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28
01
2015

Setting The Tempo

by Team ON Athlete Bryn Ray

Team ON Athlete Bryn Ray is a dedicated fitness model and life coach who works hard to inspire others to achieve more. 

This article is a follow on from my previous article on Training for Size.

More to lifting weights than sets & reps

It’s vital to remember that there’s more to lifting weights than sets and reps when it comes to building muscle. Aspects such as rep speed and time under tension must all come into consideration. The common phrase for considering these speed based elements is tempo.

In essence, tempo means how quickly you lift a weight (the concentric or positive stage of the rep) and how quickly you lower the weight (the eccentric or negative stage of the rep). The speed at which you lift the weight will trigger different training effects and lead to different results.

Developing muscle volume occurs after progressively overloading the muscle with high muscle tension. The faster you lift a weight, the lower the muscle tension. By reducing rep speed to a more controlled tempo, muscle tension is increased which in turn helps to develop muscle growth.

Although lifting weights faster allows you to lift larger weights, the tension is less. When larger weights are lifted fast, size is traded for power and speed. This is apparent when looking at Olympic Lifters who often have extreme strength, but lack the large and full physique of a bodybuilder. Ultimately, the higher the muscle tension, the more you grow.

For the average gym-goer, a good rule of thumb is to perform a 2-3 second concentric movement and a 3-4 second eccentric movement. As you progress, this may be altered and dissected further e.g. detailing time spent holding the full contraction and the time between the eccentric and concentric.  For those looking to increase both power and volume at the same time, you may wish to consider a concentric phase of 1-2 seconds and an eccentric phase of 4-5 seconds.

 


 

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