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Continuing Education3 Credits

Acute Variables: Repetition Tempo

Repetition and exercise tempos for stability, muscle endurance, hypertrophy, strength and power. Effects of training to failure, super slow tempos, tempo vs load, and physiology of tempo training.

Course Description: Repetition Tempo

This course discusses the optimal repetition tempo for various training goals (a.k.a. rep tempo, rep speed, rep cadence, lifting tempo, tempo training, etc.). That is, this course discusses the evidence-based ideal tempos for endurance, hypertrophy, strength, power, athletic performance, functional training, and corrective exercise. The details discussed include the effect rep tempos have on muscle adaptations, short-term and long-term hormone concentrations, post-exercise protein synthesis, muscle growth, muscle fiber type proportions, EMG activity, and ideal tempos for improving the rate of force development for athletes.

Some findings from the included systematic review resulted in counter-intuitive, or at least less conventional recommendations. For example, volume is likely more important for hypertrophy goals (increasing muscle mass), suggesting that if sets are performed with reps to failure, and each session is performed with the intent to iteratively increase volume, then slow, moderate, or max velocity concentric tempos may be used. Note, because time-under-tension is essential for increasing volume, it may be ideal to maintain slower eccentric tempos. Alternatively, research suggests that repetition tempo is the most important variable when training for peak velocity/power. Explosive tempos are not only ideal, but they are also essential for improving power.

Movement professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, etc.) should consider acute variables essential knowledge for optimal exercise programming, and rep tempo is one of those acute variables. This course is part of our continued effort to optimize “acute variable” recommendations.

Additional Courses:

Repetition Tempo Recommendations

Goal Eccentric Isometric Concentric Most Influential Variable Activation Exercises 2-4 2-4 MaxV or explosive Volume per set and peak/initial force Endurance 2+ 0-2 MaxV or longer Volume per set Hypertrophy 2+ 0-2 MaxV or longer Volume per routine, repetitions until failure, and load Functional Strength 2+ 0-2 MaxV Velocity, volume per routine Max Strength Volitional 0 MaxV


  • Note, slower tempos may be appropriate for improvements in strength at slower velocities.

Power Explosive 0 Explosive

Explosive tempos include a quick pre-stretch, the shortest amortization phase possible, and a concentric contraction with the intent to release or leave the ground.

  • Note, fast and MaxV tempos are not sufficient for young adults and elite athletes.

Repetition Tempos Short Hand

  • Activation Exercises: 2:4:maxV
  • Endurance: 2+:0-2:maxV+
  • Hypertrophy: 2+:0-2:maxV+
  • Functional Strength: 2+:0-2:maxV
  • Maximum Strength: V:0:V (or event specific tempo)
  • Power: Explosive
    • # indicate seconds
    • "+" indicates "or longer"

CLients performing the bent over row exercise
Caption: CLients performing the bent over row exercise

Webinar: Acute Variables: Repetition Tempo

Study Guide: Acute Variables Repetition Tempo


Research Summary


3 sub-categories

Electromyographic (EMG) Activity

3 sub-categories


5 sub-categories

Repetition Tempo and Strength

2 sub-categories

Maximum Voluntary Concentric Tempo (MaxV)

2 sub-categories

Repetition Tempo and Power

2 sub-categories

Very and "Super" Slow Tempos

2 sub-categories

The Effect of Tempo on Repetition Max and Set Performance

2 sub-categories

Sample Program


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1. Introduction

00:00 00:00