How Rep Tempo Can Affect Fat Loss

June 22, 2010

People often talk about rep tempo and lifting speed when it comes to gaining strength or adding muscle. What about fat loss when it comes to lifting speed?

About 10 years ago I started using lower reps to increase muscle definition. I also slowed down the speed of each lift to really focus hard on increasing the tension in the lifts. This type of lifting quickly made a difference to my physique.

I reached the best shape of my life lifting with sets of 5 reps at a slow pace. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the slow lifting speed I was using may have contributed to reaching a low body fat percentage as well.

Rep Tempo
[No need to use a timer or stopwatch to time the speed of lifting and lowering your weights during a set. The “1 Mississippi…2 Mississippi” or “1 Alligator…2 Alligator” methods are just as accurate. Kids have been using this scientific counting method for “Hide and Seek” for centuries.]

An Interesting Study That Inspired This Post

I cruise the internet on a daily basis trying to find useful info that isn’t just “cookie cutter” generic fitness tips found on hundreds of other sites.

It gets a little tough at times because I have written 300+ articles on this site now. No doubt I will continue to find useful info for years to come, it just takes a little longer than it used to. Every once in a while I find a study or an article that takes me by surprise and look at something in a way I have never thought about.

The Rep Tempo and Metabolism Study

So —> here is a link to an abstract of a great study. I couldn’t find the entire document online, but the abstract gives enough info for a good discussion. This study examined the effects of slow eccentric contractions (slowly lowering the weight) on metabolism. Pretty interesting findings…

“The main finding of this investigation is that full-body resistance training with an eccentric concentration significantly increased REE up to 72 hours postexercise…

They Used a “1 Second Up and 3 Seconds Down” Rep Tempo

So I am not writing this to convince you that this is the magical tempo that boosts your metabolism the most. What I am saying is that rep tempo affects not only muscle size and strength, but the amount of calories you burn after your workout as well.

What is funny is that I have always been my leanest when following a slow tempo.

I can’t say that tempo was the only reason behind getting lean, because I also diet a little harder and do more HIIT when I’m doing lower reps slowly…but I do think the slow tempo contributed to losing body fat.

Harder to Use a Slower Tempo In Higher Rep Ranges

I find that lifting at a slow tempo works best in the lower rep ranges, like 6 reps or less.

The participants in this study were doing sets of 6 reps. It is tougher to use this slow tempo on higher rep sets, because each set will then last for days.

I actually believe that higher rep “fatigue training” is better suited for building muscle. Save the slower tempo for lower reps for when you are looking to lose body fat while increasing definition and density.

The Speed of the Concentric (Lifting) Part of the Rep

I typically recommend going slow when lifting heavy for both the positive and negative portion of each rep. The people in this study used slow going down and a fast tempo on the lifting part of the movement. When used strategically this can work very well.

Doing the positive portion at a fast rate increases power and can get you through a sticking point…but the potential for injury is higher than if you lift the positive portion of the rep at a slower rate. So use this tempo for 4-6 weeks at a time when you reach a sticking point…then go back to the safer tempo where you do the positive portion of the rep at a slower pace.

Experiment With “3 Seconds Down” If You Haven’t Tried This

There are many benefits of going slow during the negative portion of the lift. For example, lowering the weight slowly will give you time to build up the tension and use Pavel’s “irradiation” concept to generate maximum tension and muscle recruitment into the lift.

How fast you do the positive portion of the lift is up to you. Since I have been using the slow tempo up and down, I’m switching over to “1 second up” for the next month to mix things up.

Most of the time I would suggest a medium to slow pace on the positive portion of the lift to be safe. If you plan on lifting for a lifetime, I just feel you need to weigh the risk vs reward of more explosive lifting.

Note: So this is just another variable you can tweak to get better results in your workouts.

What is cool about this is that it applies to just about any type of resistance training.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Eat Steak Lose Weight June 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Something I have been noticing personally as well. Lowering reps alone can have a huge impact as long as you are doing progressively harder exercises. I think going slow is definitely the next step after going low (rep #). However, I think too many people try to go too heavy too quickly when just starting out, but that’s a topic for a whole book.

Chad Waterbury’s “Size Principle” has revolutionized how I train.
I call it his principle but have noticed Everyone from Pavel to Convict Conditioning, Joe Frazier, and Charles Atlas talking about stopping the reps for a rest period at the first hint of muscle fatigue. It seems like one of those things that so many people throughout time have known that they didn’t think it was worth that much of a mention, but it has become my core principle.

