Slow Reps vs Fast Reps for Muscle Growth – Which is Better for You? (Science Based)

The ongoing debate regarding the effectiveness of slow reps versus fast reps in exercise has intrigued fitness enthusiasts for a long time. Read on to explore the mechanics behind each approach.


When it comes to weight loss, the question arises whether faster reps are more beneficial. On the other hand, those aiming to build muscle might wonder if slow reps are the way to go. But is that correct?

To answer that, we lean into Jeff Nippard’s expertise. Jeff Nippard is a natural professional bodybuilder and fitness coach who shares tips and training programs on his YouTube channel. He often uses scientific studies to decide how to train a certain way, which exercises to choose and to answer the most asked fitness-related questions.

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See below what he had to say about slow reps vs fast reps for muscle growth.

Slow Reps vs Fast Reps for Muscle Growth – Which is Better for You? (Science Based)

First and foremost, when playing with the tempo of your reps, it is crucial to have good form. If you don’t execute the exercise properly, there is a chance that you might get injured, which will set you back on your fitness goals.

As a general guide, you want all your reps to make use of the full range of motion and be done in a controlled manner.

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When it comes to slow reps vs fast reps, Nippard points out a scientific study from 2015 that found that there were similar hypertrophy gains when the lifting tempo was between 0.5 seconds and 8 seconds. However, lifting tempos that were super slow, above 10 seconds, were worse for hypertrophy.

That means there is a lot of room to be creative with your lifting tempo. This means you could vary the tempo you lift depending on the exercise.

When a workout gives you the tempo for each rep, it would normally come in a sequence of four digits, with each signifying a part of the lift.

For example, normally, people would go for a 1010. This means 1 second to lower the weight (if it is a bicep curl, for example), 0 second to pause at the bottom, 1 second to lift the weight back and 0 second at the top before going for the next rep.

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Nippard explains how he likes to play around with tempo. If you want to train for power, you need to improve your explosiveness which should be noted on your rep tempo. You can focus on eccentric loading, technique, or even metabolic stress. All this would change the tempo of your reps

To learn more about slow reps vs fast reps for muscle growth from Jeff Nippard, watch the full video below.

Here are some general benefits of doing slow reps:

  • Increases the eccentric phase of a movement, the part when you are breaking down more muscles
  • Your form will improve, typically, by doing slower reps and targeting the muscles a bit better
  • Develop more endurance by targeting the slow twitch fibres in your muscles

And here are the benefits of doing fast reps:

  • Build strength by concentrating on lifting a heavier load
  • Increase explosiveness

Breaking through a fitness plateau can be achieved by utilizing this information to your advantage. If you typically perform slow reps, trying faster reps might help you overcome the plateau. Similarly, if you usually do fast reps, incorporating slow reps can also be effective. The key is to challenge your body with new stimuli and shake up your routine to see progress.

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The Role of Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is a fundamental principle in muscle building and strength development. It involves gradually increasing the demands on the muscles to stimulate growth and adaptation. While adding more weight to training is a common method of progressive overload, it is not the only way to achieve it. Progressive overload can also be achieved by increasing the number of repetitions, improving exercise technique, reducing rest periods, or incorporating advanced training techniques.

By progressively challenging the muscles over time, individuals can achieve continuous improvements and reach their fitness goals effectively. Embracing the concept of progressive overload allows for ongoing development and ensures that workouts remain effective and engaging, supporting long-term muscle growth and enhanced strength.

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Principles of Muscular Hypertrophy: Unlocking the Path to Muscle Growth

Muscular hypertrophy, the process of increasing muscle size, is a coveted goal for many fitness enthusiasts and athletes. To achieve this, several key principles come into play, each contributing to the overall growth and development of muscles. Let’s explore these essential principles and how they work synergistically to drive muscular hypertrophy.

  1. Progressive Tension Overload: The Foundation of Muscle Growth

At the core of muscular hypertrophy lies the principle of progressive tension overload. This principle dictates that muscle fibers must experience increasing levels of tension over time to stimulate growth. In practical terms, this involves progressively increasing the amount of weight lifted during resistance training. By consistently challenging the muscles with heavier loads, they adapt and grow stronger to meet the rising demand. However, progressive overload can be achieved through various means, such as increasing the number of repetitions, improving exercise techniques, or manipulating training variables like tempo and rest periods.

  1. Muscle Damage: Rebuilding Stronger Foundations

Muscle damage is an integral part of the muscle growth process. During intense training, muscle fibers undergo microtears and stress. These microtears are a natural response to the physical stress placed on the muscles during workouts. However, the true muscle growth occurs during the recovery phase. Adequate rest, recovery, and proper nutrition play crucial roles in this phase. When the body is given enough time and resources to recuperate, the muscles repair and grow back stronger, capable of handling greater stress in the future. Quality sleep and appropriate nutrition are essential components of muscle recovery and growth, as they provide the building blocks necessary for muscle repair and adaptation.

  1. Metabolic Stress: Pushing Muscles to the Limit

Metabolic stress is another vital factor in inducing muscular hypertrophy. This principle involves working the muscles to the point of failure or near failure during training. When muscle fibers are pushed to their metabolic limit through repeated actions, it triggers hypertrophic responses. This stress leads to an accumulation of metabolic byproducts, such as lactate and hydrogen ions, within the muscle cells. The buildup of these byproducts creates an environment conducive to muscle growth. To achieve metabolic stress, high-intensity training with challenging loads and higher repetitions is often employed.

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Synergy Among the Principles: Achieving Optimal Muscle Growth

While each principle plays a distinct role in muscular hypertrophy, their combined effects create a powerful synergistic impact on muscle growth. Progressive tension overload ensures that the muscles are continually challenged, prompting them to adapt and grow stronger. Muscle damage from intense training sessions serves as the stimulus for repair and growth during rest and recovery periods. Metabolic stress, achieved through pushing the muscles to their limits, contributes to the release of growth-promoting factors and the overall hypertrophic response.

Integrating all three principles into a well-structured training program is key to maximizing muscle growth potential. By progressively increasing weights, focusing on proper exercise form, allowing sufficient recovery time, and incorporating high-intensity sets, individuals can optimize their muscle-building efforts.

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