T Nation

TUT and poundages

For 5 weeks now, after having read a great deal on this site, I decided to implement a hypertrophic program. I based this on the fact that all my lifting in the past 6 months was accomplished with basically a 1111 tempo - always fast and hard, which would tend to develop strength, not size.

I realized that this was probably limiting my TUT, so I decided for the next 2 months at least, to implement a 4141 pace on every exercise. I based this tempo on the idea that the best TUT for muscles is between 40-70 seconds per set, and for a rep range of 5-7, this would put me right in there.

So, following the articles I read on here, I dropped my weights to about 50-60% of my 1RM, and started the program. I work out about 5 days a week.

I began ok, but I noticed after the two weeks that I was very, very tired. I work out about 5 times a week, and I pretty much tripled the tension on my muscles, so I didn’t think much about it. It’s only an adjustment I had to make. But…since then, I’m just getting more and more tired. Worse, my reps were starting to drop…instead of making 5-8 every time with the weights like when I began, it was more like 4-6, and I wasn’t getting the ‘burn’ I wanted. In the time that I have been doing this, my muscles look a little bigger, but softer - less defined. I’ve added 6 pounds in this time, as well.

Last night, my buddy came to the gym with a stopwatch, and I thought it would be neat to time ourselves as we lifted. To my amazement, my “1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi” counting style was far slower than I thought - a single set was taking 90-110 seconds!

Now, doing the above method always resulted in a massive pump, no matter what the exercise. Sticking to a strict 60 second upper limit, we found that we were able to handle much higher poundages, but not really getting that ‘burn’ or ‘pump’ we were before. Does this matter? Other thoughts occured to me as well…what’s the difference between doing 50 seconds of super fast curling with a heavier weight as opposed to a few (3-5) of half your 1RM in the same time period?

I'm just wondering in which direction I should aim myself - lighter weights with the super-slow counting, or heavier ones with strict 4 second eccentric and contraction motions. I should point out that with 60 seconds or so of lifting and lowering the weight, I was able to lift around 80% of my 1RM. The literature on here states that it has to be 50-60%, so I don't know if this idea would be benefitting me.

Thanks for any ideas.

One word: Periodize! And don’t forget your good buddy, the low-rep set. That is, if you’re interested in hypertrophying your fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Strato, congratulations on educating yourself! Nice to see someone who takes the time to actually do some reading and try something out before asking for opinions.

As for advice, I would lay off the superslow stuff. I’ve never seen anyone make any real gains off a program like that, whereas there are a lot of people who do make gains following a “real” 4141 tempo prescription.

As Ike said, you have to mix things up fairly frequently. So if you’ve spent more than two months at a certain rep/tempo setting, it’s probably time to change it. Also, any program will have a different effect on different people. No matter what Poliquin or King say, if it’s not working for you, change the program. (This assumes that you’re actually following the program correctly, of course…)

Finally, as far as recovery is concerned, if you’re doing more work (and you are if you’ve slowed things down that much), you need to do more recovering. It only makes sense. Try using a four-day split instead of five and see how you feel.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for the insights. The super-slow stuff is starting to result in lower reps, so I think you’re right in that it may not be working for me. I was very surprised to discover a rep was taking 10-12 seconds. I do think also I should cut down the workouts, too - my workouts kept coming out around 2 hours, and I’d walk away feeling whipped instead of pumped. On the upside, I put on some good weight for the month.

I’m concerned though because I’m still having my ‘headache’ problem I posted about a few days ago - it’s truly incapacitating on benches, and this is with lighter weights (and no, I don’t do neck-specific exercise - but this pain is ‘in’ my head anyway, if it makes any sense) and I really want to load up the bar with some maximal poundages for a month or so.

I love this site. What a resource of knowledge! I used to think my Arnie bodybuidling encyclopedia was as good as it gets.

Everything has its place, and periodization is of course important, but I do slow concentrics very rarely. I find keeping the eccentrics nice and slow (3-4 seconds) and the concentics fast is ideal, and I follow that rep execution pattern almost all the time. I think a lot of the bad stuff you’re experiencing would end if you tried it.