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What Lifting Tempo is Best For Strength, Muscle Building, & Fat Loss?

Live Lean Nation, on today’s episode we’re talking about one of the most neglected, yet very important parts of your workout program design, tempo.

Tempo a.k.a. time under tension has a major impact on the results you’re getting from your workouts.

Tempo training can improve the performance of beginners, intermediates, and advanced trainees.

Research shows modifying the tempo of your lifts is one of the best techniques to improve strength, muscle building, and fat loss.

Following a tempo can be just as important to your workout as the set and rep counts and weights lifted.

So tempo simply indicates how long you spend on lowering the weight (typically called the eccentric portion of the lift), how long you spend lifting the weight back up (typically called the concentric portion of the lift), and how long you pause at the bottom and the top of the lift.

Think about it, lifting a weight very explosively up and down with no pauses will have a different training effect on your body than if you lower the weight slowly for 4 seconds and lift it up for 1 second, with various pauses for peak contraction.

Either way is correct…depending on what your primary goal is. I’ll get into that at the end of the video.

So typically in our workout programs, you’ll see reference to 4 numbers that indicate the prescribed tempo.

For example, in a barbell squat, you could see a tempo of 4121.

The first number, 4 in this example, represents the seconds of the eccentric portion of the lift, or the lengthening of the muscle, in most cases the lowering of the weight. So, in this example, you should take a 4 second count to lower yourself into the squat.

The second number, 1, represents the seconds of the pause in the stretched position. For example, when you’re at the bottom of the squat. So if it’s 0, there is no pause, but if it was 1, there would be a 1 second pause at this stretched position.

The third number, 2, represents the seconds in the concentric portion of the lift where the muscles shorten, in most cases the lifting of the weight. So, in this example, you should take a 2 second count to stand back up. Sometimes an “X” is used in the tempo scheme (for example, 40X0) which means to lift the weight with explosive power.

The fourth number, 1, represents the seconds of the pause in the top of the concentric range of the lift. So if it’s 0, there is no pause, but if it was 1, there would be a 1 second pause.

Focusing on time under tension for the first few reps is important, but once you get to the later reps in the set, you may have a harder time sticking to the indicated tempos as you get closer to failure.

In the later reps, I wouldn’t recommend stopping if you can’t stick to the tempos, I’d recommend you keep going until you hit failure.

Now that you know what tempos are and why they’re important, let’s quickly discuss what tempos you should be using based on your goal.

Tempo Training For Strength:
If strength and power is your primary goal, research shows a faster tempo (like 1.5 seconds to lift and 1.5 seconds to lower) for heavier weights can improve strength faster, because of the force created behind the lift.

The more force behind the lift places more demand on your muscles, and recruits more motor units, especially the Type 2 fast twitch muscle fibers.

Tempo Training For Muscle Building:
If your goal is primarily muscle building, a slower tempo may be more beneficial for you.

With a slower tempo, there is an increase in the time under tension for the muscle, which then recruits higher threshold motor units, creating more stimulus for muscle growth.

If you’re a beginner to resistance training, a good place to start is by focusing on using a slower tempo with lighter weight. This way you’ll improve muscle size without compromising form and your safety.

Using a slower tempo with lighter weights is also a good idea when you’re recovering from an injury as it can improve blood flow to the injured area and muscle activation.

Tempo Training For Fat Loss:
If your primary goal is fat loss, more time under tension, such as 4 seconds to lower and 1 second to lift, helps increase the Afterburn Effect, meaning your metabolism is elevated and you’ll burn calories at a higher rate for up to 48 hours after your workout.

Natural production of growth hormone and lactic acid can also increase with slower tempos thus helping burn more body fat.

So there you have it Live Lean Nation. You now know the importance of following a tempo based on your workout goals.

If you’re not currently following a workout program, I highly recommend you invest in one today.

If your goal is fat loss. Check out my program.
If your goal is muscle building. I’m in the process of designing a brand new and improved version of Live Lean Mass 2.0. But until then, check out my program.
And if your goal is to get stronger. Check out my program.

The program for your goals is designed and ready for you to take action on it and accomplish your fitness goals.

I’m here to help you do just that.

Do me a big favor and share this video with your workout partner.

I love you guys and keep Living Lean.

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If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you subscribe to my Live Lean TV YouTube channel as we upload new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

I love you guys and keep Living Lean.

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