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Understanding Workouts: What is Rep Timing

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What is Rep Timing?

Some bodybuilding workouts will dictate that you perform reps with a certain speed, or rep timing. For example, you may see a workout that includes the bench press and looks like this:

  • Bench Press, 3 x 6 – Perform with a 4-2-4 rep timing.

In the above example, the rep timing is 4-2-4.

The first number in the rep timing sequence is always the concentric rep speed, or how much time it should take you to lift a weight, or perform a single rep. For the bench press, this means you will take 4 seconds to move the weight from your chest to the lockout position.

The second number in the rep timing sequence is always the contraction hold time, or how long you should hold the weight in position after performing a rep, or lifting the weight. For the bench press, this means that after pushing the weight from your chest, you will hold the bar in the lockout position for 2 seconds before lowering it and attempting another rep.

The third number in the rep timing sequence is always the eccentric rep speed, or how long it should take you to lower or move the bar back back to the lift’s starting position after performing a rep. For the bench press, this means taking 4 seconds to lower the bar to your chest before performing another rep.

Why use Rep Timing?

Rep timing is used to increase the time under tension of a lift, or the amount of time it takes you to perform a set. This additional time under tension makes the set more difficult, and raises the set intensity. An increase in set intensity stresses the muscles involved with the exercises, stimulating muscle growth.

Is Extended Rep Timing Essential for Muscle Growth?

No. A beginning and intermediate lifter should focus on progression of weight first and foremost. Once a bodybuilder is an experienced muscle builder, they can begin to experiment with training techniques such as prolonged rep timing. Simple progression works wonders for packing on muscle. You do not need techniques like this to make gains.

Intermediate to advanced lifters may utilize extended rep timing to relieve the strain and pains caused by the repeated use of heavier weights, while still keeping their workout challenging. Extended rep timing requires the use of a lighter training weight, which can relieve joint and muscle strains while still providing a challenging workout.

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