By Terry Cobb-CPT, CES
Weight training is a lot more complex than what you might think. Knowing the proper tempo for the exercise you’re doing and what you want to achieve from it can not only boost your gains, but prevent injuries too.
One fundamental rule with weight lifting is: any lifting movement-whether it’s fast or slow-must be done properly. Movements always need to be controlled, using an appropriate amount of weight and the proper form. Movements should never be jerky or uncontrolled-that’s how serious injuries occur. It’s also important to note that it isn’t a “fast” versus “slow” situation where one is better than the other. Both are great-which one you use depends on what you want to achieve.
Lifting the weight is the concentric part of the rep-aka the “positive.” Lowering the weight is the eccentric part of the rep-the “negative.” The faster you lift on the positive, the lower the muscle tension. Faster, explosive lifts on the positive enable you to lift more weight-but, you also sacrifice size. Increases in strength-not size-stem from faster positives.
Increases in size stem from high tension lifts-slower, controlled reps. High muscle tension achieved through slower positive lifts, combined with progressive overload is what leads to gains in muscle size. Progressive overload means increasing the weight, upping the number of reps (up to a max of about 12) or decreasing the rest time between sets. It’s important to note that going really slow isn’t going to result in exponential muscle growth though. The trick is to find the right tempo for your particular goals. For example, if your goal is to increase muscle size a good rule of thumb is 2-3 seconds for the concentric contraction (lift) and 2-4 seconds for the eccentric contraction (lowering the weight). For a lot of exercises, it’s generally a good idea to lower the weight a bit slower than the lift. The concentric contraction is where your muscles are doing all the work. The eccentric contraction is the part where your muscles face resistance. The resistance phase is important because it increases the flow of blood to the muscles. And more blood flow means more nutrients are getting to the muscles, which helps them get bigger and stronger.
It’s the quality and not necessarily the quantity of the lift that create results in mass and strength. Quality reps produce quality results. Weight lifting without regards to rep is not the way to go if you expect maximum results. Maximum results go to those who work with an intelligent approach. So for most of us, that means slowing it down a bit, in order to build those muscles- as we have a tendency to rush through our sets to simply “get it done”.
Read more: http://www.criticalbench.com/rep-speeds-tempos.htm