean and well-trained bodybuilders and strength athletes.
And while Hahn will no doubt become highly offended at my observations, I am not stating this to antagonize him. Quite frankly, I personally don't give a bee's butt what Hahn looks like. I am merely reporting what I see with my own eyes, and I do think his lack of leanness is interesting in light of the fact that low-volume training programs elicit a much lower calorie burn than higher volume programs. Folks, if you are going to go with lower volume weight training programs that involve only one set per exercise, then be aware that you will need to account for the reduced calorie burn by tightening up on your caloric intake. Hahn, evidently, has not done this.
OK, let's take a look at some more research.
Munn et al found that 3 sets of exercise produce twice the strength increase of one set in the early phase of training, and that training fast produced greater strength increases than training slow. However, they found no additional benefit of training with both three sets and fast contractions. The study involved 115 healthy, previously untrained subjects training 3 x week for 6 weeks with a target rep range of 6-8RM:
Neils et al compared super slow and traditional speed training, and found similar results in both groups save for superior gains in peak power in the traditional speed group:
Hatfield and Kramer found that slow lifting speeds reduced the number of reps able to be performed with a given weight, while higher lifting speeds allowed for greater peak force and power generation. While Hahn issues unfounded allegations about the integrity of these researchers, their findings support what anyone who has ever tried to lift a heavy weight in 'super slow' fashion would have observed first hand.
Accentuate the Negative?
Research comparing eccentric- and concentric-only training indicates that the eccentric (negative) portion of a lift is critical in facilitating hypertrophy gains. Concentric only regimens deliver less muscle mass gains than eccentric only routines.
Traditionally, many trainers (even those who care little for super slow training) have advised their clients to perform the negative in a slower-than-usual fashion. Recent research indicates that this advice is in need of a rethink.
Shepstone et al took healthy young men and made them train one arm with fast isokinetic eccentric contractions, the other with slow contractions. They found greater hypertrophy and strength gains at 8 weeks in arms trained with fast isokinetic eccentric contractions than with slow contractions:
Fast Lifting May Make For Stronger Bones
Weight training is commonly recommended to older adults as means for combatting bone loss and osteoporosis. Stengel et al assigned osteopenic postmenopausal women to weight training programs that involved either slow lifting or fast lifting. The program consisted of twelve-week intervals of periodized high-intensity training [70–90% 1-repetition maximum (1 RM)] intermitted with 4–5 wk of lower training intensity (50% 1 RM).
The only difference between the two groups was the movement velocity. The training protocol specified a 4-s concentric, 4-s eccentric sequence in the slow lifting group and a concentric fast/explosive, 4-s eccentric sequence in the fast lifting group.
At 12 months, the fast group maintained bone mineral density at the spine and the total hip while the slow group lost significantly at both sites. The researchers concluded "These findings suggest that power training is more effective than strength training in reducing bone loss in postmenopausal women."
Similar findings were observed after 2 years of follow up:
Fred Hahn is a Liar
In his article, Hahn claims "If a poster on his forum says anything that proves Colpo wrong, something he can't possibly refute, he edits those parts of the message out. He did it to me."
It is at this point that Hahn crosses the line and resorts to blatant lying. I do NOT and never have modified anyone else's post on my forum. Hahn makes this accusation, but presents no evidence to back it up. Hardly surprising, considering it is a total fabrication. If someone posts something on LCM that is considered spam, obscene, perverted or otherwise inappropriate by myself or another moderator, the post is removed entirely, not secretly edited as Hahn alleges.
Who is Fred Hahn, and Should Anyone Care?
Hahn writes at the end of his rant:
"I can't wait to read the response to this blog that Mr. Colpo will assuredly feverishly pen. Perhaps we will get a whole slew of insults and explitives here-to-fore not known to the English language. Maybe he'll even write an entire 50 page free PDF download all about ME this time. Let's wait and see!"
Well, you got a response Fred, although I would hardly describe my reply as feverish. And I'm sorry that I failed to deliver your much-hoped-for string of expletives and previously unknown insults. All I've done is once again outline the facts that demonstrate why your claims are untenable.
You will obviously disagree, but I think any rational person would concur that the research conducted so far simply does not support the hyperbolic claims you, Eades and others make for Super Slow-style weight training regimens.
As for a 50-page PDF about you, keep dreaming. Quite frankly, I wouldn't even begin to waste my time writing a PDF on someone like you.
The only reason I expended my efforts on folks like Eades, Taubes and their ilk, is because their metabolic advantage rantings distract a lot of people away from the true requirements of weight loss.
Thankfully, you don't have anywhere near the same degree of influence the aforementioned authors do, so I won't be wasting valuable time dedicating a new PDF to you. Your overall impact in the strength training community is very limited. Folks like Poliquin, Simmons, Pavel, etc continue to attract far more attention and acknowledgment than you could ever dream of. Only a very small portion of the weight training community uses Super Slow. Not surprising, considering there is so little evidence to warrant its use.
So who is Fred Hahn? He appears to be a petty, angry, vindictive individual who harbors a deep grudge against me for having the temerity to call out his nonsense on my forum. Please note that Hahn came onto my forum in a covert manner and totally of his own volition. He made a number of untenable claims which I challenged. When he could not substantiate these claims but instead became argumentative, I booted him off the forum, an event from which Fred has apparently never recovered.
Cheer up Fred. I should be flattered by the amount of emotional energy you have invested in all this, but to be quite honest, I think it's a little pathetic. Getting kicked off someone's forum is hardly the end of the world. Grow up and get on with your life. You like Super Slow training? Great, more power to you! Keep training however you like, because quite frankly, I don't give a hoot what style of training you use! Just don't come on my forum making untenable claims that you can't substantiate.
To be quite honest Fred, while I hardly consider your training methods to be optimal, I'd rather someone at least be in the gym using them than doing nothing at all. Some training is usually better than none. As time goes on, hopefully those folks would then eventually discover and switch to more effective training methods.
[This article originally appeared at AnthonyColpo.com, November 24, 2007.]
Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of the groundbreaking books The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con. For more information, visit TheFatLossBible.net or TheGreatCholesterolCon.com
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