Mike @ June 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Great article Rusty! Using lower reps with a slow rep speed really allows you to focus on the weight and the muscles pushing that weight. It really does make a difference because more muscles are contracting for a longer period of time. It feels completely different from high rep lifting where you feel the “pump”. Although both have their place I have to agree that the lower rep slower more concentrated lifting style creates a more desireable overall look. I really like doing this for chin ups and incline dumbell presses. These lifts work together to build a nice square masculine upper chest while also getting the V-Shape emphasized with shoulder, lat, bi-cep growth and definition. Great stuff!

Darrin June 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I think it’s difficult, especially for us guys, to take it slow. The temptation is always harder, better, faster, stronger. (Couldn’t resist the Daft Punk reference.) 🙂

One great benefit of taking it slow is that you can really work on your form, not abusing your body and risking injury.

I saw fantastic results when I started doing a modified Stronglifts 5×5 protocol, and I’m currently trying this out with bodyweight exercises as I go through Convict Conditioning.

Clement June 22, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Hi Rusty, regarding this post, I feel that liftin explosively in the concentric phase – lifting as quickly as you can with controlled tempo, of course, not the typical jerking motions we see in the gym – and just a controlled eccentric phase, without really needing to slow it down much, recruits the most motor units and muscle fibres. Thus, the muscles work harder and greater size and strength gains will be observed. I know you hate the word, but more calories are burned through the recruitment of more motor units (more of the muscle, if you will). This is Chad Waterbury’s basis for his strength and fat loss programmes and since he has a degree in neuroscience and is one of the premier strength and conditioning coaches in America, I believe he knows his stuff. However, I don’t wish to say that there’s only one hard and fast rule; you’ve obviously achieved great results from using a slow concentric and eccentric phase and I’d say many of your followers have as well. I just wanted to point that out!

Moving away from fitness, I recently saw that Brad Pilon claimed you don’t have to eat a surplus of calories to gain muscle. According to him, eating above your caloric requirement would only result in your body storing excess body fat. If that’s the case, I’m confused as to why so many experts out there recommend eating about 500kcal above maintenance? Jay Ferruggia, for one, preaches really gorging yourself, and he’s had fantastic results. On the other hand, you’ve got Brad Pilon, who’s done much research in nutrition and has recently come out with a fantastic muscle-building programme with really admirable pictorial results as proof of its effectiveness. So, do
we or don’t we have to eat above maintenance to gain lean muscle, in your opinion?

P.S. I sent you a message via facebook a while ago. Please take the time to check it out!

Chris June 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Does this translate well to bodyweight exercises? Say a push-up or pull-up, down in 3 seconds, up in 1? June 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I read the abstract and found a couple of other interesting points. First, as expected, muscles soreness was greater with the group using a longer eccentric (lowering) phase of a lift too. This is due to more muscle damage too. This may mean that you would not be able to effectively train like this regularly and expect to recover to make improvement.

Second, the subjects performed quite a few sets per exercise, 8 from what I can tell which may be too much for many people. Done with sets of 6 using a challenging weight will be really tough to do more than every once in a while, I think.

I also suppose that the increase in REE is due to the fact that the workouts were total body. Training the all of the body’s muscle groups of a workout is tough too which will make you work harder, and therefore elevate your metabolism more post-workout than, for example, and arms only workout.

All in all a great article that highlights many interesting points Rusty.

Raymond June 23, 2010 at 12:19 am

Great reminder of how lifting should be done at times.
Tempo lifting has come, gone and come back again, and probably go again but definitely agree the “time under tension” whether in the lift/lower/ both phase should be considered by anyone who doesn’t want their body to adapt.
I really believe in creating stimulus by cycling everything in exercises, foods, tempo, wives (oops ..did I say that?) … cheers!

katie June 23, 2010 at 2:39 am

hey Rusty,

I like your new post, however, I have a question to ask you. I had undergone a strict protein and calorie deprivation diet for one and half months and done interval training (little bit less intense than HIIT) and although I lost a lot of fat, I gained some muscle on my legs. In one of your previous replies you were saying that if there is a muscle gain, then it will be only according to the perfect requirement (in looks). But I used to have very slim legs with no muscle showing at all so I was wondering if marathon cardio will reduce this muscle and make my legs as slim as before.

Also, I stopped my training due to my upcoming med exams and after the exams get over, I was planning to restart my previous regime( protein+cal deprivation and interval training)(I have gained a little bit of hip fat again as I started eating a lot). I know that the fat will be easily reduced, as I had positive results, but I am also afraid if restarting my regime will increase that muscle mass in my legs furtherstill. Kindly, clarify my doubts.

Thank you in advance.


Paul June 23, 2010 at 7:57 am

Rusty, I’ve been using your blog for a couple of months now.

I’ve been using my resistance bands and push ups to create a short workout. I find using slow tempo really gets my heart going and gets me to a point where I feel I’d have to do 15 reps previously to get to.

