What is a rep? Exercise science is finding new answers for this basic question. For many lifts, guys tend to do standard reps: one second up, one down, racing through sets. But by making certain phases agonisingly slow, you may force your muscles to work harder. The next time you bench or squat, raise the bar explosively and take four seconds to lower it. Now that’s a rep!
Tempo training, or the strategic slowing of certain phases of an exercise, may force you to concentrate on the muscle being worked. A study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that focusing on a specific muscle group in use when doing resistance training may increase those muscles’ activity. The whitecoats can’t say tempo training builds more muscle than fast lifting, but it does have benefits, says trainer Pat Davidson. It’s how he turned the Spring eld College Ironsports team into a national powerhouse. Tempo training may help you feel each movement through its full range of motion. It also lets you put muscles under more tension without heavier weights. Use it strategically when looking to set new maxes on certain lifts. (Think of using it for 4-6 weeks, then going back to normal reps and moving heavier loads, says Davidson.)
Some Moves Aren't Meant To Be Slow
Tempo training may be a brilliant tool to enhance your training, but it isn’t meant to be used with all exercises, Nelson says. Avoid using it in these specific scenarios.
1/ Highly Technical Lifts
If an exercise has you start by lifting weight off the floor (as in a heavy deadlift), slowing down a phase could lead to injury.
2/ Exercises That've Hurt You In The Past
Spending more time in potentially dangerous positions may raise your likelihood of injury.
3/ Explosive Moves
Olympic lifts, jumps and throws are designed for speed, not tempo.