Slow VS Fast Reps, Which is Better? [Take the TEMPO Test]

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Try this simple tempo test to discover your time under tension.

Slow VS. Fast Reps, Which is Better? [Take the TEMPO Test]

You may have heard that the hypertrophy training zone (where muscle gains are made) requires time under tension to be 40 seconds per set. But you may be wondering what does this mean, how do you even know if you’re in that zone, and who is it good for?

When I first started with fitness I was super focused on weight loss and slimming down. Virtually all of my training was done in a “cardio style” with fast quick reps, low weight and high volume. This is usually the advice for trimming down size and becoming smaller

What I didn’t realize I was doing at the time was a lot of endurance training, which keeps the muscle sizes small (less defined).

To increase fat loss, you need to build your muscles.

This is what helps the most with long-term sustainable fat loss. It will also give you more definition, tone, and curves.

Now my training consists of a lot of different tempos, because there is value in each type of training and to get the best well-rounded results you can and should do a variety of training styles.

Learning to use Tempo:

Tempo refers to the pace or the speed of your reps. Each exercise is comprised of 4 parts:

  1. The eccentric (relaxation/lengthening of the muscle)
  2. The pause at the peak of muscle length
  3. The concentric (contraction/shortening of the muscle)
  4. The pause at the peak of contraction

Tempo will be written as a 4 number series like this:
2,0,2,0

The first number refers to the first portion of the rep or the lengthening (eccentric movement)
The second number is the pause at the bottom
The third number is the contraction or the shortening of the muscle (concentric movement)
The fourth number is the pause at the peak of contraction.

In this example, you’d take 2 seconds to lengthen (in a squat that would be squatting down), 0 seconds for the pause (no pause), then 2 seconds to contract (stand up), and again no pause at the top. Each rep would take you 4 seconds to complete.
You can count out loud as you are practicing reps, or use a timer to keep you on track.
A set of 10 reps with a 2,0,2,0 tempo should take you exactly 40 seconds.

Tempos are a guide to help you control and extend the length of time your muscles are under tension.

No need to be exact with them, just another tool in your toolbox to help you get next-level results.

A good way of testing yourself is to time your sets and see if your number of reps is taking the right amount of time based on the tempo it should be.

Try this: do 10 reps of bodyweight squats at a tempo of 2,0,2,0 and time yourself. If your set takes exactly 40 seconds and all your reps are at an even and steady pace then you’ve nailed it! If you find you are moving too fast or too slow then keep working on it. Eventually you’ll be able to use tempos without a timer or clock and follow based on feel.

Also, watch the tutorial video to see what various tempos look like and how they might look different on different exercises like step ups or hip thrusts.

Thanks for reading, and KEEP living lean!

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