Should you be lifting heavy weights as fast as possible or light weights with a slow controlled tension if you want maximum muscle growth? In this video, I’m going to show you the best way to perform your reps if you want to build muscle and create muscle hypertrophy from your workouts. I’m going to break out the science and show you four examples head to head so you can make sure you don’t waste any more time in the gym using methods that are inferior.
There are many different ways that you can lift a weight. Often times, it doesn’t matter which exercise you perform since the principles apply to them all. The more important question you should be asking yourself is what your training goal is at the moment. For instance, if you are training for strength then your goal with every exercise should be to make it as efficient as possible. On a bench press for example, you would want to be sure that you are pressing the bar with good speed along an optimal bar path with all muscles contributing to the lift.
If on the other hand you were trying to use the bench press as a hypertrophy exercise for the chest in particular, you would want to find a way to lessen the contribution of the triceps and shoulders and more favorably press with the chest. In addition, you would want to make the movement more inefficient by spending more time on the negative of each rep as well as holding and squeezing the contraction of the pecs at the top of every rep as much as possible.
If instead you were trying to train for hypertrophy and muscle growth then you would want to apply this concept of movement inefficiency to every exercise you did. In this video, I use the lat pulldown taken to failure as an example exercise. Now, here is where you would want to squeeze your elbows down tight into your sides and back behind your body to maximally activate the lats. You would want to think less about using the forearms to curl the bar down towards you or your biceps to pull too much on every rep.
This would create as much tension as you could and direct it to the lats. In order to speed up the hypertrophy of a particular muscle, it is this focused tension that comes in handy to get the job done. That said, you wouldn’t discredit the value of simply taking your 10 rep max on the lift and just performing reps with a movement as a whole focus instead of directing your attention to any one muscle over the other.
This is where you would see the reps start out rather easy and peak at the highest difficulty level towards the final 2-3 reps. If you had opted to go with a slightly lighter weight however and made every single rep much more difficult by focusing tension into the lats and using intensifying techniques like slow negatives and paused reps, you would elicit a greater stimulus for hypertrophy versus just pure strength.
Check out the different variations shown here and see the different effect each has on your ability to build muscle and strength. When you are done watching and are ready to start performing a program where I lay out all the workouts, sets and reps you need to do to build muscle fast, head over to the link below and get the program best suited to your goals.