Rep Tempo Tips for Size, Strength and Power Training

In this post I’m sharing some simple and practical tips on rep tempo for size, strength and power training. The following rep tempo training tips are taken from various parts of my new book: Building Muscle and Performance, which comes out on April 1st – Preorder your copy here.


As you’re about to see, I have a slightly differnt approach to rep tempo on exercises of 5 reps or less than I do with exercises of 6 reps or more.

Tempo Tips on Exercises of 5 Reps Or Less

I ask the individual to:

  • Perform the concentric lifting portion of each rep “as forcefully as you can” by “exploding into each concentric” while maintaining optimal technique.
  • “Maintain deliberate control” during the eccentric (lowering) portion or each rep.
  • If the exercise involves jumping, “land as quietly as possible.”

Tempo Tips on Exercises of 6 Reps Or More

I ask the individual to:

  • Perform the concentric portion of each rep at a normal tempo while focusing on the working muscles in each exercise and maintain strict form without “cheating” by using additional movements or momentum.
  • “Maintain deliberate control” during the eccentric (lowering) portion or each rep.

(Note: Demonstrating and maintaining deliberate control during the eccentric portion usually results in the eccentric portion of each rep taking 2-3 seconds.)

Too Simple To be Sexy!

As you can see, I don’t get caught up with these three or four digit rep tempos (e.g., 3-2-1 or 3-2-1-1), as they don’t provide any magical powers and I’ve found they do more to confuse and distract than they do to help.

I’ve found that the simple – too simple to be sexy – rep tempo tips shared above, when combined with using a weight load that allows the individual to perform the indicated reps in their program while not being able to perform any more reps than indicated while maintaining proper control and technique, are all you need to ensure training safety and effectiveness.

Lastly, of course, in each workout, you ensure improvement in strength either by adding weight and performing the same number of reps as in the preceding workout or by performing more reps with the same weight.

Nick’s Upcoming Live Events

Teaching at the NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) Annual Training on April 25-28, 2016 in San Diego, CA. (Workshop sponsored by Sorinex)

Teaching at The Fitness Summit on April 29-30, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Teaching at the ISSN 13th Annual Conference and Expo on June 9-11, 2016 in Clearwater Beach FL.

Serving as an expert panelist at the Personal Trainer’s Specialist Interest Group session on July 7th at the 2016 NSCA National Conference on Jul 6-9, 2016 in New Orleans, LA.

Teaching AFPT Convention on August 26-28th in Oslo, Norway.

Teaching at the NSCA Personal Trainers Conference on October 14-16, 2016 in Jacksonville, FL.

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