Lifting Tempo and Your Gym Goals
Weight lifting tempo refers to the speed at which you do your repetitions. Each element of a movement can be timed, including the concentric phase where you lift the weight, the isometric phase where you pause before lowering, and the eccentric phase where you bring the weight back down.
The Advantages of a Slow Tempo
A slow and controlled tempo with lighter weights is a great way to begin strength training. The pace allows you to do a particular exercise mindfully, and this can prevent injury.
Are you aiming for gains? Extend your muscles’ time under tension (TUT) to bulk up. Because of the additional time that your muscles spend under strain during a slow tempo, you’ll increase the intensity of the exercise. More intensity = a greater potential to experience hypertrophy (the growth of muscle cells).
The Advantages of a Fast Tempo
A rapid rate means a shorter time under tension. But the quicker tempo and intense, explosive bursts of activity can increase your power and speed.
Cracking the Tempo Code
When it comes to tempo, there’s a prevailing numeric convention that aids with rhythm. The concept is fairly simple. If you see a four-digit number such as 3631 (which is awesome for general conditioning), it’s a prescription for how many seconds to spend on each phase of a movement.
- The first number refers to the eccentric/negative phase when you lower the weight.
- The second number is the duration of the pause when the weight is lowered.
- The third number is the concentric/contraction phase during the lift.
- The fourth number is the pause that takes place just after you’ve lifted the weight.
A fast tempo involves lower numbers and an ‘X’ can be a stand-in for a ‘1’. You can tweak these prescriptions depending on your experience level and the fitness goals you want to achieve. Work with a trainer to figure out what’s best for you.
Alter Your Tempo When You Plateau
After you’ve been weight lifting for a while, you may find that your results aren’t quite as dramatic as they used to be. As your body gets used to the good kind of stress exercise places on it, you will need to find ways to challenge it further.
Progressive overload or gradually upping the weight you lift is the most obvious way to do this along with increasing your reps. You can also play with tempo to notice a change for the better.
Construct a workout where you lift at a slow tempo and add on a fast tempo set. This two-pronged approach can make a positive difference to your lean muscle mass and your strength.
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