As a personal trainer in San Mateo, I understand the importance of tempo training when it comes to muscle building. Tempo training, also known as time under tension (TUT), is a technique that focuses on the speed at which you perform a lift and how long your muscles are under tension during that lift.

Many people often focus on lifting heavy weights and neglect the importance of TUT, but recent research has shown that TUT plays a significant role in muscle growth. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that TUT had a greater impact on muscle hypertrophy (growth) than volume or intensity. The study participants who performed exercises with a slower tempo (3-4 seconds during the eccentric phase and 1-2 seconds during the concentric phase) had a greater increase in muscle thickness compared to those who performed the exercises at a faster tempo.

But, why is TUT so important for muscle growth? When you perform an exercise at a slower tempo, it forces your muscles to work harder during the lift. This increased time under tension leads to greater muscle activation and muscle protein synthesis, leading to greater muscle growth. It also helps to improve your mind-muscle connection and increase muscle activation.

Another benefit of tempo training is that it allows you to focus on proper form. Many people tend to sacrifice form for the sake of lifting heavier weights, but by slowing down the tempo, you are able to focus on proper form, which can help to prevent injury and increase muscle activation.

So, how can you incorporate tempo training into your workout routine? One way is to focus on the eccentric phase of the lift, also known as the “negative” phase. This is the phase where the muscle is lengthening, such as during the downward motion of a bicep curl. By slowing down during this phase, you are putting more tension on the muscle and increasing the time it is under tension.

Another way is to use pauses during the lift. This can be done by pausing at the bottom or top of a lift, such as pausing at the bottom of a squat before standing up. This pause increases the time the muscle is under tension, leading to increased muscle activation and growth.

To optimize your tempo training for muscle growth, aim for a 3-4 second eccentric phase and 1-2 second concentric phase. You can also include pauses of 1-2 seconds at the bottom or top of the lift. It’s important to note that you should still maintain proper form during tempo training and not sacrifice form for tempo.

Incorporating tempo training into your workout routine can lead to greater muscle growth and increased strength. As a personal trainer in San Mateo, I highly recommend incorporating tempo training into your workout routine.

It’s like the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither are your muscles! It takes time, patience and consistent effort to see the results you desire.

Here at Holly Roser Fitness, we specialize in helping our clients to achieve their fitness goals, including muscle growth. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in San Mateo, we are here to help! Together, we’ll create a personalized workout plan that incorporates tempo training to help you achieve your muscle-building goals. So, don’t wait any longer, let’s get started on your journey to a stronger and more muscular you!


Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 31(10), 2857-2872

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