Ignore the importance of the speed at which you perform each rep and you’ll never place enough tension on the target muscle to stimulate growth, says Ben Pakulski
Ben Pakulski is a IFBB Pro bodybuilder and creator of the new Mi40 Xtreme training system and the Mi40 Nation website. He is based in Tampa, Florida.
Tempo is a very important aspect of training. In my Mi40 programmes I use a 4010 tempo. That’s a four-second eccentric, a zero-second pause at the bottom of the rep, a one-second, explosive concentric, then another zero-second pause at the top. Not pausing at the top or bottom of each rep keeps continuous tension on the target muscle for the duration of the set which is one of the most important factors in stimulating as much muscle tissue growth as possible.
The reason I like a 4010 tempo for most people, especially those relatively new to lifting, is that it teaches you control. If you can master the control of each rep then you are likely to be placing tension where you want it to be placed – the muscle you are working.
Placing tension on the target muscle can be extremely difficult for some people because they’ve never tried to do it before. That’s why I like this tempo because it forces you to control the weight and makes you think about where you are placing the tension for the duration of every rep in the set.
Vary the tempo
That’s not to say the 4010 tempo is set in stone. The recommended duration of the set for optimal hypertrophy is between 40 and 70 seconds. So you can manipulate the tension of your reps to make sure the set ends within this range.
It is also important to vary the tempo at which you lift. If I did a 4010 tempo all the time, for every lift of every session, then I would very likely soon stagnate.
Sometimes I’ll do a 1040, which is a four-second concentric movement, which is a completely different stimulus on the muscle.
Variation of tempo, just as with exercise selection and all the other training variables, is essential for muscle mass growth.