Slow Tempo for Better Results | Upper Body Workout

March 30, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Slow tempo training to produce better results in strength, size and mobility. Upper body workout with 4 compound exercises.

If you haven't seen good progress in your training for quite some while, then utilizing slow tempo training can be the plateau buster you need.

The reason slow tempo training works so well is because you are finally using all the muscles that play a part in the movement patterns you are doing.

When you lift weights up explosively, you will evidently skip portions of the repetition (due to acceleration, form etc.) where many smaller muscles would need to work. The muscles you are dominantly using also won't be fully activated in their range of motion.

There is nothing wrong with explosive and cheating repetitions, but the results of that type of training are very different. With fast repetitions you won't build mobility and you will not´╗┐ ensure the structural balance of the body.

Ideally, you want to do both explosive full body movements and slow controlled exercises to get the best of both worlds: power and mobility.

In terms of power, slow tempo training is not ideal, but in terms of muscular size, mobility and injury prevention slow tempo training is second to none.

With slow tempo exercises you need to significantly drop the weight down and likely use less than 50% of your max. Repetitions don't matter that much (you may need to do 2-10 repetitions per set) because the purpose is time under tension.

Focus on 2-5 seconds concentric (positive) and eccentric (negative) phases. To get the best results, you also need to focus heavily on mind-muscle connection.

Tempo Push Up

tempo push ups

Push up seems such a basic exercise, but when utilized correctly, it's a very advanced exercise and far from "basic".

The only problem is that the push push is very hard to do right. Most people use their whole body (spine, scapula) to do push ups which is why they seem so easy. 

You need to keep the trunk and scapula as stable as possible while dominantly pushing with your chest, shoulders and triceps.

Key is to keep the body stable, use very slow tempo and really feel the chest and triceps contract.

Tempo Overhead Press

tempo press

For most people, overhead press is often one of the most difficult lifts to make progress in. 

Working on tempo overhead press may help you to break through your plateau and allow you to finally start making nice progress with the OHP. 

The reason tempo OHP works so well is because you are using correctly many of the shoulder muscles and triceps instead of utilizing more of your traps and momentum of your body.

Once you start to strengthen the targeted muscles properly, you can expect to see your OHP numbers grow. The size should also follow.

You just need to throw the ego aside and pick a very light weight (just the bar is often enough) and focus on doing slow tempo and controlled repetitions. The more you can feel the muscles burn, the better results you can expect to get.

Tempo Chin Up

tempo chin ups

If you have always done explosive chin up repetitions, it's likely that your lats have done majority of the work (they are the most dominant muscle in the chin up) and many of the smaller back and arm muscles haven't been fully engaged.

Working on slow tempo chin ups can help with both of your arm and back growth (depending on which one is the weaker one) because no muscle of the movement is overlooked.

To fully develop the muscles, work on slow and full range of motion chin ups. The midrange is often the easiest, whereas the low and upper ranges are the hardest.

Tempo Bent Over Row

slow bent over row

A lot of people use tons of momentum and explosive repetitions when they train the bent over row. This way your traps and lats will surely grow but everything else not so much.

Back is complex and to fully develop the back, you need to use slow and controlled repetitions where you really feel the scapula retract and the back muscles burn.

By doing slow repetitions, you will also work the brachioradialis and brachialis muscles more effectively (when you use an overhand grip).

Try to avoid excess movement from your hips and spine. You want to train the upper back the most, not your lower back and hips.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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