What Is The Best Exercise Tempo?

By controlling/varying exercise tempo you can manipulate both muscular time under tension and muscular tension to your advantage. In a nut-shell, the higher these two values, the greater the muscle stress and the greater your gains in performance and body composition are likely to be.

  • Slowing tempo on the eccentric (lowering) and isometric phases (top/bottom) of each movement will serve to increase the muscle time under tension.
  • Performing the eccentric phase (lowering) of each movement at a slower tempo will require more muscular tension to control the movement rather than letting gravity take you down.
  • Pausing at the top/bottom of movements will help eliminate stored elastic energy from your connective tissues meaning your muscles must produce more force to return to the starting position.
  • Accelerating through the upwards phase of each movement (concentric phase) will require greater muscular tension as you move quickly against gravity.

There is no perfect exercise tempo we should all be following but a good place to start is with the following formula:

  • Perform the lowering phase of each exercise slowly and smoothly to increase time under tension
  • Briefly pause at the mid-point of each movement to eliminate elastic energy from your connective tissues
  • Accelerate through the upwards phase of each movement to maximize muscular tension and force output