I think resistance bands would maybe work better than weights for a low rep slow tempo, since there is constant tension. I do 3 sets of 5 bicep curls while standing on my black (most lbs of resistance I could find) bands and I’ve got more definition in a week than ever.

I find doing press ups (properly close to the ground) slowly is a killer as well.

Is it possible to reach a point where you are burning fat for 72 hours by fitting a low rep slow tempo workout into 15 minutes?

Bruce Lee did a lot of slow tempo low rep exercises.

I’ve also being fasting a few times a week. Never the 24 hours but from let’s say 8 at night until 4 or 5 the next day 3 or 4 times a week. I don’t miss breakfast at all and find when I’m missing lunch i can easily get to dinner or later.

Miguel June 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

I have a question, when doing this isn’t there a tendency to lift less weight since for example…..when you can lift 70 lb barbell for 6 reps in normal tempo….. Wouldn’t you have a challenging time to lift 6 reps in a slower pace with 70lbs?Hence you lessen it to say, 50lb or 60lbs.

I tried doing this before when I had an impinged shoulder a few months ago. I couldn’t do shoulder presses with the usual weight, so I dialed down the weight and lifted slow…I was able to lift without pain, but still felt like my shoulders where worked.

am I right? just wanted to check if I’m doing anything wrong.

Rick June 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

Great article, and great timing. Just quit my gym membership to start training at home. Got an olympic barbell 300lb set, put in a pull up bar and working on a suspension/ ring training system. This strategy gives me more motivation – Thanks Rusty!

Michael June 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Rusty another great article…..Your website rocks big time……I have read many articles……I have a few questions……I am 6’2″ 186 ponds with slight bellyfat and love handles ( I have lost 15 pounds in last month but still no abs in sight :-)…….I am going to do bodyweight exercises 3/week (pushups/pullups/dips) and do HIIT 3 days …..I have done some sprint work on a soccer field and it is taking a LONG time to recover…Do you find doing SPRINTS the toughest?…..I swear HIIT on any gym machines is not the same intensity….Can I get any benefit from doing Steady State Cardio on upper body days?….I am trying to avoid OVERTRAING…Also, when you were unemplyed you said you ate less by using green tea…Do you have the green tea when get hunger pains or just drinlk throughout the day?…..What did you eat for dinner those days :-)….Finally I am training in the morning but want to incorporate ESE for 2 days a week…..Am I doing something bad if I dont eat until dinner after a HIIT session or weight traing?…….I get very hungry after I train about 3 hours later…..My goal is to see my abs…..HOW LONG did it take you to see abs when you went from 215 to 190?………Sorry about so many questions…..Hope you are enjoying your summer too…..Thanks

Michael June 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Rusty…..I train at 8:00 -9:00 and then try not to eat until 6:00 on ESE days but get so hungry……I am trying to get benefit of fasting (18-24 hour mark you explained)…..Maybe I should only train 5 days a week?……Does eating an apple or two during day of ESE spoil the effects of the fast?……Thanks again Rusty

Jay June 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I totally agree Rusty. I think many people dont go slow enough to really feel the muscle doing the work and get caught up in hitting target reps. I have a question about the crash diet you have done over 7-10 days eating only chicken breats and salad. Did you eat all 3-4 chicken breasts in one sitting or spread out over 2 meals a day. Also, what do you do when you have a snack/sweet craving? I am learning a lot about training and diet on your website and want to say thank you.

Luke M-Davies June 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Really useful post there Rusty.

It’s good that the old myth of ‘fast and high reps for toning’ is finally fading….

I like to mix it up sometimes by doing the negative part of the rep slowly and first e.g. starting you pull up at the top of the rep phase first. It’s good to keep your muscles guessing I say 🙂

Mark L June 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Hey Rusty,

First post here. Your site is the best on the net. It was a godsend for me. I had always wanted the Tyler Durden look, but pretty much gave up because all I could find was lift heavy squats, bench and deadlift. Eat a ton and then cut down for summer. Also all the myths on muscle burning more fat kept me from focusing on cardio. Since finding you I now do this:

1. Low reps, lower weights, perfect SLOW form for 10-12 sets / body part
2. Chest and back + Shoulder/tri/bi 2 day split for total 4 days per week
3. Hard, intense HIIT (sprints) followed by 20 minutes steady state cardio and no eating for hour after workout
4. Eat stop eat 2 times per week
5. No leg lifts, just cardio and sprints

I am 6’2″ and since leaving college and getting an office job had gained 30lbs of basically fat in 3 years and quit working out due to no results. Amazing how you can put it on and not even notice until the pants don’t fit anymore.

