How to use tempo to get more muscle growth

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When you are lifting weights in the gym do you have an idea of what rep range and tempo you should be aiming for to reach your goal? One of the main issues (mainly with men…sorry guys) is that people pick a weight that is too heavy and blast out 10 reps with no regard for control or contraction of the target muscle group. The rep ranges say they are training for hypertrophy (muscle growth) but the rep speed says they are training for strength.

Confused? Let me explain…

Rep ranges

This is the amount of reps you will do per set. Generally for a strength based workout you will be aiming for anywhere between 1-5 reps per set. For a hypertrophy workout you may be aiming for somewhere between 6-15 (sometimes up to 20+) reps per set depending on the style of training you are doing.


This is the speed at which you lift the weight. Each lift will have both an eccentric (downward) and concentric (upward) phase. With strength training your goal is to move the weight from point A to point B and that is it. You will not be focusing as much on muscle contraction and mainly on getting that weight up.

Hypertrophy training is different, you want to spend longer on each rep to maximise the amount of work your muscle has to do. This in turn will recruit more muscle fibres and elicit a greater response in terms of muscle growth. The best way to do this is to spend 2-3 seconds on the eccentric part of the lift and contract the muscle as hard as you can throughout the concentric part.

Take the bench press for example…This would mean a 3 second lowering of the bar onto the chest, maybe a 1 second pause before pushing the bar up. Then repeat.

Muscle contraction

You should look at lifting a weight as not ‘lifting’ but ‘contracting’ your muscle against the weight. If we look at the bench press again, during the upwards phase you should be trying to squeeze your pectorals as hard as possible against the weight so you can feel them working every time. If you can’t feel your target muscle working then maybe you need to consider dropping the weight or doing a full warm up to make sure that muscle group is ready to work effectively.


If you have any questions on this then please let me know in the comments below or get in touch through my contact page here

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