You’ve undoubtedly tried different programs in search of more size and deeper cuts. You’ve gone high rep, you’ve gone low rep, you’ve pyramided up, you’ve pyramided down hell, you’d do the freakin’ Hokey Pokey every day if some study somewhere proved that it packed on muscle.
One overlooked variable for many bodybuilders, however, is rep speed. The prevailing mantra is slow and steady, contracting the working muscle as forcefully as possible at the apex of each rep. Good advice, yes … but you can do better. In fact, by using the full spectrum of rep speed, from slow to fast, in your overall program, you can maximize your growth. Isn’t that really what it’s all about?
The Fast And The Furious
The speed of each rep you perform depends on the weight being lifted, the number of reps being performed and the level of fatigue of the muscle being trained. Usually, most reps are done in a slow and controlled manner, about one to two seconds for the positive and one to two seconds for the negative. Of course, as you go heavier and the muscle fatigue intensifies, the positive portion of the rep takes longer and the negative part of the rep accelerates. Generally speaking, typical speed is about three to four seconds per rep.
Training with reps that are faster than the typical three to four seconds can be beneficial for a number of reasons.
When you perform the positive portion of your reps explosively taking less than one second to complete them your fast-twitch muscle fibers are called into action to a greater degree. Fast-twitch muscle fibers produce the greatest muscle force (i.e., strength) and have the highest potential for growth.
The other major type of fibers found within your muscles slow-twitch fibers produce less force and are smaller than the fast-twitch fibers, but they have greater endurance capacity.
Targeting The Muscles
Fast reps may focus the workload more on the intended muscles.