I have now dropped from 212lbs to 194lbs in 5.5 weeks, and am getting comments from friends and family about how great I look.
My goal is to get down to 180lbs by August and KNOW i can get there with what I have learned from your site.

And the slow tempo, low rep lifting has made a huge difference in my build. I think I pretty much wasted the last 15 years of going to the gym (on and off) trying to lift as heavy as possible with terrible form – probably not even hitting the muscle I was trying for from contorting my body to get as heavy a weight up as possible.

I now am starting to get a great V shape and square pecs from nice upper pec focus as well as super hard muscles all around.

Sorry to ramble, but you are the sole reason I transformed my body, my fitness, and my health around, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

P.S. enjoy Seattle’s summer! One of my favorite cities. The smoked salmon at the entrance of pikes place is to die for!

Chris Cannon June 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm


I always found that for strength gains a tempo of 2 seconds up 3 to 4 seconds usually works best for me. I have to be truthful and say that I’ve never really used weight training to enchance fat burning specifically though we all know that plays a factor into it.

They key is, as you mentioned, is that this is just another variable of many that you can tweak to keep your workouts fresh.

Thanks for keeping us up on the latest research!


B.E. June 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Hello Rusty,
Firstly, You’re doing excellent job with this site. It’s one of the best in whole Internet. No dogma, no finger pointing, just tons of info of different possibilities to get to the goal.

I have a question for you. Hope you don’t mind.

I’m bit over 6’6” tall. Year ago I experimently for two weeks did high rep resistence training (didn’t know what’s that at the time) -push ups and eat bit more and differently(some pork :). For my BIG surprise my ”ectomorphish” body mass jumped from 172 to 194 lbs. So I started to study different ideas of training, at least I knew that it’s very possbile to build your body. I decided that I don’t want to become bodybuilder, as examples I took some sprinters, dancers and even some male models (I know it’s cheesy) who had BMI 23 -24. All of this guys btw are no more than ~2 inches shorter than me, so I had kind of realistic expectations of how tall guy like me could look;) But soon I realised that 1) it’s not so easy to get enough resitence from body weight, 2) that I have some unwanted fat, maybe somewhere around 12%, hiding my sixpack etc.
So I found your page and bought ”Convict Conditioning” by your advice, because I really can’t afford gym. Now I know how to get enough resistence.
However my six pack thing isn’t going that well. I restricted my calory intake quiet a lot and added some HIIT and lost some fat. Since I didn’t stop resistence training muscles stayed.
So now I’m 178 lbs, much more muscular then when I started year(especially pecs) ago, but still no good six pack. I do planks, I do sit ups my fat level now is <9%, I have even hints of oblique muscles, but not six pack.
So what to do? I want to get up to 200 lbs but with little fat. Should I build up my muscles and then work to the six pack or keep sheeding of fat now. It's really pissing me of that even in 9% fat I don't have any visble six pack.

Johnny at The Lean Saloon June 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I imagine that REE increased for the trained and untrained groups simply because they received microtrauma from the exercise, which can be independent of tempo.

Although eccentric action is a common technique to impose microtrauma, there are other methods to elicit the same fibrular condition, such as high velocity cyclical contractions done repeatedly, or simply engaging in an unaccustomed activity.

Microtrauma simply demands more biological resources for recovery, thus the increase in REE.

What I like to see is the actually difference in energy expenditure between the groups that did the exercise and the group that did not. (It seems this study didn’t even have a controlled group.)

I’m willing to bet that the increased in REE (though statistically significant in the laboratory) translates to only a few more calories expended — which may hardly be worth mentioning in the real world, and may probably be canceled with an extra several bites of food at lunch time.

Personally, I would still exercise in the method that I enjoy, and focus on eating less for fat loss.


Michael - Lean Athlete Fitness June 24, 2010 at 6:12 am

Great Post Rusty!
I can see the benefits of lifting slow in my own training as well because my strength levels have gone up which means I’m more powerful or have the more potential to be, plus I am more defined in my legs. The whole time under tension thing definitely comes into play. Pavel’s book and this site have been very informatiove as well. Well Done.

Engel June 24, 2010 at 6:39 am

I was wondering, if you only manage to sleep for 5-6 hours a day but work in an office job, does that count towards the same as sleeping for 9-10 hours?

Since you are not doing anything physical in an office job, does that help recovery too?

Obviously my reason for asking is because I only get 5-6 hours sleep but I work in an office where all I do is sit in a chair for 8 hours. If not, can you explain why?

Charles June 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Hey! I like how this site stays clean and nice. There are to many sites out there with to much ads. Like or or some shit like that. This sites gives some good tips on the way to really getting ripped. I feel blessed to have discovered this site!

