T Nation

Speed of Decent for Strength

I train in a bodybuilding gym, today when I was squatting a big fella came over and said I should slow down the decent of my squats and feel it more. Now the weight I was using wasnt heavy for me at all but it looked harder since I have just broke two ribs. Is this simply a bodybuilders point of view or is this a valid point when my main goal is strength?

[quote]HitEmHard wrote:
I train in a bodybuilding gym, today when I was squatting a big fella came over and said I should slow down the decent of my squats and feel it more. Now the weight I was using wasnt heavy for me at all but it looked harder since I have just broke two ribs. Is this simply a bodybuilders point of view or is this a valid point when my main goal is strength?[/quote]

in my opinion, to have the best “pop” out of the bottom, i sit back into my squat a bit and build tension in the hips, ass and hams,instead of just dropping down. this will also protect the knees from the sheering force placed on them from dive bombing. some people dive bomb and use the momentum and stretch reflex created to come back up. i prefer to protect my knees and hips and really build the tension in the muscle. then power out of the bottom.

Thanks maraudermeat I can see your point. I think I may change my squat form while Im not able to handle higher weights and increase volume on squats. Thanks again

For me it’s easier to use the dive bomber style, dont overdo it though. just do what feels best for you, test both and compare them.

I think Im going to do 5x5 on squats and deadlifts as my form on deadlifts is off and Im going to have a play around with my squat form as I want to add 50kg to my squat this academic year at university. I tend to dive bomb only when I free squat but tend to slow it down when I box squat.

How do you change your decent between dive bomber, or sitting back? Do you have to bend your back more, or widen your stance? Or do those terms just refer to speed and not posture?

When I free squat I just drop down, where as when I box squat I focus more on sitting as far back as possible, so I tend to be slower as im not perpously dropping down to make the most of the stretch reflex. I do the same with bench to be honest I drop the bar fast, pause for a second on the chest and then press it.

I also tended to take a pause for 2 secs on the box when squatting. Never changed the speed on the box squats intentionaly just something that sort of happened I guess

I believe you mean descent. My knees would get sore when I used to drop down on the squat too quickly, but as long as you explode up I’m not sure how much it matters whether you come down slow, medium, etc…

Descend under control, but don’t go so slow that your wasting energy and time.

[quote]gainera2582 wrote:
Descend under control, but don’t go so slow that your wasting energy and time. [/quote]

bingo. Stretch reflex shouldn’t have much to do with tempo as long as you are mantaining tension and lowering under control. If you go too slow you may lose some of the streach reflex, although you would have to go pretty slow.

One of these days I am going to play around with removing weight on the ecentric phase. I am thinking about rigging some shock absorbers that are adjustable for compression and rebound. Theoretically this could help increase strength without adding mass. Similar to isometrics I guess, but I really dislike isometrics. Tricky part will be finding adjustable ones with a long enough stroke or figuring out how to mount them at an angle to minimize stroke. Yeah, I like to do stupid shit that probably won’t work.

just go down at the speed that feels natural, safe, and comfortable to you

[quote]chitown34 wrote:
I believe you mean descent. My knees would get sore when I used to drop down on the squat too quickly, but as long as you explode up I’m not sure how much it matters whether you come down slow, medium, etc…[/quote]

more time under tension = more hypertrophy

[quote]Seinix wrote:

more time under tension = more hypertrophy[/quote]

I don’t know if that’s the goal we’re going for here, as much as squatting at a speed that will maximize how much weight we can put up, in a safe way.

And always always always have a spotter for heavy squats above 90%1rm and utilize a good power rack when doing them. Makes a world of difference.

[quote]gainera2582 wrote:
And always always always have a spotter for heavy squats above 90%1rm and utilize a good power rack when doing them. Makes a world of difference. [/quote]

aye In the old gym this wasnt an option so I always used the pins on the squat rack to catch them. It certainly made going for PR’s intresting.

[quote]That One Guy wrote:
Seinix wrote:

more time under tension = more hypertrophy

I don’t know if that’s the goal we’re going for here, as much as squatting at a speed that will maximize how much weight we can put up, in a safe way.[/quote]

I think your misinterpreting what I said. He asked how lifting at a slower tempo could lead to an increase in muscle mass, and I told him why.

If I were to give specific advice to the OP, I would tell him that speed of the eccentric and concentric phases of a lift all depend on the the lift and the person.

For instance, I would advise to lift with an explosive (as fast as you possibly can) concentric phase on most lifts - save a few. For example, on pullups/chinups I do not think that an explosive concentric is appropriate. You still want to go fast, but as fast as you can while feeling the latismuss dorsi working. I would say a good tempo would be fast, but not explosive. However, if we are talking about pushing movements such as squatting, military pressing, and bench pressing, explosive is the way to go!

Since we have the concentric phase of the lift covered, lets talk about the eccentric. There are two schools of thought regarding this. The main argument is Using the Stretch Reflex vs. Not Using the Stretch Reflex. An example of using the stretch reflex can be seen with Military Press.

Lets say Bob is Military Pressing. He explodes on the concentric phase, and on the eccentric, he drops the bar down to his chin fairly quickly and ‘bounces’ a little bit at the bottom. HE IS NOT BOUNCING THE BAR OFF OF HIS CHEST OR ANY PART OF THE BODY. He is merely taking advantage of stored elastic energy at the bottom of the lift. it difficult to understand without actually doing it, but chances are you are doing it yourself. Just remember that you aren’t physically bouncing the bar off of your body, but you are using elastic energy at the bottom of the lift to help propel the bar up.

Obviously, after getting used to this technique you will be able to use more weight because you don’t have to control the eccentric phase of the lift, and you get that little ‘bounce’ which helps with the concentric. If you weren’t using the stretch reflex, you control the bar in the eccentric, maybe 2-3 seconds, pause for a split second at the bottom to eliminate momentum, and then drive the bar back up explosively. This requires more recruitment of motor units because you have to stabilize the bar and you have to generate the entire concentric portion of the lift by yourself.

So, Using the Stretch Reflex recruits less motor units but lets you use more weight. Not using the Stretch reflex recruits more motor units but limits the weight you use. You have to decide which style you want to use.

For athletes, performance-based lifters, etc. using the Stretch Reflex is a given because the reflex is dynamic and therefore conducive to whatever sport you play. However you also want to focus on hypertrophy as an athlete so you have a base/aid to increasing strength.

You can either do this by solely using the Stretch reflex and relying on the periodization of weight to stimulate your muscles, or you can alternate between using and not using the stretch reflex to get a blend of hypertrophy and strength.

Understand? Good. Im sick of typing.