Time equals muscle

A highly overlooked, but very useful tool for progressive resistance training is – Tempo. I will even go one step further and call tempo an essential tool for attaining optimum results from weight training. Yes, it’s true one can attain results performing reps just like every other hack in the gym, but I’m talking about optimum results.

If you’re going to spend the time in the gym, why not get the most out of it. The biggest reason most people who weight train don’t use tools like tempo is shear laziness. Performing a set to momentary failure, to the point where you can’t possibly get another rep is grueling. Few people have what it takes to train correctly, achieving 100% intensity. Hence, the legions of frustrated people in gyms across the US. Like any endeavor, doing your best takes hard work, focus and dedication.

So what is tempo? Tempo goes hand in hand with “time under tension” or TUT. TUT is simply the amount of time a muscle in under tension. To develop the optimum amount of muscle in the shortest amount of time, a set should last between 20 and 60 seconds.

Tempo is the speed of your reps. It is expressed and recorded by three or four digit numbers representing the seconds required to complete a rep. Example: 402 (four, zero, two) or 50X0 (five, zero, explosive, zero). Using the bench press, the first digit is the speed in which the weight is lowered (negative). The second digit is the amount of time one pauses once they’ve reached their chest. The third digit is the amount of time one takes to raise the weight (positive). The forth digit, if used, is the amount of time one takes before lowering the weight again. If an “X” is used, it means explosive, or as fast as possible.

Designing Your Workouts

Is it really necessary to count each rep in order to build strength and muscle? No. Is it necessary to lift under control and to vary your speeds to get the best most rapid gains per your genetics? Yes. When you perform an exercise under control, the muscles are truly doing the work. ?Slower?, not ?slow? speeds make the muscles work harder by eliminating momentum and bouncing. There?s nothing impressive about performing a bench press by allowing the weight to drop, bounce off your chest and then barely being able to complete the lift.

If tempo is used properly, the target muscle group is truly performing the exercise. Tempo forces one to lift in a very controlled manner, but like any training tool it should be used as an adjunct to your weight training program.

  

People are befuddled

The question, “What’s best workout for building strength and muscle?” has been the subject of heated debates for years. My answer is always the same. There is no one workout that is the best. There is no one workout that works for all. However, there are training principles that do apply to everybody.

Anatomically and physiologically we are identical. A bicep is a bicep and has the exact same function from person to person. An aorta is an aorta. Our anatomical structures may have different shapes and sizes, but they all function the same. This holds true for all tissues in our bodies from blood to hormones. If this weren’t true medicine could not exist. How could an anesthesiologist do his job if everybody were different?

Therefore, in order to get bigger, stronger muscles the same stimulus is needed. That stimulus is short, intense training sessions. Why short? Because we have known for centuries the body can either train long or train hard. A perfect example is to compare distance runners to sprinters. Because of the types of training, one is emaciated looking and one is muscular. Remember you can not sprint a mile. Is it difficult to run a mile, yes? But it is essentially impossible to run a mile with 100% intensity.

The other factor one needs to take into consideration for building bigger, stronger muscles is recovery. How much or how often can you train? Or better yet, how much “should” you train? Here is where the differences in genetics lie. Our muscles need the exact same stimulus in order to cause a chain of events that forces them to adapt by making bigger stronger muscles. However, the rate at which we are able to recover from these intense bouts is as different as the shapes and sizes of our bodies.

So what are you to do? If you’re training using the typical muscle building routine, which is 3 or more working sets per exercise and 4 or more sessions a week, and not getting anywhere, change it. First, reduce your sets per exercise by half and only train each body part once a week. If you still don’t make gains or you plateau after a short while, reduce your sets again. Remember, if you’re training with 100% intensity and you’re not making gains, you’re not recovering.

More is only better when it comes to sex and money.

  

Training Frequency

How often can, or more importantly, should I train per week? Optimum recovery time between training sessions is essential if one is going to continue to make progress. Training frequency, which is determined by ones recovery ability, is often a forgotten part of most training protocols. It never ceases to amaze me how many people train for months and years experiencing little or no success, and never consider the fact they may be doing too much.

Don’t be so concerned with how many training sessions you can handle per week. Be more concerned about the optimal amount. More is not always better. In fact, when somebody comes to me for advice because they’ve stopped making progress, usually I either reduce the workout volume or add days off. There is no reason in going to the gym if you’re not going to make progress. In every workout, if you have fully recovered, and you come ready to work, you should make progress, which is gauged by your strength.

How can anyone get stronger every workout? One can only bench press so much. Eventually, you have to hit a plateau. This is true. If one stays with the same exercises, the same number of reps and the same number of sets, progress may eventually stop. If the proper changes aren’t made at the right time, eventually the body adapts to the stimulus. And this is where the “art” of program design comes to play.

It’s easy to follow a workout. The real challenge is assuring the stimulus is sufficient and more importantly, you recovery from workout to workout so that progress continues over a long period of time. Sometimes this entails having the discipline to deviate from something that is not working. If you’re not making progrss, and you’re training with all out intensity, try taking an extra day off.

  

Q and A with Mike Furci


Q: Mike,
I was told to do dumbbell flys on an incline bench (35-40 degrees). wrong? better? worse?

A: Better? No. Different? Yes.
As the angel of the incline starts to go beyond 30% the only difference is the degree to which the deltoids are used. And while we’re on the subject of angled benches, don’t even bother with decline bench. It is a myth that it stimulates the bottom portion of the pec muscles more than the flat bench.

Also, if you’re performing different angles to change the shape of your pecs, it’s not going to happen. Your shape is genetically predetermined. Train with 100% intensity and stick with the basics.

Read the rest @ Q&A

  

Training Frequency

How often can, or much more importantly, should I train per week? Optimum recovery time between training sessions is essential if one is going to continue to make progress. Training frequency, which is determined by ones recovery ability, is often a forgotten part of most training protocols. It never ceases to amaze me, how many people train for months and years experiencing little or no success, and never consider the fact they maybe doing too much.

You can never train too hard, but you can train too much. Training ?too much? can actually be described in two ways. The first and probably the most common way, is training too often. If you are training with 100% intensity, you should not be able to train a body part any more frequently than once every 6-8 days. Everyone should realize that if you are still feeling it from the previous workout of the same body part, then it is best to take a few more days of rest. I have actually heard people say that they train even if they are sore because it is harder on the muscles. True, it is harder on the muscles, but not in a positive way. Ask yourself, ?Where is the logic in training a muscle before it is recovered?? The muscle hasn?t had a chance to adapt to a previous training session and you tear it down with another. Training may stimulate your muscles to grow, but they don’t grow during training. Proper nutrition and enough rest between sessions is what facilitates recovery and allows the muscles to grow. If you train before the muscle is recovered, you not only slow or put a halt to your progress, you increase your risk of injury.

  

Related Posts