Robert June 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

This website is great. I am learning a lot. I would like to know how to set up a program of 4-5 days/week using HIIT on machines in a gym. I know that I can only do this short term (4-6 weeks). I find running up hills and doing sprints on a track very taxing as I am 38 years old. I would like to lose 10 pounds of weight and about 7 pounds of bodyfat by the end of August. You mentioned doing cardio 21 days in a row. Would you suggest steady stae cardio after my upper body workout days and then HIIT on the other days? I could follow up the HIIT with steady state cardio. Does walking count as steady stae cardio? Thanks Rusty.

Wilson June 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Hey Rusty, great article. I’ve been experimenting with exploding up on my positive lifts, and slowly lowering down for the negative portion. So far its been working pretty good.

I was wondering if you can help me out with a problem. In the past few months, my girlfriend cleaned up her diet and started exercising, which is great. She was by no means overweight to start with, not even close to chubby. Her diet and training has helped her get into better shape, and even helped her shed some body fat. The problem comes when she tells me she still has a slight belly that she wants to get rid of, and I’m not sure how she’s supposed to go at this. She has lots enough fat that you can somewhat see the outline of her ribs on her chest, below her collar bone. She currently works out 7 days a week, alternating a harder/easier workout. The harder one consists of: Planks, held for 50 seconds, single leg hip extensions, renegade rows, lunges, push ups, bicep curls, and squats. Her easier workout consists of half burps, lateral squats, and CST mountain climbers. All done with about 10-20 reps. Repeated 3 times in a circuit fashion. She is currently 104 pounds at 5’3. How can she achieve a flat belly, without getting anymore “ribby”.

Thanks for your help. Highly appreciate it.

Alicia Kirschenheiter June 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Being in the health and wellness profession, I can say that changing up the exercise routine every 4-6 weeks including tempo really helps generate results my clients are happy with. It forces the body to fight to adapt all over again. Teaching that form is predominant over weight at first really allows the client to lift at a slower pace while learning. Once they begin to get more comfortable, changing the tempo is a great way to keep things fresh. Great conversation.

George June 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm

I think the physiological explanation for the higher energy use after the slow rep workout is that the fibers used are the slow twitch ones, the ones that use fat for fuel, or used in a long distance run. I wonder if muscle endurance or endurance in general can be improved doing these slow rep workouts.

Wim June 25, 2010 at 4:54 am

Hey there Rusty,
I have been doing this 3sec up and 3 sec down-technique for over 2 months now and it was hard to start with it. We are a bit competitive when it comes to benching so I had to leave a bit of ego behind when starting this method. What I do find is that when I do renegade rows at this pace that everything is burning. My arm that supports my whole bodyweight on one dumbbell, and my shoulders (posterior). I feel exhausted and there is sweat everywere, it almost feels like HIIT when doing 90sec of rest in between. It is indeed a great technique. You feel the burn in almost any lift and soreness is a minimum if you don’t go to failure.
Another great thing about this method is that when you start to lift a bit faster you just feel like you’re in controle of the weight which is a great feeling, because you know you can lift a bunch more.

Anyway, enjoy your summer, looking forward to your other posts.

Ps: I have started enjoying those belgian beers now!;-)

Robert June 25, 2010 at 7:26 am

Rusty are you going to be lowering the price of your Visual Impact Muscle Building and Exercise demonstration package in the near future? I ask because I am a student again and want to get it. I want to show some support for the website too. It is excellent and unlike any I have seen here on the web. Not only are your articles great but I have learned a lot through readers comments. Some last questions. I weigh 190 pounds at 6’1″. I do bodyweight exercises 3/week for upper body. . 8 sets of pushups/8setspullups/8 sets dips. I rest 60″ between each set. But I have very skinny arms. My wrists are small and my forearms and my biceps. ANY SUGGESTIONS? Also, how long can it take to see a 4 pack once diet changes are made? I have cut out pasta and rice and bread and candy for now. You mentioned in another reply that you eat 2500 calories on non-fasting days. I am struggling to come close to that as all I am eating is eggs, fish, salds, and fruit. I am also using your 2 protein shakes a day and one big chicken salad at night diet to cut caloroes. I am older now, late 30’s so am frustrated enough to consider liposuction to get a 6 pack 🙂 I want to do cardio (HIIT and steady state) 5-6 times a week without overtraiing. ANY TIPS are GREATLY APPRECIATED. Thanks again Rusty and I look forward to getting and following your VI program.

chris June 25, 2010 at 11:48 am

I had good luck with the body for life program where you eat 6 times a day, a 45 minute workout 3 times a week, and 20 minute cardio for 3 days a week. then you take a day off call a cheat day and eat whatever you want. The other six days you are eating lean protein and natural carbs or you can use myoplex as an alternative meal. worked great for me in 90 days.

admin June 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm

@ Eat Steak Lose Weight,

I agree with resting between sets a bit more when gaining strength and training for muscle tone. I also avoid failure almost all of the time as well. The only exception to the rest thing would be if someone wanted to concentrate mainly on adding muscle size…then I would recommend they aim for a bit of fatigue in their workouts.

