Using a 4-0-1-0 Tempo To Gain More Muscle

March 25, 2014 | 18 Comments

Rep tempo

Most people lift weights without a care in the world about rep tempo. And this is absolutely fine, especially if you’re a beginner.

If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t even worry about your tempo. Just move the weight up and down in a normally paced, controlled manner.

But for more intermediate/advanced lifters, I would suggest changing up your rep tempo every now and then to stimulate more muscle growth.

Muscles respond to tension

First off understand that the size of your muscles is dictated by the amount of tension you place on them.

The more tension you place on your muscles, the more they’ll grow.

This is why it’s so important to constantly increase the amount of weight and reps you do, because if you keep lifting the same amount of weight, it means you’re constantly applying the same amount of tension on your muscles and thus they will remain the same size.

Why you should change your rep tempo

While increasing the amount of weight and reps you do is an incredibly effective way to gain more muscle, there will come a point where you won’t seem to progress anymore. This is when switching your rep tempo can definitely help.

You should switch your rep tempo if:

  • You hit a plateau in your muscle building journey
  • You lose motivation and you’re simply looking for a different way to train.

One of the most effective rep tempos out there is the 1-0-4-0 tempo.

What is a 1-0-4-0 tempo?

Put simply, 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

By going much slower on the negative movement, exploding on the positive, and not resting at the top or bottom, you’re greatly increasing the amount of tension you place on your muscles.

Also note that when using the 1-0-4-0 temp, it’s best to stick around the 8 rep range at approximately 75% of your 1-rep max (1RM) since that will place your muscles between 40-60 seconds of constant tension, which is the most effective amount for muscle growth.

So for example on the bench press, you would take 4 seconds to lower the bar and 1 second to push it up. And remember, you can’t rest at the top or bottom of the movement.

Give it a try in your next workout

Changing your rep tempo is simply another tool to help you build more muscle. In no way, shape, or form am I telling you to stop lifting in heavier (4-6) rep ranges. I’m simply saying that changing your rep tempo every now and then isn’t a bad idea for those experiencing plateaus or training boredom.

So in your next workout, try lifting with a 1-0-4-0 tempo. I guarantee you’ll feel a difference in your workout, especially if you’ve never played around with rep tempo before.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments.

Photo credit: Ben Harrington

18 Comments - Leave Your Thoughts

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  1. Nice run down on varying the tempo. I have used this tempo method before with good results. A word of warning though, if you haven’t tried this method before, prepare to be sore and I mean sore deep in the muscle, especially after a leg session. A good sore though!

  2. I am going to try this on my next workout. One question: When you are on a workout schedule and you are extremely sore, do you rest and skip workout days or hit it even though you can barely move?

  3. Hahahahahahahaha, i got you, you recommend to switch reps to avoid plateaus while in an other article you said that plateaus doesn’t created because you don’t switch your workout. I am really tired to read articles full of wrong information about training.

    1. when did I say that? I did write about the myth of muscle confusion and why that’s the stupidest name ever but i never said changing up your workout isn’t needed.

      1. In your article: ”What Is Muscle Confusion And Why It’s a Big Fat Lie” you wrote:

        ”People don’t plateau because they don’t mix it up, they plateau because they aren’t progressing in their workouts anymore.”

        And in this article you write: ”I’m simply saying that changing your rep tempo every now and then isn’t a bad idea for those experiencing plateaus or training boredom.”

        Changing reps isn’t progression so why to do that??

        1. Yup you’re right, Teddy. I definitely could have worded that other article better.

          My driving point was – people shouldn’t constantly change their routine because they think muscles have the capability of being “confused” or that every single workout should be different. Variety is good, just not too much.

          Thanks I’ll update the article soon.

          1. I am sorry to tell you that your articles are full of wrong information, but i train years without so good results and i have read millions of articles that confuses me more.
            I don’t believe that your articles are wrong.. I like your articles and i found them really interesting, maybe i didn’t understand exactly what did you mean in the previous article. I am also interesting to try the online coaching one day.


          2. I appreciate your comments.

            Some of my articles, especially my earlier ones may not be as eloquently written as they could be, but nothing I say is meant to deceive the reader.

            Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to clear anything up for you.

          3. Ok, my biggest problem is this: After a long lay off i start training again but i can’t complete even a simple beginner routine. I can handle 4 total sets (close to failure) maximum per workout. If i add more sets, after some days i feel like a crap.
            It seems i am extremely out of shape, also i am very skinny. What do you suggest me to do? Is there a way to increase my work capacity?


          4. Start slow and build up and stop taking long lay offs. You need to be consistent with your training to see good results. Also make sure you’re eating enough to spur new muscle growth.

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