If I do my reps slower, will it have a similar effect to increasing resistance?

With respect to building muscles or improving max strength for example?

Assume I go to failure / same level of fatigue in both cases.


Example: In my current pull exercise, with the highest resistance, I can do 20 reps. I can continue to increase reps, but over time I want to increase resistance (with less reps). So I am thinking I could do it slower, with some of the same effects as high resistance.

If it is "effective" is not really the question, more if it works similar to high resistance vs high rep.

(Personal directions in profile)

  • Can you add any more resistance? What is the pull exercise? – John Dec 7 '16 at 12:47
  • Not for the time being, vertical pull. – Olav Dec 8 '16 at 12:22
  • Can you explain what you mean by "vertical pull"? Front Raise? Deadlift? Hang Clean/Snatch? Lateral Raise?. My answer still stands, you can't expect the same results from a lower-weight TUT-focussed movement verses a fast-heavy lifting movement (Bands don't give the same results as barbells) – John Dec 8 '16 at 14:07
  • @JJosaur #1 Convict Conditioning Vertical Pull (But with toes further forward in front) i.ytimg.com/vi/_Ga00eHfrHA/hqdefault.jpg – Olav Dec 9 '16 at 7:46
  • Here is the bodyweight progression from "vertical pull": reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/exercises/row – John Dec 9 '16 at 8:00


Christian Finn from MuscleEvo.com states:

The idea that you need to make a set last for a fixed amount of time has also given some people the idea that slower lifting speeds work better for muscle growth — a theory that’s been refuted in a few of studies [1, 2].

  1. Tanimoto M, Sanada K, Yamamoto K, Kawano H, Gando Y, Tabata I, Ishii N, Miyachi M. (2008). Effects of whole-body low-intensity resistance training with slow movement and tonic force generation on muscular size and strength in young men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22, 1926-1938

  2. Nogueira W, Gentil P, Mello SN, Oliveira RJ, Bezerra AJ, Bottaro M. (2009). Effects of power training on muscle thickness of older men. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 30, 200-204

Concurred on Fittit by user Tsahyt

Artificially lowering bar speed in order to maximize time under tension seems to be ineffective [3]. The main driver of hypertrophy seems to be just volume. In that way, more volume of course also means more TUT, but the TUT itself doesn't seem to be the deciding factor. Personally I'm a fan of the idea that the best way to measure volume for hypertrophy purposes is "reps at full muscle activation", but if you're doing normal sets (i.e. no rest pause, myoreps, etc) and going to 1-2 reps within failure, the number of sets is pretty much an equivalent measure.

On a sidenote, if you're interested in performace at all, bar speed makes a huge difference there [4]. According to this, going at half the velocity on the concentric results in roughly half the gains.

  1. González-Badillo, J., Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Sánchez-Medina, L., Gorostiaga, E. and Pareja-Blanco, F. (2014). Maximal intended velocity training induces greater gains in bench press performance than deliberately slower half-velocity training. European Journal of Sport Science, 14(8), pp.772-781.
  2. Schoenfeld, B., Ogborn, D. and Krieger, J. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med.
| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks. 1) These are bodyweight exercises where I can not increase resistance right now, so it doesn't really have to be the most efficient way. Also it is just something I do for some time before I find a solution. Several programs focusing on hypertrophy use slow movements, so it can not really be that inefficient. 2) I think fast/explosive movements works for hypertrophy by hitting all fibers, it could be an alternative in my situation, but I do want to be careful when it comes to injuries. – Olav Jun 23 '16 at 9:06
  • Not saying slow movements don't have their place. Deadlift negatives are well respected and commonly used. Still, extension should be fast/explosive and contraction should be controlled and slow. Lift fast, lower slowly. – John Jun 23 '16 at 9:09
  • I am randomly commenting after a notification sent me to the site, but people might find it useful: slow, or fast, theoretically doesn't change your energy expenditure, only distance and mass matters. But I would also say that going super-fast DOES rob you of gains because it allows you to abuse inertia and tendons elastics behaviour to cheat. – speeder Dec 8 '16 at 21:25
  • Going at all the different speeds have their place. I agree that uncontrolled super-fast lifting can be dangerous. However, look at how fast the athlete moves compared to the bar: youtube.com/watch?v=Gw0bxC0Cgu4 – John Dec 9 '16 at 7:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.