December 13, 2016 | John Paul Catanzaro
Not too long ago, I mentioned my client Arzhang who experienced a horrific fall in December of 2013, and through a lot of hard work, he has achieved a new level of muscular strength and hypertrophy – leg hypertrophy, that is.
Arzhang just completed a 10×10 routine that I gave to him in the middle of October. He told me that he has never experienced so much growth in his legs from a program, and keep in mind that Arzhang has done this type of volume training many times in the past.
Why the difference now?
Because I emphasized the tempo prescription. I told him that if he did not follow the tempo exactly as it was assigned, he would not get the results that he was after. “Lower the weight, but do not deviate!” That’s what I told him and that’s what he did. Arzhang was guilty of ignoring the tempo in the past, but not this time and the results were fantastic!
Often, if you stay true to a set tempo, then you should achieve the training effect that you’re after, especially if you have neglected this variable in the past, but the opposite holds true as well…
Breaking the rule and going at your own pace without any particular tempo prescription can be effective occasionally. I learned that lesson back in 2010 when I put together The Size Pyramid and believe me, it works! That was one of the best routines I ever did for muscle growth. I’ll never forget it.
Like tempo, rest interval is another variable that is often ignored, but can make a dramatic difference in your training. Objective measures such as time and heart rate can be used to monitor the rest interval (see pages 55-58 of The Elite Trainer for more details).
Sometimes, though, subjective measures can be just as effective. In fact, occasionally it’s best to just wait until you’re ready to do your next set. That’s exactly what Mike O’Hearn does. He calls it “wait lift” and it seems to have worked quite well for him.
When O’Hearn does heavy powerlifting work that consists of many sets of low reps, like 7 sets of 2 reps that he advocates in his Power Bodybuilding System, he doesn’t use the clock to dictate his rest interval. He’ll wait as long as he needs to lift. When he’s ready to do his next set, he goes!
O’Hearn is a big, powerful guy with a lean, aesthetic physique. He looks strong and he is strong. If waiting to lift works for O’Hearn, then it can work for you. Give it a shot in your training every once in a while. I’m sure that it will be worth the wait!
Bottom Line: It’s wise to follow a specific tempo and rest interval in training, but occasionally going at your own speed can be an effective “change of pace” to increase muscle size and strength.