Ive been trying to come to some conclusions on tempo lately, but haven’t had luck.
I found this article:
Which seemed good at first, but there are many points the author makes that I highly disagree with, so im not too sure as to how applicable the suggestions are.
Also, other methods like CW’s and Westside’s do not completely coincide with those from the article.
The tempo suggestions tend to change based on an individual’s goals. Strength/hypertrophy/endurance, all have different tempo recomendations, but many athletes want strength, hypertrophy, and endurance, so either an athlete must periodize tempo to achieve all three, or there is a tempo that will accomplish all three. Most suggestions should be aimed at recruiting as many MU’s as possible for the duration of the set.
***Also, im against temo recomnedations that suggest specific times, like 4211. Everyone is different, and its not practical to focus that much on tempo.
So heres what im thinking currently:
Concentric: ALWAYS accelerate as fast as possible.
Eccentric: For most exercises, most of the time, as fast as possible. As long as your not bouncing the weight off your chest (bench) or bouncing off a box (box squats), the faster the eccentric, the greater the force required to reverse the direction of movement. (Obviously with heavier weights, you cant go too fast, or you wont be able to reverse the movement. Hence “as fast as possible”)
Pause in stretched position: A pause of 2-5 seconds can be beneficial to overide the stretch reflex, for certain movements. (Im not too sure as to the application of this but im guessing that by overiding the stretch reflex, your able to better stimulate strength at the beginning of the movement.
Pause in the contracted position: Im not sure about this one either. I can see why someone might recomend pausing and squeezing at the top of a chinup or a row, but IMO if your able squeeze and hold at the top, then your not using enough weight.
Now I know people have gotten big, with lighter weights, longer durations and slower tempos, but for the sake of this thread lets just we are only concerned with “functional hypertrophy” for a competative athlete.
I often see “bodybuilding” prescriptions of slow tempos both eccentric, and concentric that suggest a “mind muscle connection” and squeezing for maximal contraction throughout the ROM. The only way you can increase muscular tension in the agonist muscles with a less than maximal tempo, is by contracting antagonist muscles. (ex: Squeezing the biceps hard during a submaximal slow bicep curl, means that your triceps are producing force to slow the weight)
It seems to me that this would be counterproductive for an athlete, because decreased antagonist activation and muscular coordination is one of the factors that leads to increased strength.
SO IT SEEMS A MAXIMAL SPEED CONCENTRIC SHOULD BE USED EVEN WHEN AIMING FOR HYPERTROPHY
As for eccentric tempo, im leaning towards one of the two following options:
A) Same as for strength
B) Lockout at the top, and instead of decreasing force to lower the weight, increase antagonistic force to “pull the weight down”. (EX: Lockout shoulder press, and use lats and biceps to slowly pull the weight down)
Lastly, it seems like endurance should be trained similar to the above two protocols. Endurance results from an increased demand for energy and oxygen on muscles. What better way to demand more energy and oxygen than to recruit as many motor units as possible in a repeated manner.
Concentric: ALWAYS as fast as possible
Eccentric: Usually as fast as possible, but may be beneficial to do eccenrics of 2-5 seconds, in which you squeeze and pull the weight down.
Pause in stretched position: Beneficial part of the time.
Pause in contraced position: Beneficial part of the time for certain movements, but im not sure as to what the application of this might be.
What do you guys think? The above ideas? or maximal speed on everything all the time, while occasionally using a pause in the stretched position?