On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m answering the question, what does tempo mean in weight training, and share the simple solution to build muscle faster.
Alright Live Leaner, pay close attention to this post because this is a mistake a lot of men and women get wrong with their workouts.
Plus, there is such an easy solution to fix it, so you can build lean muscle faster.
Lean muscle mass is the key to Living Lean and looking and feeling young.
There are many advanced teachings to build muscle faster.
However, in most cases, these “revolutionary” techniques are way more advanced than your current fitness level.
It’s very important to first learn and master the fundamental basics of muscle building, then move on to more advanced techniques.
Today’s muscle building workout tip is something that everyone, regardless of your fitness level, can implement into your next workout.
Even though this simple muscle building technique should be engrained in the head of every single personal trainer, I often see these fitness professionals also forgetting about it.
This amazes me because, without a doubt, this is one of the easiest and best muscle building workout tips you can add to your training.
I’m referring to the tempo of your weight lifting.
Let’s get what tempo means.
Tempo is simply defined as the time, in seconds, it takes to lift and lower a weight.
Focusing on varying the tempo is one of the most effective ways to increase muscle gains in the gym.
Tempo is often broken down into 4 different numbers, similar to this:
The first number indicates the eccentric portion of the lift, also known as the negative or lowering of the weight.
The tempo used to lower the weight is key to building muscle.
This is the portion of the lift where you build the most muscle mass and strength.
To be clear, the lowering of the weights, not the lifting of the weights is where the majority of the muscle soreness occurs.
In other words, it’s most responsible for building muscle and strength.
This causes the stimulus that creates the adaptation to your muscle fiber hypertrophy, i.e. the growth of muscle.
So make sure you follow the proper tempos when lowering the weight.
To explain what tempo means, let me share an example of the alternating standing dumbbell bicep curl.
In the example of a bicep curl, the eccentric portion of the lift would refer to the lowering of the weight in seconds.
For example, if the first number was 4, this would mean you should take 4 seconds to lower the dumbbell from the top to the bottom of the curl.
To grow muscle and build strength, I like to use an eccentric tempo of 3-6 seconds.
So count, 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand, 4 one thousand.
The second tempo number indicates how long to pause at the bottom of the movement, in seconds.
In this example, the pause at the bottom is 0 seconds.
Therefore, there would be no pause at the bottom of the curl.
Typically at the bottom portion of the lift, I usually don’t use a pause, because I like to keep tension on the muscles.
The third tempo number indicates the lifting of the weight, in seconds.
For a bicep curl, the concentric part of the lift is when you lift the weight up.
In this example, the concentric is listed at 2 seconds.
Therefore, it should take 2 seconds to lift the weight from the bottom to the top of the curl.
I usually like a 1-3 second concentric, i.e. lifting the weight up.
The fourth tempo number indicates the pause at the top of the lift, in seconds.
In this example, the pause at the top is 0 seconds.
Therefore, there would be no pause at the top of the curl.
Depending on the exercise, I usually keep the pause at the top of the lift short.
For example. watch this clip of the video where I show you what I see so many people doing.
They are obviously following no set tempo, thus they are limiting their muscle gain.
It’s important to be in control of the weight, rather than the weight being in control of you.
Here’s an image representing the 4 parts of tempo and the recommended times for general muscle building programs.
Feel free to “PIN” away.
Remember to keep the eccentric slow and controlled, typically between 3-6 seconds.
On the concentric you can go between 1-3 seconds.
By following these tempos, you will be strategically tearing your muscle fibers, which is required to build new muscle.
Since your muscles are being torn apart, you will get sore, but remember once they repair themselves with proper nutrition, they’ll be bigger and stronger than ever.
Here’s another “out of the box” muscle building tip for you.
Most people count reps up.
For example, if your program calls for 10 reps, you count 1-2-3-4 and so on, after each rep.
Switch it up.
When it comes to counting your reps, try switching around the numbers by counting down.
For example, rather than counting from 1 to 10 reps, after your first rep you would count 10-9-8-7, and so on, down to 1.
When I try this, psychologically I find it keeps my mindset more focused on how many reps I have left, therefore I feel more motivated to hit my goals.
So give it a try and let me know what you think of it.
Following a tempo is one of the best muscle building workout tips to Live Lean.
Make sure you incorporate these tempos into your workouts.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.