It’s not enough to simply press the barbell up and down to make muscles grow. To achieve the best and the fastest results you have to lift weights with certain speed. It’s called – the tempo.
We can divide the repetition during any exercise into 3 phases of movement. Bench Press will be the best example:
- positive (concentric) – pressing the barbell up,
- static (isometric) – holding the barbell on fully extended arms,
- negative (eccentric) – bringing the weight down to your chest.
Positive phase (concentric) – pressing barbell up should be done fast. Nearly as fast as we can as long as we do it under control, with a proper technique. The fastest we lift the weight the more muscle fibers is activated and the biggest force is created, therefore the biggest gains in size and strength are noticed. Usually it takes about 1 second to press the weight up.
Another phase of movement is called static (isometric) – holding the weight on fully extended arms. This part is also significant – we have to pause for a moment – again for 1 second.
Negative (eccentric) part of repetition is very important in bodybuilding. Bringing the weight down to your chest has to be done with a right speed as well. Lift it down slower than pressing it up – about 2 seconds – until it touches your chest – always full range of motion. Without stopping at the bottom start another repetition with the same pattern.
To achieve the greatest results we have to focus on ‘feeling’ the muscles. Tense them to press the barbell up. Squeeze them as hard as you can at the top and lift the weight down slower keeping your muscles contracted. As a beginner probably you will not be able to tense or ‘feel’ your muscles but keep practicing. Imagine in your head that you are using these muscles to perform the exercise. This way you will learn it. It’s called mind-muscle connection and once you’ll master this technique you’ll notice immediate growth. You’ll understand then what bodybuilding is about.
Short summary of the right lifting speed:
- positive (pressing up) – 1 second,
- static (isometric hold at the top) – 1 second,
- negative (lifting down) – 2 seconds.
Lifting speed may vary depending from our objectives. And like with anything else our muscles adapt to the tempo as well. That’s why sometimes we have to change it. We might perform very slow repetitions , with a pause on the bottom, sometimes very fast without paying much attention to negatives and another time isometric holds or negatives only to achieve desired results.
However the basic and the most effective tempo to build muscle mass is the one I’ve described above. It is very important aspect of bodybuilding and I want you to pay a special attention to this. If you used to lift the weight up and down without any pattern probably you will have to lower the weight a bit however implementing this technique into your workout will cause bigger pump, better ‘feeling’ worked muscle and nearly the immediate increase in size and strength.