Many athletes plan their strength training in order to improve their muscles and aesthetics. To do this, the focus is placed on the repetitions and series of each exercise, but another important factor is the repetition cadence.
The repetition cadence, also known as rhythm or tempo, is nothing but the speed with which the various phases of the corresponding exercise are executed. And it is that the speed of the repetitions has an impact and a direct and proportional repercussion with the muscular growth.
Find out which repetition cadence is best for muscle hypertrophy .
Basics to understand muscle hypertrophy
3 are the key mechanisms for muscle hypertrophy to occur .
- The mechanical stress or force that is applied to the muscle.
- The metabolic stress or increased blood metabolites
- The muscle damage or tissue response to exercise in the form of inflammation.
There is consensus in pointing to the adequate correlation of these 3 elements during exercise to ensure the gain of more muscle. On the other hand, we have to consider these other concepts for a holistic understanding of what is the ideal repetition cadence to achieve muscle hypertrophy .
- Intensity of exercise
- The time under tension or total time that a series lasts
- Rep range
- The quality of the replays
Tempo under tension (TUT) and hypertrophy
Even when we are focusing on what is the best repetition cadence for muscle hypertrophy, it is necessary to settle certain concepts, and the tempo under tension or time that maintains the load is one of the main ones. And it is that there is a tendency to err between the intensity and the quality of the stimulus.
The muscular hypertrophy is achieved when the efficiency of training and not the intensity of the stimulus is prioritized. However, special care must be taken with overtraining , that is, using continuous loads at maximum intensity. Hence the importance of controlling the tempo under tension during the routine .
This parameter is based on the control of the optimal time for the muscle to tension according to the objective pursued during the movement with loads. This control of the TUT implies the appearance of fibrillar micro-tears that are required for the pursued muscle growth.
Metabolic stress for muscle hypertrophy
If you want to improve muscle hypertrophy, you have to consider another variable element that has a direct impact on the muscles: metabolic stress.
The metabolic stress refers to the accumulation of metabolites (lactate, phosphate and hydrogen ions, among others) and decreased oxygen in muscle cells or hypoxia.
Have you felt your muscles burn after a few load training sessions? This is due to an excess of lactic acid in the muscle as a consequence of metabolic stress, but if there is a training routine that exemplifies what metabolic stress is and how it influences muscle hypertrophy, it is occlusive training or KAATSU . However, there is some discussion about the relationship between stress and muscle gain , beyond the mechanical stress of exercise.
Why, then, is metabolic stress thought to cause hypertrophy? This fact is directly related to the concept of fatigue as an incentive for hypertrophy . Different studies mention that fatigue increased the metabolites responsible for increasing muscle mass, and they called it “metabolic stress.”
What repetition cadence is best for hypertrophy?
Most athletes show a complete lack of control of repetition cadence in strength training sessions. This results in repetition cadences being too fast or too slow, in such a way that they can even become incomplete.
If your goal is to achieve greater muscle gain through hypertrophy, you are making a serious mistake: putting the load itself before the speed of execution and limiting the weight of the speed of execution and time under tension.
Does this mean that the load itself does not affect the increase in muscle mass? On the contrary. It has been repeatedly shown that there is a direct cause-effect relationship between training with high loads, time under tension and the appearance of muscle hypertrophy. However, fast rep cadences are better suited for greater muscle gain.
The optimal cadence to maximize muscle hypertrophy
Remember that the hypertrophic response of the muscles is based on the mechanical tension or force that is applied to the muscle during exercise: the greater the mechanical stress on the muscle, the greater the hypertrophy, and the greater the gain in muscle mass.
The ideal exercise cadence is different in each of the phases of exercise. In the concentric phase , fast and explosive patterns are prioritized, with a stable and controlled intensity. On the contrary, during the eccentric phase, as a downward movement, it is more controlled to make it slower (about two seconds). This ensures that the load continues to strain the muscle.
Thus, it is confirmed that the 2 phases are equally important to achieve the goal, the concentric phase being the one that requires more rhythm and repetition speed, while during the eccentric phase it is advisable to reduce the speed to fully notice the effect of the exercise.
How to increase time under tension in your routine
Now, how do you increase that time under tension? This is where the pause or rest between movements comes into play.
With these strategies we can control at all times the speed with which we are printing the movements of the exercise. And it is that in these pauses the activation of the muscles is maintained at 100%.
1. Staggered series
This is a good example of how to perform tense but progressive movements , in such a way that we adapt the muscle to the demand without suddenness.
These staggered sets require 10-12 RM blocks of repetitions, with breaks on the third rep. Here, the breaks mark the success of the routine: the adenosine triphosphate is recovered in the muscle.
2. Breathing series
They are identified mainly with squat exercises , although it is valid for any type of exercise. For these sets, the ideal is to perform 20 repetitions with your 10RM. In any case, it is known that repetition cadences of a minimum of 30 seconds are needed in TUT and a maximum of 60 seconds.
The ideal repetition cadence for gaining muscle
The repetition cadence is named, in general and with exceptions, with three numbers that correspond to the TUT of the eccentric-final-concentric movement.
- The first one, or time of the negative part, shows the seconds that the negative phase of the movement has to last.
- The second makes mention of the time of the isometric part or of pauses between repetitions.
- Finally, the third digit collects the voltage time of the positive part.
There is the possibility that during the positive movement we do not have a reference to the number, and instead an X appears. Its meaning indicates that the concentric phase must be carried out as quickly as possible.
We must differentiate between maximum strength , which is achieved with lower repetitions and more load, and muscle gain, which can use any range of repetitions that guarantees muscle hypertrophy. To do this, we must know and master the concept of muscle cadence that we have explained to you.
With these tips we are sure that you will improve your muscle gains in no time.