I am an old adopter of the Superslow exercise protocol, as advanced years ago by Ken Hutchins. This was a 10 seconds up on an exercise (or positive motion), and 5 seconds down (negative). Of course, this was in my olden days of training with weights, back in the early 1980’s… I did make rather amazing progress using this protocol, but the bad effects of training with heavy weights were still apparent- I had blocky, chunky kinds of muscle, with a big butt from heavy squats and deadlifts, a chronically sore back from overloading the bar for those heavy squats, and a protruding gut, again from the squats and deadlifts. In addition, my shoulders were in pretty constant inflammation from heavy bench pressing, as were my elbows.
I switched to body weight exercise, which I term Perfectly Paleo Exercise, and rejuvenated myself in my 50’s. I do high rep pushups, which actually put the shoulders through a full, natural range of motion, unlike the bench press. I do virtual resistance, as I have described numerous times, both here and at www.paleojay.com, and also in my book of the same name, and in PaleoJay’s Smoothie Cafe in ebook and paperback. Pull-ups, dips, hindu squats, and gymnastic ring work, along with barefoot sprinting fill out my workout regimen, along with barefoot heavy hands walks through the woods on pretty much a daily basis. It made me much stronger and fitter than when I was younger, and my aches and pains all went away.
Some damage was done in those long ago times, though. Sometimes, I get a pain in my shoulder, or a twinge in my elbow joint. Thankfully, I never have back pain anymore, which I attribute to daily stretching, and especially my back bridge onto my forehead, which I also do daily and hold for a couple of minutes. I highly recommend that exercise to everyone!
But, when I do get that pain in my elbow or shoulder? That is when I go back to my Superslow training! I do my pushups in very, very slow motion- 10 seconds up, 5 down. It is rather agonizing to do this, and your reps go way down… but your results can be amazing! And, by moving so slowly, you can control the movement so well and exactly that you do not aggravate the pain in the joint, and it can heal even while you train.
For pull-ups and chin-ups, you can either use your gymnastic rings (this is the best!) to do pull-ups with your feet on the ground, and just help yourself enough to do the movement with a little bit of assistance. (True 5 seconds up and 10 down pull-ups are a real feat, especially for reps!)
To tell the truth, I don’t really feel the need to be exact on the speed of cadence nowadays: I just go really, really slowly, and feel the muscle deeply as it works. I watch the second hand on a clock often, and just go for time, not even counting reps. (For pushups, putting a watch on the ground in front of your face works great for this).
And that’s it. Even with an inflamed joint, you can train safely and productively, even enhancing healing by the improved blood circulation, just by going slow. But not just any old slow.