Weight vs. tempo of reps

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pdellorto
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Weight vs. tempo of reps

Post by pdellorto » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:46 am

I have a question - which is more important, increasing the weight, or keeping the same tempo for your reps all the way through?

Specifically, right now I'm doing 3x5x112.5 kg deadlifts (not great, I weigh 85 kg). My reps looked like this:

Set 1: 1-2-3-4-5.
3 mins rest
Set 2: 1-2-3-4-5 (5th rep was slow)
3 mins rest
Set 3: 1-2....3.....4.....5 (all reps slow, set the bar down and stood up between reps 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5).

My first set all smooth all the way through. The second set was pretty smooth until the 5th rep, which took about twice as long as the 4th to lock out. The third set was more like a 2-rep set followed by 3 singles, just with from 5-15 seconds rest between reps.

My previous two weeks looked similar to this - first week at 110 I got pretty much the same reps and pauses but couldn't get all five reps on the last set, then the second week was 3x5x110 straight through, with only the final rep on the 3rd set being difficult.

So I wondering...do I look at this as 3x5x112.5 done successfully and up the weight next week (probably to 115), or do I stay at this weight another week, maybe two, until I can get 3 sets just like the first - straight through, no pauses except to de-weight the bar when I set it down. I know I can increase the rest times, but eventually this will happen again...just at a higher weight with longer rests between them.

Thanks,

Peter

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Re: Weight vs. tempo of reps

Post by KPj » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:49 am

pdellorto wrote:I have a question - which is more important, increasing the weight, or keeping the same tempo for your reps all the way through?
Depends on your goals. If your increasing strength then increasing the weight would take priority. But then again, to increase explosive strength, 'bar speed' is very important, so it's probably one of those 'it depends' answers, regardless of your goals.

In terms of size, i reckon it could also go both ways. We all know heavier weights will increase muscles mass to an extent, but so does 'time under tension', hence the infamous "6-10" reps per set for hypertrophy.

I would say that unless your an athlete, the difference is negligible - whether you move up weight once you can do the desired number of reps Vs whether to move up weight when you can do the desired reps at the same bar speed.

But then again, if your always lifting at the same 'bar speed', then surely your always lifting at the same 1RM percentage, and therefore strength and / or size gains wouldn't be optimal......?

I actually hit the reply button with a concrete answer, but i'm not so sure now, hence, it's just turned into a brainstorming post, lol. Interested to see other responses.

On a side note, your question reminded me of an article written on t-nation a few months ago which is related to your question,

Fast to Big by Chad Waterbury
http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1650066&cr=

It basically details a method of lifting where you terminate your sets when the bar speed slows down - you lift as fast as you can, but when the bar starts to move slower than it did on the first rep, you stop. If memory serves correctly, it's a hypertrophy focused article but I could be wrong.

KPj

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Post by pdellorto » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:03 am

I guess I am an athlete, I compete MMA...but I'm not a strength athlete which I think is what you mean.

My goal is to get stronger, period, regardless of power production or size. I do my endurance training and power training on different days, this workout is purely for getting strength. Size isn't a big concern...it's a slight negative because although it looks nice I need to worry about weight classes.

I'll check the article, thanks. Don't worry brainstorming, that's helpful too. Maybe more so than a simple yes or no answer. Give me stuff to think about myself.

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Post by Matt Z » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:15 am

On deadlifts it's good to reset after each rep. Just try to keep the rest between reps to a minimum. 5 seconds is fine, but 15 seconds might be pushing it.

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Post by Matt Z » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:23 am

Meanwhile, I wouldn't worry too much about bar speed. Remember it's a deadlift not a clean or a snatch.

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Post by Kenny Croxdale » Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:31 am

Matt Z wrote:On deadlifts it's good to reset after each rep.
Performing deadlifts from a dead stop is one method of strength training (resetting).

You can also perform deadlifts with a slight bounce off the floor.
Just try to keep the rest between reps to a minimum. 5 seconds is fine, but 15 seconds might be pushing it.
Cluster sets (performing multiple reps in a set with a long rest periods between reps) is an effective method of overload. You are able to generate more force and power with each rep than if you had performed the reps non-stop.

That is in part is due to the resynthesis of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) in the muscle. ATP is like gasoline, fundamental to strength and power movements.

