Controlled eccentrics = more muscle!
Found a study that looked at bar speed and hypertrophy. There have been studies that have compared bar speed during lifting before, but never a change in only one part of the movement.
Let me explain the convention for writing tempo before we go on here. Tempo conventionally is written as 4 numbers. A 1 second concentric and 4 second eccentric exercise done with no pause at either end of the motion would be ‘4010.’ The first number ‘4’ is the count for eccentric. The second number is a pause at the bottom of the rep, in this case there is none, hence the zero. The third number is concentric speed. The last number is a pause at the top.
Think of a squat, you do a 3 second eccentric, followed by a 2 second pause at the bottom, follow that with a 2 second concentric and a 1 second pause at the top before your next rep. That would be written as “3221.”
Now where were we! Like I was saying, there have been some studies that have compared speed across both parts of a movement. Comparing a “4040” tempo with a “1010” tempo. This particular study compared a “4010” tempo with a “1010,” tempo.
The results say that the markers for strength and hypertrophy are stronger in the “4010,” group. Admittedly there was no statistical difference between the groups (simply meaning the difference wasn’t big enough to be noted,) however there was a marked difference!
The way I see it is like this. The study was only 12 athletes and for only 12 weeks. Bodybuilding is a function of many many years, not just a few months. So although across a 12 weeks study the difference in strength and size was not statistically different, if you were to carry this difference across 12 YEARS that it would likely have then a much more obvious impact.
So for you the reader looking to maximize their time in the gym…
-Slow down those eccentric movements – control your bar!
-Keep the concentrics a hard contraction.
-Repeat this over many many years!
Now go hit the gym!
Here’s the study I mentioned