@ Mike,

Yeah…I have to remind myself to do this on chin ups. Not my strongest exercise, so it is easy to drop down quickly instead of emphasizing the tension. Good point.

@ Darrin,

Love Convict Conditioning. Currently trying to master bridges…and doing a bit of his ab progression. For things like one arm push ups you almost have to go at this rate…unless you are strong as heck.

@ Clement,

There are certainly a lot of good reasons to lift fast in the concentric phase. I just like people to exercise caution. I’m currently doing faster positive motions in my workout, but going slower than normal during the negative and it is making a difference already. When it comes to protein or supplements I trust Brad Pilon’s outlook. I really believe it is more about exercise than nutrition. This was hard to wrap my mind around at first, but I truly believe Brad has it right. Both ways work, but massive calories will lead to a decent amount of fat that needs to get lost. I would rather gain muscle at a slightly slower rate and look lean the whole time then get chubby and gain muscle at a faster rate. I’ll take a look at my Facebook page, I rarely spend time on Facebook…but I will make sure and respond.

@ Chris,

Definitely works for body weight movements as well.

@ Stayfitcentral,

Good points. I really was just trying to get people to consider rep tempo as another variable to tweak to help them hit their fat loss goal. Just some stuff to think about.

@ Raymond,

Yeah…time under tension is something that I forget to track. Whenever I focus on it, it makes a difference.

@ Katie,

You will want to begin jogging on the treadmill for longer periods of time. You can still do HIIT, but at a lower intensity for longer intervals. So something along the line of 60 seconds push, 60 seconds walking…for 15-20 minutes…then jog on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes. When you do HIIT, avoid lactic acid buildup in the legs. This is fine for most people…but you want to avoid this when slimming down leg muscle mass.

@ Paul,

Hard to know for sure if you will burn fat for 72 hours just from slow tempo exercise, but since you are doing ESE style eating as well…you will be good to go. If you diet is dialed in you should do fine. Bruce Lee was one of the most impressive physical specimen of all time…very inspiring!

@ Miguel,

What I have found is that you will lift less at first, but then surpass your previous best as you master the ability to generate tension.

@ Rick,

This is a great way to get extra work out of body weight exercises too. I wish I had a chin up bar at home. The doorway ones don’t work for me, because my knees hit before I get a full extension. Plus I like not having to bend my knees in the first place.

@ Michael,

Thanks for the compliment. You probably just want to stick to outdoor sprints 2 times per week…steady state will be fine 2 times per week in addition to this. I used to drink green tea all day….5-6 cups, when I was unemployed. For dinner, chicken salad a lot of the time. A couple of chicken breasts and salad with veggies and dressing. You can hold off until dinner to eat even if you train in the morning. I train in the morning now and don’t eat until 6 or 7 on my 2 fasting days during the week. I saw my abs about 10 pounds out from my target weight. I had a 4 pack probably at 10-15 pounds out. The six pack slowly began to show from 10 pounds out.

@ Michael,

Try to avoid all calories when fasting…and 5 days per week of training is plenty. I train just 4 times per week now most of the time.

@ Jay,

When I was doing my chicken breast diet crash diet, it was just one chicken breast in the morning, one for lunch, and then chicken salad or chicken soup at night. I did this for close to 2 weeks and reached very low body fat levels (was also grumpy and tired during those 2 weeks). This can only be done for 2 weeks and it is a tough 2 weeks.

@ Luke,

I’ve tried for years to end the “high rep for toning” myth. It is one that is tough to kill…but we are getting there.

@ Mark,

Thanks for the compliment. It was tough to start this site in the beginning due to the fact it was preaching different stuff than the mainstream fitness sites, but I’m glad I stuck it out 🙂 The routine you outlined is EXACTLY the routine I’m currently following and it works wonders. I’m pumped that you are getting such great results. You are going to look like a different person 6-12 months from now. People underestimate how much better your face looks at low body fat levels, your clothes will look much better, etc. Great job!

@ Chris,

Just like you said…another great variable to pay attention to.

@ B.E.

