Which is better for faster muscle growth? – Slower reps or Faster reps? Read on to learn everything you should know about repetition speed viz-a-viz faster muscle growth!
How fast should you perform each repetition? Some people tend to perform their reps at a faster pace, while others do them in a slow and controlled manner. There has always been a controversy – which method works better for muscle growth.
Slower Reps And Muscle Growth!
Performing reps with a slower tempo offers a greater time under tension. Thus your targeted muscle remains under strain for much longer time during a set.
And because a longer time under tension has been shown to be closely related with an increased metabolic response, slower reps theoretically should lead to greater muscle growth.
Faster Reps And Muscle Growth
On the other hand, performing reps at a faster tempo enables you to complete more number of reps and/or use a heavier weight as compared to that doing with slower tempo.
So some people say, it amounts to a choice between “time under tension” versus “the amount of reps/weight used”.
If you ask experts, they will explain that the eccentric (negative phase – for example lowering of weight in case of dumbbell curls), is every thing when you are aiming for building muscle mass (hypertrophy) and the concentric, or lifting phase (positive phase), is everything when your aim is to gain strength.
You probably have observed in your gym that many of the trainers who perform reps with explosivity (at faster speed) mostly gain strength, but don’t look as muscular as many of the guys, who workout with varying speeds.
It has been shown that reps speed definitely is associated with key factors affecting muscle mass building (hypertrophy) and strength enhancement; and other related things such as time under tension, muscle activation, hormonal & metabolic responses.
How Much Does Reps Speed Impact Muscles Growth (Hypertrophy & Strength?)
Scientists in Sao Paulo, Brazil, have found “Reps at slow speed” can help you gain muscle mass up to three times faster than ” Reps at fast speed”.
Better Approach For Faster Muscle Mass Gain – Slower Reps!
For many exercises, the people tend to follow standard reps approach – 1 second up and 1 second down. And they continue doing standard reps for months and even years, without any variation.
Here is a secret! The most experts claim that by making some specific phases intensely slow, you can compel your muscles work harder. For example, while doing bench press, raise the bar or dumbbells (positive phase) explosively (1-2 seconds) and then take 3-4 seconds to lower it (negative phase). That’s the best Rep Tempo training!
Strategic Reps Training (Tempo Training): This involves slowing of a specific phase of an exercise. This will enable you to focus on the muscle that you intend to target. According to European Journal of Applied Physiology study, it was established that concentrating on the specific muscle group engaged while doing resistance training could actually enhance those muscles’ activity.
Tempo training helps you feel and focus on the muscles being worked on all through the full range of motion during each movement. In addition, it also enables you to put the muscles under more tension even without using heavier weights.
Exceptions: Some Moves Aren’t Meant To Be Slow
Tempo training (Strategically Slower Reps) may be an effective approach for achieving better training results, but there are a few exceptions. Avoid using it for these particular movements.
(i) Highly Technical Lifts: If an exercise involves lifting weight off the floor (for example heavy deadlift), slowing down a phase is prone to injury.
(ii) Moves That Have Hurt You In The Past: Spending more time in a potentially risky position increases your risk of injury.
(iii) Explosive Moves: For example jumps and throws, as they require speed.
The Take Away!
Not that we know, controlling the negative phase (eccentric portion of the movement) can lead to greater muscle gains while reducing the chances of injury than simply allowing gravity do the work for you. Thus, the best approach is:
(i) Concentric Portion: During positive phase, that is concentric portion of the rep, use a speed that’s on the faster side but still makes you feel your muscle being under tension during the movement. The actual speed will depend on what you feel is best for you; It may be one second or two seconds.
(ii) Eccentric Portion: During negative phase, that is eccentric portion of the rep, use a speed that’s on the slower side so that you are able to actively control the weight against gravity rather than simply dropping the weight. As a thumb rule aim for a negative phase time duration of at least twice the positive phase. For example if you are performing concentric part of an exercise in 1 second ( or 2 seconds) , take 2 seconds (or 4 seconds) to do eccentric part
Useful Related Post: High Reps vs. Low Reps
This approach will help you derive the most out of your workout.