The Benefits of Lifting Weights at a Slower Tempo

Ever notice some of the biggest bodybuilders in the gym doing reps in what appears to be slow motion and wondered what they know that you don't? Let's take a look at the benefits of lifting weights at a slower tempo...
Weightlifters and bodybuilders have known for some time now that heavier weights build strength while higher repetitions build muscle mass faster. One of the reasons for the latter is the additional damage done to the muscles by the increased time under tension (TUT). So it only makes sense when working out to build muscles fast that you would make each rep last as long as possible while still using enough weight to create the necessary micro-tears that lead to muscle growth.
Building Muscles Faster
In the short term, the biggest benefit to lifting weights at a slower tempo is building muscles faster. Your body repairs the muscle damage from lifting weights and increases your muscle mass to better handle the load in future, so you want to ensure you've done as much damage as possible while not going beyond your body's ability to fully recuperate before your next workout.

In a balanced muscular environment you're stronger on the negative portion (lowering the weights) of each exercise than you are on the positive portion (raising the weights). Therefore, to work both parts equally you need to increase the time under tension more during the negative than during the positive movement - aim for twice as long lowering the weights. If you're new to lifting weights use 3 seconds to raise the weights and 6 seconds to lower them for each rep. If you've already built a lot of lean muscle mass working out over an extended period of time, try doing reps with a 5-second ascent and a 10-second descent.
Either way, limit your sets to 7 or 8 reps or you won't be able to use enough weight. Aim for four sets of 8 reps with 30 seconds or less rest time between sets. If you get all 8 reps in on the final set, increase the weight used for your next workout. Assuming you follow a healthy diet and get enough rest between workouts, you'll be able to see the benefits of lifting weights at a slower tempo within 3 - 4 weeks as you start to build muscles faster than ever before.
Fewer Injuries From Lifting Weights
Of equal or possibly even greater importance is the fewer acute and chronic aches, pains and injuries that can happen from this style of lifting weights, especially in older weightlifters and bodybuilders. Extended time under tension workouts are done using relatively lighter weights than traditional weightlifting or powerlifting, so less strain is placed on your spine, ligaments and tendons, potentially causing less damage to them from the repeated stress of workouts.
As with any exercise program, especially those involving lifting progressively heavier weights, it's important to clear it with your doctor before starting and to maintain proper form during EVERY set of EVERY workout. Don't be one of the fools that puts their body into dangerous positions while lifting more weight than you can reasonably handle - lifting weights at a slower tempo prevents you from using momentum during your reps, so make sure you adjust the weight load accordingly.
Now that you know that building muscles faster and fewer injuries are the potential benefits of lifting weights at a slower tempo, it's easy to see why those big bodybuilders and weightlifters are moving in seeming slow motion, isn't it? Increase your muscles' time under tension starting today and be one of the big guys the new weightlifters wonder about down the road. In no time YOU'LL be one of the people singing the praises of lifting weights at a slower tempo too!