Thanks for the compliment. You would think there would be a whole lot more helpful sites out there, but most are just about making sales. Luckily I see more and more new and helpful fitness blogs cropping up. It is a great trend. For your six pack abs….go through the Convict Conditioning Ab progression. Strength comes first, then definition. So get strong doing what coach Wade outlines in that book while keeping your body fat low. You will get abs for sure…there is just a bit of lag time between strength gains and muscle definition.

@ Johnny,

Eating is the big key to fat loss for sure…I just like to stack everything in my favor. The lower body fat you get the harder is is to lose body fat, so this could assist with the last tiny bit of stubborn fat. I do agree that diet has to be right to have a fighting chance to drop body fat.

@ Michael – Lean Athletes Fitness,

Pavel’s book “Power to the People” is so good, it should be required reading for every personal trainer. A must have in my opinion.

@ Engel,

Honestly, I think you do need more sleep than that. It won’t kill you in to do from time to time for stretches. I slept 4-6 hours per night when I had a day job and was also building up Fitness Black Book the first 2 years. I was working 50-55 hours per week and posting to FBB 4-5 times per week. I also tried to answer every comment back then. I feel much better now that I am getting a solid 7-8 per night. There are studies on this…I just don’t have them handy.

@ Charles,

I do my best to add value to the internet. I wouldn’t be proud of my site if it was just one big ad disguised as a helpful site. Luckily more and more helpful blogs are popping up. I know what you mean by the type of blogs you mentioned. Thanks for reading.

@ Robert,

The 21 days in a row is good maybe once per year. It is pretty rough. You can do HIIT after any workout…then follow that up with 10-20 minutes of walking. I currently do HIIT 4 times per week for 10-20 minutes on a Stepmill machine…followed by 20 minutes steady state cardio (walking on a treadmill at a fast pace…or elliptical). If I am feeling wiped out then I just do 30 minutes of walking…which usually happens once every 2-3 weeks. Hope that helps.

@ Wilson,

Honestly…she probably just has to keep doing what she’s doing and it will slowly (sometimes slower than she wants) melt away. She is pretty darn light, so I wouldn’t change anything. Also…my guess is a lot of this is water weight. When the weather gets warmer she will have a flatter stomach due to less water retention.

@ Alicia,

I like the idea of switching up some variables every so often. I typically switch when I reach a sticking point.

@ George,

I never thought of that. Great point!

@ Wim,

I’m looking forward to an ice cold Belgium Beer tonight! Very true about when you do go back to lifting at a faster pace. Going slow is tougher so when you do allow yourself to speed things up you can lift quite a bit more. This is actually a great way to blow through a sticking point…especially for guys who are used to lifting quickly. They can lift slow for 4-6 weeks before going back to their quicker tempo.

@ Robert,

I don’t have plans to lower the price of Visual Impact Muscle Building. Similar courses are $77. It took me a while to decide on price. I knew it could sell at $77, but decided on the $47 price point. I think it is a well-spent $47…and you will get a lot out of it. So do HIIT after resistance training 4 times per week for 10-20 minutes followed by 20 minutes Steady State Cardio. If you feel wiped out just do steady state for 30 minutes. It works well.

@ Chris,

About 18 years ago, I was eating 6 times per day to try to add muscle while staying lean. I can’t imagine doing that now…the whole day was scheduled around eating. It works okay, but you can get just as good of results eating as little as 1-3 times per day.


Tom A June 29, 2010 at 11:13 am…

I know your a fan of Pavel, what say you to his little contraption here – I like you have always been a straight backed plank fan for ab work, but I doubt he would produce something that didn’t work

William Sloane June 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I’m starting my own fitness blog,
and I have to say, your blog posts are incredibly helpful
to my diet and exercise plans!

If you have a tumblr,
feel free to follow my one month plan,
I call it, “The July Workout Plan”!

Kelly@fitnessoverhaul June 30, 2010 at 10:10 am

I’ve never really changed the rep tempo much until I got in to phase 3 of Visual Impact, which I am getting great results from! You really know your stuff, my friend! I look forward to learning more from you in the future. Thanks!

Jay July 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Hi Rusty…..I have a question about the GREEN TEA you use and recommend…..Do you use regular (caffeine) green tea bags and add anything to it?….I ask because plain green tea tastes awful to me (like grass)…..Also, do you use the green tea because it burns fat or because it gives small doses of caffeine to help with energy levels ?….I am looking for something that tastes beetr….There are fat burning pills that have green tea :-)..Finally, I would have thought drinking 5-6 cups of green tea a day and then 1 meal at night would have been much tougher than eating chicken breasts throughout the day (the 7-14 day crash diet you did 1-2 weeks a year)…..At least you got to eat food during the day…I am down to 185 too (at 6’2″)…..BUT I have done NO ab workout and I think I need an ab workout to burn some fat around the belly…..All you recommend is planks but I was thinking I need like 3-4 exercises at least 3-4 days per week….I am hoping this would bring out some definition……Thanks again Rusty

Jay July 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Oh yeah……Does the green tea take away some of the hunger pains when fasting during the day (ESE) or when you were unemployed and only ate once per day?……

Dave - Fitness Training Tips July 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I think time under tension is definitely important when it comes to lifting. Just changing rep temp can really surprise your muscles. Like Kelly above, I’m starting to see good results from this in phase 3 of Visual Impact.

