Fast Reps vs Slow Reps
You’ve probably already gotten more conflicting advice than you’d care to hear on fast reps vs slow reps. And you’ve probably also read countless articles from experts giving you different claims, all ‘backed by science’ of course. Well, I don’t claim to be an expert so I’m going to give you my take from my own personal experience.
First let’s talk about resistance rather than reps. It’s often been said that to build muscle tissue you need to overload the muscle. And one of the more effective methods of overloading muscle is through extreme resistance, or rather, lifting heavy weights. This proves to be true if you’re looking to gain strength where you may not be as concerned about shaping or building the muscle (although at some point these all go hand in hand; one will eventually follow the other). But you can also increase the level of resistance without adding weight. If you slow down the reps you’ll find that the weight will be tougher to lift and the number of reps you’d normally lift with that weight will be reduced.
Your Goal: Gaining Strength or Building Muscle?
One of the most important factors when talking fast reps vs slow reps are your goals. Are you a powerlifter and trying to get stronger? Or are you going for more of a bodybuilder’s physique in which your goal is to build the muscle tissue over gaining strength? We just talked about this above. Again, one will follow the other. But the prominent one, strength or building/shaping muscle, will be a result of how you train (and eat, of course). In any case, whether to perform fast or slow reps comes into play here.
Often times powerlifters and strength training athletes aim for explosive reps, which we’re calling ‘fast reps.’ This is due to attaining a maximum power output leading to more weight being lifted. Slower repetitions may also play a role in some aspects of strength training. A great method to getting stronger is performing negative reps. This is where you take more time on the negative portion of the rep. Take bench press, for example. Once you’re at the peak of the rep you would take several seconds lowering the weight towards your chest. This would result in a slower rep, putting more strain on the muscle. However, most power training athletes I’ve known go for more explosive, fast reps.
Bodybuilding training is a bit different from strength training. The goal for bodybuilding is to pump as much blood into the muscle as possible. I’ve seen many pump out fast reps to achieve this. But I tend to get a better pump when I slow the reps down and focus on contracting the muscle throughout the rep. I call these controlled reps. Using slow and controlled reps allows you to focus on the muscle throughout the lift. The goal is the build muscle tissue over lifting more weight for strength.
Conclusion: Fast Reps vs Slow Reps
There’s actually a few conclusions here. For starters, if building muscle is your primary goal I believe that the muscle confusion principle works best. I’m constantly making changes to my workout routine. This applies to reps too, whether it’s fast vs slow reps, or high reps vs low reps. I’ll give you a direct answer and again, this is only my opinion from my own experience. I feel that explosive training is best for gaining strength. Of course there are various methods powerlifters use for getting stronger. Powerlifting is based on moving as much weight as possible and explosive training, which would be fast reps, seems to work best.
For building muscle tissue and bodybuilding training I feel like the best method of the two is slow reps. You simply use more muscle fibers with slower, controlled reps. As I stated in the beginning I’m talking from my own experience. I’ve tried many techniques and I still go by the concept of periodization with my training, making slight modifications to my workouts from time to time. This happens when I feel I’ve hit a plateau in my training.
Train with Passion,