Slow Eccentrics / Tempo and Hypertrophy

I want to give a shout out to John A Davis for commenting on one of my training session video’s asking this question.

“I notice you pump pretty quick on your up and then just seem to drop it on your down. Is this the way to do it? I was under the impression that the down is slower than the up, using resistance to build muscle.”

My response was that I lift “fast enough to move the weight, slow enough to control it & avoid injury”   Which is true for the most part but there are times when I have slowly lowered the bar or been more explosive during speed work.  In any event it got me to thinking and questioning how I train, which I think everyone should do on occasion.  It led me to a couple recent articles by Dan Ogborn on his blog site on this very subject that I thought I would share.  Some great info here!


After my recent post on the relationship of tempo to work and time under tension, I thought I’d take a look at the role of slow eccentric actions in hypertrophy training. In my research into tempo recommendations being offered around the net, the most common was to use slow eccentric tempos to maximize muscle growth. Despite the prevalence of this recommendation, more often than not it was offered up without any citations to support it.

There’s no question that controlling the eccentric portion of the lift is important for technique, but does exaggerating the eccentric phase by slowing the movement really confer a hypertrophic advantage? Sure, nobody likes having a few cracked ribs after a set of bench presses, and I’m sure most of you don’t opt for careless eccentrics, but is there any hypertrophic value in prolonging the eccentric phase? [More]


I’ve spent much of the last few months (and posts) thinking about the basic training variables that influence hypertrophy, namely how altering training intensity alters the hypertrophic results from training. The main idea of these posts was that, when taken to failure, light training loads (30%-1RM) can produce comparable hypertrophy to high intensity loads (80-90%-1RM). While the location of growth may vary, being higher in type I fibres with low-load, type II fibres with high intensity (1), ultimately, whole-muscle hypertrophy is very similar across intensities when trained to failure (2).

From a training perspective, this suggests that load (intensity) compensates for time-under-tension, so that as load decreases, total work and time under tension (TUT) increase (3).This was clearly demonstrated by Burd et al (3), who found a somewhat similar protein synthetic response to a single training session at either 90%-1RM or 30%-1RM to failure, an effect that didn’t occur with light load, work-matched training (non-failure). Their subsequent training study validated that comparable hypertrophy occurs in untrained subjects trained in a similar fashion (80%-1RM vs 30%-1RM) over a number of weeks (2). [More]

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