Fifty percent of APT stores are repleted in approximately thirty seconds. Full restoration occuring in approximatly three mintues plus.

Thus, when performing reps with 30 seconds between reps, you are stronger and produce more power.

It just another strength training tool used to increase strength and power.

Kenny Croxdale
Thanks TimD.

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Post by pdellorto » Mon Sep 10, 2007 6:42 pm

Thanks guys. That's helpful.

Yeah, they are deadlifts, so I don't fret too much about de-weighting and re-setting. I used quick rests to change my grip too - I start with pronated, switch to a "weak side" mixed grip (i.e. the mixed grip that feels weaker - left pronated, right supinated), then my stronger mixed grip (left supinated, right pronated). I don't bounce it, though - not that I think that's an invalid technique, it's just I'm DLing on bare concrete with folded rags under the weights to keep them from rolling. The one bounce I got from an improper descent needed a lot of careful sweeping and cleaning to make sure my coach didn't notice that that divit in his floor was new.

But I do wonder if I'm pushing too hard if I get a lousy 3rd set, rep-speed and tempo wise, and then up the weight the next week anyway. Instead of staying at the same weight another week. I'm wondering - is that second week adding to my strength, or is it just demonstrating that the previous week - with its extra pauses and slow reps - did make me stronger. If it is the former, it's worth the second week and getting the smoother reps. If its is the latter, it's not worth the second week.


I used my deadlifts as an example, but I'm having a similar problem with my bench press - I can do 3x5x62.5kg (ugh, I'm so weak at the bench) bit it's slow going the last set. I can barely managed 2x5x63.1kg + 1x4x63.1kg. So would it be worth doing 3x5x62.5 until I really get 3 sets of 5 smooth reps without that extra struggle at the end?

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Post by KPj » Tue Sep 11, 2007 6:46 am

So would it be worth doing 3x5x62.5 until I really get 3 sets of 5 smooth reps without that extra struggle at the end?
I think there's lots of answers for this. For example, if you've been stuck on this for a while, why not try sets of 2 or 3, with a weight closer to 70kg? say 3 or 4 sets of 2? at 70ish Kg, for 2-4 weeks. When you go back to your original set up, you will probably manage "3 sets of 5 smooth reps" at 62.5 with ease :-)

I now have an opinion on this, lol. Off the top of my head, i have no articles or resources to reference with my point, but i'm going to express it anyway.

I think steady tempos should be left to the bodybuilders. From a performance stand point, i think you should be lifting as fast as possible and aiming to get stronger as quickly as possible and obviously with good form. This is assuming your goal is strength which you said it was for this workout.

Therefore, my personal opinion - if you manage the reps with good form, regardless of speed, then move the weight up. If your not confident that you had good form then have another go the next week. I think for strength gains, lifting fast regardless of weight is important.

I reckon slower tempos would only be useful, or optimal to you on 'endurance days' or maybe phases where training all the stabilising muscles was a focus.

Also, if you've been stuck for a while, i would very highly recommend speed work for a few weeks atleast. Lifting at 40-70% of your max, low reps, high sets, very high speed - explosive. This will develop your Rate of Force development, or "explosive strength". I'm not a strength and conditioning coach, FYI, but surely explosive strength would benefit MMA?

KPj

p.s just read over the thread again and just wanted to clarify - when i say lift fast, I don't mean bar speed, for example, when a power lifter does a 1RM, the bar speed will be slow, but the lifter will be attempting to lift as fast as possible. I think that for strength gains you should lift like that.

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Post by Kenny Croxdale » Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:39 am

I think steady tempos should be left to the bodybuilders. From a performance stand point, i think you should be lifting as fast as possible and aiming to get stronger as quickly as possible and obviously with good form. This is assuming your goal is strength which you said it was for this workout.
This is a good point and research to back it up. One of the keys to increasing strength and power is the ability to push or pull the bar faster. The intent of pushing or pulling a weight faster has been shown to increase rate of velocity through neural adaptation...and increasing strength is all about nerual adaptation.

This information can be found in:
Effects of Velocity-Specific Training on Rate of Velocity Development, Peak Torque, and Performance. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 870–874.

