Manipulating Tempo for increased Gains

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456 Posts
Jun 10, 2015 4:10pm
via Android

Assuming you’re already following a good strength training program, you are probably looking for new or better ways to maximise the muscle building process in order to grow bigger and stronger muscles as fast as humanly possible.

Yes, most of us are a little impatient when it comes to muscle growth. It’s a very long and challenging process but there are many things you can do to get a better return on investments with your time in the gym: one of them is to control and manipulate your tempo of repetitions.

The body will eventually adapt to any training routine, it’s just a question of time. Your repetition tempo is one of those variables you have to change regularly in order to force progress and blast trough the plateau!

When you change a variable in your training, such as the number of repetitions, the weight you push, the rest time between your sets or the repetition tempo, it’s going to give your body a new stimulus for what it will need to adapt to for triggering new muscle growth.

The average strength trainees never change this tempo. Their repetition patterns go a little bit like this:

Muscle contraction (concentric) : 1 to 2 seconds
Pause: 1 to 1.5 seconds
Muscle release (eccentric): 1 seconds
Pause: 1 to 1.5 seconds
And the cycle goes on from a rep to another until the end of the set. There is no problem with this popular pattern in particular besides the fact that your body will start getting used to it after about 4 training sessions.

Different tempo will activate muscle growth using different pathways. Some can be slightly more efficient than others or more adapted to your specific goal, but in reality this is a little irrelevant because they all stop producing good results after a couple sessions.

The idea is to have a few different patterns, and to rotate them one after the other.

If you change the pattern once a month and use 4 different patterns in your cycle, it means that the next time you use a specific pattern, it’s going to be 4 month later. Hopefully, the morphology of your muscles and other variables in your training will have changed by then. This should give you enough time to make the tempo pattern effective again.

The slow-ass tempo:
Besides pissing off other people waiting for your spot in the gym, using a slow tempo will help increase your muscle time under tension, which will provide a more taxing stimulus to the muscle by recruiting more motor units, which, in return, will trigger size- and strength-gain more effectively.

Moreover, the slow-ass tempo, which uses lighter weights, is ideal when you introduce a new exercise, because it will produce desired hypertrophy while allowing time to develop proper technique. It is also an ideal pattern to use if you have to recover from an injury.

Muscle contraction (concentric) : 4 to 5 seconds
Pause: 1 to 1.5 seconds
Muscle release (eccentric): 4 to 5 seconds
Pause: 1 to 1.5 seconds

The hybrid tempo:
An explosive fast and slow tempo will produce a big lactate buildup and a large growth hormone release while recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers for great strength gain and more fat loss. Since you count on the GH release as growth factor for this one, I would suggest eliminating high glycemic carbs from your diet in the following 12 hours since they blunt GH release. Just go for good old protein and fat. Try plain whey protein & coconut oil as your post workout shake! Tasty!

Muscle contraction (concentric) : Explosive, 0.5 seconds
Pause: 1 to 1.5 seconds
Muscle release (eccentric): 4 to 5 seconds
Pause: 1 to 1.5 seconds

The machine gun tempo:
This one is a killer, basically you do your best to be as much explosive and fast as you can while keeping proper form. Even if your time under tension is greatly reduced, it is going to build muscle capable of vigorously producing great power, which is always convenient especially if you do some sports! Be sure to be comfortable with the exercise before doing this one, because it could lead to serious injuries if done improperly.

Muscle contraction (concentric) : Explosive, 0.5 seconds
Pause: 0.5 seconds
Muscle release (eccentric): 1 seconds
Pause: 0.5 seconds

The popular tempo:
The first example I used to introduce the concept with, a constant 1 to 2 second tempo, gives a well-rounded hypertrophic effect; no wonder why it became so popular in the first place. The only issue with it is its overly great popularity. Don’t forget to come back to it later on; it would be a great way to the end your cycle.

Again, to repetitively experience muscle development while you strength-train, you must cycle the parameter of your main variables. The classic pitfall that inevitably leads to plateau is to always train the same way. To another extent, if you always change the exercises themselves, you will never have the required time to achieve proper muscle development. Changing the tempo is one of those simple but yet powerful ways to keep your progress going.

“The single biggest mistake that most beginners make is putting 100% of their effort into the positive (concentric) part of the rep, while paying no attention to the negative (eccentric) segment.” – Dorian Yates (Mr.Olympia)

10 Jun
TUT baby!
10 Jun
Thanks for sharing!
10 Jun
GREAT way to make gains if you have a spotter who can help you with the eccentric moves as well. Really rips your fibers up
12 Jun
Great bro!
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456 Posts
Aug 8, 2015 5:37pm
via Android

This is for those whom may no longer be reaching the much sought after DOMS. Time to switch things up

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456 Posts
Aug 27, 2015 1:55pm
via Android

Double bump

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