The Most Frustrating Gym Mistake I See as a Personal Trainer

If you want to gain muscle, you must be willing to do this

David Liira, Kin.
Jan 20 · 5 min read

Lifting Tempo is Everything

When we look at lifting tempo, four numbers must come to mind (see photo). Please note that these ratios will change depending on volume and exercise — there is no one right answer. The overall goal here is to go through the eccentric phase for twice as long as your concentric phase. At the end of the day, don’t overthink the numbers too much. Simply working towards actively lowering your lifts will make a huge difference, and you’ll find that the time will take care of itself.

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Image from CrossFitCityLine

New to this type of training? Try a 4–1–2–1 lifting tempo and see how it changes the game!

Here’s the trick. It’s easy to visualize this pattern when we’re lifting an object. What about when we’re doing a lat pulldown, however? This is when understanding the difference between concentric (muscle shortening) and eccentric (muscle lengthening) phases come in handy. This concept is simple as long as you lift with good form on the shortening phase, and then actively slow down the lengthening phase. Make sense?

What Science Has to Say About Slowing Things Down

If you look at the literature, the benefits of adding a controlled eccentric phase to your training go far beyond muscle gain. Upon reading several studies, here is a quick summary of what you can expect from slowing your lifting:

  • Enhanced motor control and neural benefits
  • Strength and hypertrophy gains (depending on tempo)
  • Strong rehabilitation effect for injury recovery
  • Boosted coordination and muscle recruitment

“We conclude that eccentric training is the most effective for muscle hypertrophy and strength gain.” — Farthing & Chilibeck

One benefit that should not be overlooked is the mindfulness aspect of resistance training. By controlling your lifting tempo, you will be much more focused on the task at hand, rather than mindlessly rushing from one exercise to the next. Yes, this eccentric phase will deliver on the physiological front, but it is also much more mentally stimulating as well.

In Closing,

Research proves that one of the best ways to maximize muscle growth is to slow things down. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but you’ll quickly realize why this is true once you start training this way. Whether you’re performing a bicep curl or a lat pulldown, choose to decelerate the lengthening phase of each rep.

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In Fitness And In Health

Inspiring stories related to health, fitness and the pursuit of well-being.

David Liira, Kin.

Written by

Kinesiologist. Writing on health and the human condition. Clap and I clap back. www.davidliira.com

In Fitness And In Health

A fast-growing health and fitness community dedicated to sharing knowledge, lessons, and suggestions to living happier, healthier lives.

David Liira, Kin.

Written by

Kinesiologist. Writing on health and the human condition. Clap and I clap back. www.davidliira.com

In Fitness And In Health

A fast-growing health and fitness community dedicated to sharing knowledge, lessons, and suggestions to living happier, healthier lives.

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