Paramjit July 2, 2010 at 4:56 am

Your article made a lot of sense. The lowering of the weight slowly is really difficult. It gives the body one hell of a workout. Using a 3 second tempo to lower the weight is a great way to boost metabolism

Troy July 3, 2010 at 12:40 am

The Matrix Principle by Professor Ron Laura is another interesting method of progressive resistance training. This system recommends many changing principles (we call sets) whereby repetitions are pauses 1/2 way sometimes 1/5ths are used and holds during the arc of movement. Every week you change you workout and use very light weight as it is impossible to go heavy. But your muscles scream as if you are lifting your maximum each session. cheers

gilbert II July 3, 2010 at 10:51 pm

hi im from the philippines, good work on your site!thanks for all the info..THANK YOU VERY MUCH…1 quick question,i started working out 3 months ago, i lost 6-8 pounds, and can see improvement on my arms,chest, shoulders,but my goal was to add muscle mass/weight bcause im a bit only 5’6″ and 121 lbs ryt now.the thing is i still have lower belly fat, my 4 pack is slightly visible(when i tense/flex my waist)and i really want to have a solid 6 pack and strong core..dya think i still need to lose a few pounds? just worried cause i look skinny with my clothes on and my friends are freakin out and telling me that im too thin, what do you think is my ideal weight?cause i wanted to weigh at 130lbs? but lose the fat on my belly..thank you and mabuhay!

Fitness Tips July 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Great post. I notice that I do some exercises slower than others. For instance, the seated cable row – the slower I take the rep the more I feel it in my lats. I will incorporate it into other exercises and see how it works out for fat loss.

Personal Training Melbourne July 15, 2010 at 1:16 am

I usually mix it up with my clients, pushing more reps certainly picks up the heart rate and gives them a great workout. I find it benefical for fat loss and improving stamina.

Hazman July 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I believe that the quicker you can lift a weight with proper form, the better that muscle gets worked, and it works very well on me, its also good for fat loss, and proper slow lifting with heavy contraction to the muscle, will result in stronger defined muscles, with more cuts!

Shapely Secrets August 5, 2010 at 11:45 am

I like your mention of “Scientific counting method”. It isn’t often you hear about the pace of lifting, usually they only reiterate the amount of reps.

Kurt August 12, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I’ve experimented with rep speed on push ups and seen good results. hadn’t thought to try it on other exercises though. Will try less reps at a slower pace and see how it goes.

Eric Moss September 9, 2010 at 7:43 am

When you tested this did you try to keep most of the variables the same to see if it really made a difference? One of the things that seems popular now is to slow down the concentric portion of the rep to allow more lactic acid to be generated because supposedly the lactic acid is generated during the concentric portion of the rep. In my way of thinking I would just recommend do more reps instead of slowing it down for the same time under tension but hey that’s just me.


Azri Miskal September 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’ve always heard about the rep tempo principle but never really grasped it well. Thanks to you, I finally get the big picture and have a better idea how to suggest it to others and implement it into my own workout!

Paolo September 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Hi Rusty!! This is my first post and i have a question 😉

When you say “low reps” it means low reps with heavy weight??? Sorry but im noob =D

Ryan-MyFavoriteFitnessTips November 18, 2010 at 2:25 am

I discovered the “3-seconds down” technique from the workout of Hugh Jackman. I’m training for strength and definition and I feel stronger every set it’s so tempting to do another set or increase the load.

reading this article makes me control my sets to avoid adding too much size.

Thanks Rusty!

Cai - December 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm

This article has been linked by Quake Fitness.

A link to this article has been published on – Connecting Fitness Blogs.

coachmissy August 26, 2011 at 4:19 am

Great post i have a similar page about about beachbody coach.I learn many thing for it.

personal training melbourne August 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

My personal training clients love variety and this technique will be a winner. Thanks for Sharing

Fred February 9, 2013 at 6:00 am

In order to make my workouts more effective I am taking additional nutrition. 2 months ago I’ve started taking Navy Seal Formula and I am getting extreme results in my breathing and cardio. My workouts are really improving and I am seeing fewer burn outs. I’ve taken a lot of supplements, but this one is best for me.

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: