Does Tempo Impact Strength and Muscle Gains?

Dissecting an old idea to see how much it matters

Dylan Dacosta
In Fitness And In Health

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“If you want to build muscle, you have to focus on getting a lot of time under tension.”

This is something I used to believe and tell people. If someone wanted to build muscle, I’d have them go much slower during their lifts, especially during the eccentric phase of the lift. That’s just the part where your working muscle is lengthening under the load. Think of the way down on a bench press.

Now, this is not bad advice. It’s just not entirely true, either. Like many other ideas that become pervasive in the gym, there is some truth to this, but the idea takes on a life of its own and becomes rigid dogma.

I speak for myself here, but I think this is also common: the people who trope these beliefs the hardest are probably the ones who’ve read no real literature on the topic.

Leading to why I wanted to write this article. To add nuance and practical considerations to this idea.

What Does the Science Say?

There isn’t a tonne of research on this topic, but we do have some data to pull from. As I like to do, looking at a meta-analysis when available is a great place…

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Dylan Dacosta
In Fitness And In Health

I am a personal trainer and online coach from Toronto, Ontario. If you like my writing, check out my website! www.five-elements.ca