Tempo Is Important

October 14, 2009 | Comments: None Yet - Post a Comment

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Does it matter how fast I lift this weight? I hear this every day and the answer is always, Yes! The speed at which you perform an exercise alters the efficacy of that exercise. A ten pound dumbbell doesn’t always provide ten pounds of resistance.

If you are doing a bicep curl and you lift the weight as fast as you can and come to a sudden stop at the top, you are essentially “throwing and catching” the weight. While the dumbbell always weighs ten pounds, it is actually only providing ten pounds of resistance (and probably a little more) at the beginning and end of the exercise. In the middle, where the weight is moving more because of momentum rather than your continued exertion, the resistance can be as little as three pounds! Now if you slow down and take three or four seconds to bring the dumbbell to your shoulder, hold it there for one second and then lower it for two to four seconds, the ten pound dumbbell is providing ten pounds of resistance throughout your entire repetition. Try it. You will find it is much more difficult to do the exercise slowly and controlled than it is to do it quickly.

Is it ever correct to “throw and catch” a weight? Maybe. What is the goal of the exercise? Are you trying to put the maximum emphasis on the beginning and end of the exercise? There are specific reasons that you may want to do this, but for most of us, doing a controlled exercise is going to be more beneficial. Unfortunately, even with all of the research out there about there about losing weight and gaining muscle, there is very little useful information about what the exact proper tempo is for maximum muscle build. The approach I advocate is to switch up tempos frequently, every three to for weeks. Try some of these during your next workout and pay attention to how the different tempos feel in your muscles. All times are in seconds.

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