Fit Tip Friday – Ever heard of rep tempo? It could be the secret to gaining more strength and better form! One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of resistance training is the concept of rep tempo and time under tension. For example, many people will complete a standard 3 sets of 10 reps of a specific exercise for a muscle group they are trying to target. The overlooked aspect is the time this set takes to complete due to rep speed, especially the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement. Simply put, in most cases completing reps as fast as possible is far less effective than keeping yourself to a certain tempo. Research shows that sets lasting 4-24 seconds are best for strength gains, 30-50 seconds for hypertrophy (muscle growth), and 60-120 seconds for muscular endurance. Now we will go over some way to efficiently add time under tension and eccentric control to your resistance training program.

For example, a 1-0-4-0 tempo is:

  • 1 second on the positive movement
  • 4 seconds on the negative movement
  • With 0 second pauses at the top and bottom

What does each number mean? See below:

The system “123 or 1234”

The First Number– The first number is for the negative or eccentric phase – in other words, when you are lowering the weight or when you are moving in a direction opposite to the muscle contraction. For a squat and a bench press, this would mean lowering the weight. For a cable row, this would mean returning the plates to the stack.

The Second Number – The second number is the pause after the first phase is complete – for example, in the bench press, a pause as the weight is held stationary just above the chest.

The Third Number – The third number refers to the concentric or positive phase – the contraction. For a bench press, this would be driving the bar upwards. A number of 1 here typically means, “explode” – in other words, you may do it faster than 1 second.

The Fourth Number – The fourth number is usually left out, but if present, refers to the pause at the top of the movement.