I am sure we can all agree on how obsessed we get with how many reps we can do and how much weight we can lift. Having a goal when training is important, but as I see all the time in the weight room, a lot of lifters start to use momentum in order to lift more weight. As a lifter, you start to gain a false sense of achievement as you are not utilizing your muscles effectively, and chronic fast tempo training in the long run will lead to injuries, whether it is in or outside of the weight room due to compensatory movement patterns. Fast tempo lifting style does not effectively utilize our muscles and eliminates the eccentric effect of the lift. If you are looking for gains in strength and muscle size, I suggest you start to utilize the eccentric part of the lift to sufficiently stress the muscle fiber.
There are two main components to the lift. The effort phase (concentric phase) involves the muscle contracting in order to produce movement whether it be a pushing or a pulling movement. For example, pulling the Lat Pulldown bar towards your chest is the concentric phase as your Latissimus Dorsi and Bicep muscles contract. The second phase is the recovery phase (eccentric phase) which involves you returning to the start position allowing the muscle to lengthen. So for the Lat Pulldown example, returning the bar from your chest to the start position would be the eccentric phase as your Latissimus Dorsi and Bicep muscles are lengthening.
Your muscles are able to control more weight eccentrically than it can concentrically. So make sure you focus on controlling the recovery phase rather than just focusing on the effort phase. A standard lifting tempo should be 2 seconds concentric and 2 seconds eccentric. If you slow down the eccentric phase, you will notice that the lift will feel harder, without even changing the weight! I would suggest going no slower than a 6-second eccentric phase, as this requires a great level of control and stability.
As will all types of training, abusing one principle will lead to overuse and increase your likelihood of injuries so, make sure you periodize your training varying tempo every two weeks.
Start to vary your tempo with lifting and notice the increase in your strength. For more information on how to incorporate appropriate tempo into your workouts, contact a FAST® location near you at www.fast-training.com.