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Why Doing Slow Reps is Counterproductive

So I was in the gym the other day and a friend of mine was bench pressing using a super slow tempo, I asked him why he was doing this (I already knew the answer) and his reply basically entailed that he wanted to keep constant tension on the muscles in order to “work” them more.


Now I know my friend isn’t alone in thinking that using a super slow tempo is going to result in more time under tension and therefore more muscle gains. Super slow training is one of those things that sounds good on paper but just doesn’t deliver in the real world. I think this really stems from old bodybuilding cultures in where people were told to keep constant tension on the muscle to stimulate growth and that the pursuit of aesthetics or a bodybuilding like physique does not require one to be strong in essence.  To that argument I’d have to say why limit yourself? Why develop a strong muscular looking body that lacks real strength? To me that just seems sort of “fake”. You can have both, in fact you should strive for both!

If you can do X amount of weight for some “super slow MI40 TUT  burn” sets then you can definitely handle more weight in an explosive manner, and remember that more weight on the bar = mo gainz! If you want to get big then you’ve gotta lift big.

Going back to some high school physics we know that Power = Force x Speed

The stronger you are the more force you can generate and the faster you can move a certain weight. No matter what, on the big lifts (any compound exercise but mainly the powerlifts and olympic lifts) you should be trying to move the weight as fast as possible. Note this doesn’t mean use horrible form or use cheat reps, this means moving a maximal or submaximal weight as fast as you can while maintaining control (you don’t need 10 second reps to maintain control fyi).

From the equation above you can see that by moving the weight slower (reducing speed) we ultimately limit our power output and force production.


To sum it all up I invite you to look at the strongest dudes in your gym or around the world for that matter. All the strongest dudes train with speed and power, you won’t see anyone involved in any strength or athletic sport training slowly.Size comes with strength, using light weights for slow reps will not get you strong.If you wanna get more time under tension then up the volume, do more sets, do more reps, increase your frequency, just don’t start de-training yourself using these super slow reps. Focus on moving maximal and submaximal weights as fast as possible in order to develop power/explosiveness and recruit more muscle fibres!


Lift Strong and Conquer!



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author: Louis Whenlock

Hi I’m Louis, a passionate freelance Personal Trainer on a mission to cut through the BS and gimmicks of the fitness world and deliver honest, hard earned results to my clients.

Lift Strong and Conquer!
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