Dr Fred Hatfield promotes this as well with his "Compensatory Acceleration Training." That is all about pushing the weight as fast as you can regardless of the how heavy it is. You actually want try and throw the weight up.
I think for strength gains, lifting fast regardless of weight is important.
"Lifting fast" is imperative! However, another problem comes into play. Part of the speed movement in a bench press is devoted to deceleration of the bar. That meaning part of the movement involves slowign the bar down before lockout.

A couple of solutions take care of the deceleration issue. One is ballistic movments in which you throw the bar up into the air. This allows you to continue to accelrate the movement all the way. Bench press throws or medicine ball drops take care of this.

Another solution is the use of band chains on the bar. This allows you to continue to accelerate to the top of the movement.
I reckon slower tempos would only be useful, or optimal to you on 'endurance days' or maybe phases where training all the stabilising muscles was a focus.
Performing slow movements has it place. By eliminating momentum, you place more tension on the muscle. Thus, building more limit sttrength.
Also, if you've been stuck for a while, i would very highly recommend speed work for a few weeks atleast. Lifting at 40-70% of your max, low reps, high sets, very high speed - explosive. This will develop your Rate of Force development, or "explosive strength". I'm not a strength and conditioning coach, FYI, but surely explosive strength would benefit MMA?
While the intent in pushing heavy loads is important, it's not enough. To fully maximize power development, increasing rate of force development, you need to work with lighter loads to develop power output.

Research the optimal training percentages to be 46-62% of 1RM for increasing power.

The Load That Maximizes the Average Mechanical Power Output During Explosive Bench Press Throws in Highly Trained Athletes. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 20–24.

With that said, the eccentric speed (how fast you lower the bar) plays a vital role in those training percentages. The faster you lower the bar, the more force you have to deal with...Force = Mass X Acceleration.

Research shows (Bench Press More Now/McLaughlin) that the force in lowering a bar too quickly in the bench press can magnify the load beyond the true weight of what is on the bar.

Novice lifters who lowered the bar too quickly, increased the fore fo the bar 49%. Thus, in bench pressing 300 lbs that would mean having to deal with 447 lbs of force once the bar hits you chest.

So, one of the important factors of lifting is the eccentric speed of the bar (how fast you lower it). This holds true for the squat and other movements as well.

Kenny Croxdale
Thanks TimD.

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Post by pdellorto » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:06 am

I'm already lifting the bar as fast as I can while maintaining good form. I'm not doing a slow tempo...I'm just concerned that my bar speed, and pauses between reps, slows down as I get into later sets...but I still get all the reps. So it's a question of - is getting all 15 goal reps (I'm doing 3x5) at the same speed with the same pauses between reps more important than upping the weight. Or as soon as I can do 3x5 in good form regardless of how long the reps took to accomplish or how long I had to pause between them, up the weight and keep going.

I'm getting the feeling that the answer is - up the weight as long as your form is okay. If form might not be, keep the weight the same.

I'm all for power training, but this workout is just about strength. I'm doing crossfit WODs 3-4 days a week on top of this, and lots of those workouts amd my MMA wrkouts are metcons with power movements (push press, thrusters, plyometrics, etc.). Good discussion about power but it doesn't answer my question...although it does make me feel like I'm on the right track with my power-centric workouts. And yeah, power helps a lot in MMA. :D

Thanks guys,

Peter

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Post by stuward » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:09 am

If you make the rep, you made it. Put the weight up next week. You're training for strength, not endurance. I think you should go to 5 minutes between sets, pause for 2 breaths between reps.

Stu

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Post by Matt Z » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:07 am

I think what your describing is what bodybuilders refer to as rest-pause training. This is where you perform a set to failure, then pause breifly and continue the set for a few more reps (or just one). This can be a useful tactic when used sparingly. However, because it's so grueling, it's generally not a good idea to do this every workout.

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Post by stuward » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:18 am

I'm talking about pausing the deadlift on the floor, deloading, reset and pull again for every rep. I'm not talking about rests after failure.

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Post by Matt Z » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:22 am

No not you ... I was responding to pdellorto. Sorry for the confusion.

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Post by pdellorto » Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:20 pm

I'm not doing that - I'm doing 5 reps as quickly as I can in good, controlled form (I'm not flinging the bar up, but I'm not going slower deliberately either). Then I rest 3 minutes (4 minutes for my bench press), timed with a stopwatch, and then doing my next set. I'm not deliberately going to failure, although I sometimes fail to make all 5 reps in the final set when I'm going up weight.

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