Build Effective Workouts Using the New Science of Repetition Tempo

resistance training
Woman. Squat exercise.

Finally! The answer to how long weightlifting repetitions needs to be for maximum benefit. The length varies by training goal: mass, strength, and power. Learn more below.

The key to understanding the research and applying it in the gym or in-clinic is to understand the concept of time under tension (TUT). The TUT is a way to convey the time that a muscle is working.

Historically, we looked at the total number of sets and repetitions or training volume; however, now we know that the movement tempo during repetitions is now a leading factor in resistance training outcomes (Cortatella, 2022).

The other thing to remember is that you have to consider both the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) phases of an exercise. They are treated differently when it comes to programming TUT for difference outcomes like muscle mass, strength, and power development.

To begin to apply TUT and repetition speed, follow these brief power programming tips:

  • Time under tension (TUT) is the important resistance training variable to consider.
  • TUT includes both training volume (total sets and REPS) and repetition tempo.
  • Controlling repetition tempo helps build muscle and develop muscle strength and power.
  • Effectively using repetition tempo relies on differentiating between contraction types; each phase, up and down, has specific second recommendations for muscle mass, strength, and power outcomes.

To learn more about repetition tempo training and earn PT CEUs, click here.


 Coratella G. Appropriate Reporting of Exercise Variables in Resistance Training Protocols: Much more than Load and Number of Repetitions. Sports Med Open. 2022 Jul 30;8(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s40798-022-00492-1. PMID: 35907047; PMCID: PMC9339067.

Author Biography

Amy Ashmore, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a physical therapy continuing education provider located in Las Vegas, NV.


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