Fast Vs. Slow Repetition for Functional Weight Training

Fast Vs. Slow Repetition for Functional Weight Training

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One phase of your repetition can be slow while the other may be fast.

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While neither fast nor slow repetitions are wrong, they produce very different results in muscle development. Functional exercise involves developing muscles in a manner that stimulates common movements such as bending, although the term has been subject to a variety of interpretations. By learning the effects of weight training with fast or slow repetitions, you can make an informed decision based on your fitness goals.

Understanding Functional Training

Functional weight training has been misinterpreted as a workout that resembles ballistic-exercise programs designed for highly competitive athletes. This often leads to injury for the average non-athlete, who often can't keep up with the physiological demands. Rather, functional weight training involves performing exercises to improve strength for everyday tasks, according to the American Council on Exercise. For example, the dumbbell goblet squat is a functional exercise because it builds the muscles you use to lift an item from the floor, such as a moving box.

Two Phases to Rep Speed

The speed at which you lift weights is referred to as tempo. Tempo is broken down into two phases: the concentric phase and eccentric phase. The concentric phase -- raising the weight -- involves the positive contractions. Lowering the weight by lengthening your muscles is the eccentric phase -- or negative contractions. Pro-athlete trainer Chad Waterbury recommends raising the weight fast and lowering the weight in a controlled manner to boost muscle growth and strength.

The Need for Rep Speed

Performing functional training exercises with fast-tempo reps can lead to an increase in muscle growth and strength. A study published in a 2011 issue of the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” determined that lifting weights fast -- two seconds positive, two seconds negative -- resulted in higher muscle growth and strength when compared with a slower tempo of two seconds positive and four seconds negative. The participants of the study were male lifters, who performed with the most they can lift in one repetition.

Taking Your Time

Slower repetitions have benefits that go beyond muscle development. “The New York Times” reported a study that found that nearly 1 million Americans between 1990 and 2007 were hospitalized for weight-lifting-related injuries. Performing “super slow” or slower repetitions may help improve your lifting form and decrease the risk of injury, according to Robert Kennedy's Super slow repetitions take about 10 seconds to lift and put down. A slow repetition can involve only the eccentric phase, such as two seconds to raise the weight and four seconds to lower it.