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A no nonsense guide to designing your workouts - Part 2
by: Michael Furci
Pg 3 of 3

Lift the weight, don't throw it

There is one component of weight training that is commonly overlooked. Tempo. It is widely accepted among bodybuilders and strength athletes, that one should lift weights under control. Yet most of them haven't a clue as to what that really means, or how it can affect their training. Tempo is by far the least used tool by most people who weight train, including bodybuilders and strength athletes.

To understand tempo you need to understand "time under tension" - TOT. TOT is simply the amount of time a muscle is under tension. To develop muscle mass the appropriate amount of time a set should last is between 20 and 60 seconds.

Tempo is the speed of your reps. It is expressed and recorded by three or four digit numbers representing the seconds required to complete a rep. Example: 402 (four, zero, two) or 50X0 (five, zero, explosive, zero). Using the bench press, the first digit is the speed in which the weight is lowered (negative). The second digit is the amount of time one pauses once they've reached their chest. The third digit is the amount of time one takes to raise the weight (positive). The forth digit, if used, is the amount of time one takes before lowering the weight again. If an "X" is used, it means explosive, or as fast as possible. 

When the proper use of tempo is employed, the muscles are truly doing the work. Slow speeds make the muscles work harder by eliminating momentum and bouncing. Slowing down the pace increases the amount of muscle tension and the duration of the stimulus. Tempo will also force you to pay close attention to form. However, as with any other aspects of training, it should not be used by itself. 

Slower speed training should comprise most of your training. But just like you need to vary your reps, varying your speeds will also elicit a greater effect. As stated earlier muscles require a variety of stimuli. Stick with the basic principles, find out what works for you. Then, throw a wrench in it once in a while to keep your muscles and nervous system guessing and adapting.

In part III I will discuss rest intervals and how they relate to the growth response. I will also list detailed programs that include; exercise selection, sets, reps, tempo, and rest intervals. Until then, if you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

Other Articles By Michael Furci

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