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