best rep speed

Regardless of what type of workout you’re following, which specific muscle group you’re training or what exercise you’re performing, at the end of the day, all of your bodybuilding efforts in the gym stem from one simple action: the individual rep.

There are several different components involved in executing the highest quality reps possible, including the specific form you use, how much weight you load up and the speed of the movement.

In today’s post I’m going to quickly discuss the last component by addressing the best rep speed for muscle growth that will optimize your overall gains in size and strength.

The Anatomy Of The Rep

As you probably already know, each individual rep consists of two basic phases: the concentric (also called the “positive”) and the eccentric (also called the “negative”).

The concentric portion is the “lifting” phase of the rep (such as the pressing motion of a bench press or the curling motion of a bicep curl) while the eccentric is the “lowering” phase of the rep (such as the lowering motion of a chin-up).

Let’s go over each phase and discuss how it should be approached for the best results…

The Best Rep Speed On The Concentric Phase

concentric rep

The available research examining this portion of the rep is clear: in order to optimize muscle growth and strength gains, move the weight as quickly as you can with maximum force.

You should never assign a set speed to this phase of the rep or worry about precisely how many seconds it takes you to lift the weight. Your only job here is to move the resistance as explosively as you can while maintaining proper form at all times.

If you’re able to specifically perform the concentric phase in, say, 4 seconds, then you simply aren’t using a heavy enough weight.

At the beginning of the set your concentric reps will naturally be done at a faster pace, and as you become increasingly fatigued and continue pushing with full force, the rep speed will naturally slow down as you approach muscular failure.

If you’re working around an injury of some kind or need to train cautiously for whatever reason, then go ahead and slow down the concentric phase a bit and perform it in a more controlled manner. You’ll still achieve great results this way.

However, if you otherwise have no issues and are aiming to maximize muscle growth and strength gains, a fast and explosive concentric rep speed will be optimal.

Again though, it goes without saying that proper form is of paramount importance here.

A fast, explosive concentric rep is going to be ideal, but only if it’s being done with perfect technique that maximizes the use of the targeted muscle and minimizes the use of momentum.

If you’re jerking the weights up and down and are using unrelated muscles to assist you in the lift, all you’re really doing is increasing your chances of injury.

The Best Rep Speed On The Eccentric Phase

eccentric rep

Rather than worrying about an exact speed to lower the weight at, the most important aspect of the eccentric phase is control.

Both the lifting and lowering portion of each rep play an important role in stimulating muscle hypertrophy, and if you simply drop the weights back down and let gravity take over, you’re largely eliminating the benefits of this phase.

You don’t have to take the “super slow” mentality here, but as an overall guideline, perform your eccentric reps at a speed of between 2-4 seconds.

This speed ensures that you’re minimizing the use of momentum throughout your set and that your muscles are actively fighting against the weight as it is being lowered, rather than simply letting gravity do the work.

The Best Rep Speed For Muscle Growth: Recap

overhead dumbbell press

So, just to quickly review:

1) Perform the concentric phase of each rep as quickly and explosively as you can while maintaining perfect form at all times.

2) Lower the weight under strict control over 2-4 seconds.

This will ensure that every rep of every workout is being performed in a way that delivers the maximum muscle building return on your efforts.

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