ABCbodybuilding - View Single Post - Regarding tempo: time under tension vs maximum power output
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:13 PM
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Commander Commander is offline
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Hypertrophy results from 3 main pathways:
1. Mechanical tension - lifting heavy or lifting moderately heavy but truly exploding the weight
2. Muscle damage - can be achieved by volume or using a lower volume but applying intensity techniques such as drop sets and slow negatives
3. Metabolic stress - this is caused from byproducts of higher rep sets where tension is maintained on the muscle (almost causing occlusion)

Interestingly, Vladimir Zatsiorsky, has stated that there are three ways to get stronger:
1. Maximal effort method - creates mechanical tension (heavy weights)
2. Repeated effort method - creates much muscle damage (higher volume)
3. Dynamic effort method - creates mechanical tension (lighter weights moved very explosively)

As you can see, focusing your training on getting strong will still results in size gains since the 3 methods of getting strong successfully cover 2 out of the 3 methods for getting bigger.

Therefore a well designed program will have:
1a. Big compound lifts where you go heavy (Max effort method and Mechanical Tension)
1b. Also occasionally do the big lifts lighter but ridiculously fast (Dynamic effort method and Mechanical Tension)
2. Secondary compound lifts where you go moderate and increase volume by using slightly higher reps and many sets (Repeated effort method and Muscle Damage)
3. Tertiary lifts that you can increase time under tension (Metabolic Stress)


To directly answer your question, is there benefit to a 3-1-1-0 tempo from a strength point of view? Not really, it is hard to specify the negative as a squat negative may take longer than a bench press simply because the distance is longer. And the concentric phase should be explosive, but on lighter weights this may take not even 0.5 seconds, but on a heavy weight it may be closer to 2 seconds. In terms of pausing, depending on if you are training for a powerlifting meet, that may or may not be valuable, but generally speaking, as you get truly heavy with a squat for example, you will not want to pause in the bottom.

The tempo would look like this:
Controlled Eccentric - No Pause - Explosive - 1 (maybe 1 second at the top ROM)

You are correct, slowing down your tempo will lighten your weights. And since two of the three hypertrophy pathways involve heavy or moderate weights, I would not want to do anything to lighten the weights.

However, as long as your training contains a couple compound lifts programmed for some heavy weight and decent volume, than by all means throw in some isolation work where you strive to achieve at least 30 seconds of time under tension and use prescribed tempos.

Arms are a muscle group which I am finding work better with slower tempos and less of a concern for weight, but most other muscle groups I train with the idea of moving heavy weight and moving it as fast as I can.


I'm glad you've been active on the boards and reading the articles!

James 1:16-17 ESV
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
With God's help...Mens sana in corpore sano

Last edited by Commander; 04-16-2013 at 12:15 PM.
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