How FAST You Should Perform Pushups And Other Strength Exercises For Maximum Results

Get The Most Out Of Every Strength Training Repetition With These Simplified Tips About Repetition Speed

Much has been said about strength training when it comes to repetition speed and tempo considerations. There are a zillion and one different opinions out there and many different formulas to try, and I think most of them are pure garbage – not because they’re not effective, but because they aren’t personal (ie individualized to a specific athlete/trainee). In my opinion, they only add to the overly-complicated nature that strength training already suffers from. And the last thing people need is yet another variable to keep track of in their workout program.

So, in an effort to help you achieve your strength and fitness goals as quickly and healthfully as possible, I’m going to present to you a simplified explanation on the different repetition speeds and tempo considerations – free from any arbitrary standards to which you must conform yourself to – and suitable for practically anyone besides elite professional athletes and Navy SEALs.

This was all inspired by a question I received on my pushup technique video by Youtube user, Nico Enders. He said, “Great video, just one question. What should your rhythm be like? Slow or fast continuous motions, and does it make a difference? Cheers.” So, I filmed this video to answer his question and provide you with a simple blueprint to manage your repetition speed – and clear up any confusion about a subject that really shouldn’t be confusing, except to so-called fitness gurus.

Have at it!

So, as you can see, I like to keep things simple – like elementary school simple. I just think we lose so much when we get fixated on trying to implement a rigid, periodized, peer-reviewed strength training program, particularly when most of us don’t really need an optimal program – we just need a good program to put an optimal effort into.

So, to recap…

How fast should you perform pushups and most other strength training exercises? Here are my three go-to repetition speeds with brief descriptions:

Slow – Slow repetitions are best suited for beginner to intermediate trainees seeking improved health, balanced strength and muscle development, and optimal body composition results (e.g. fat loss, muscle gain, etc.). Slow repetitions should be performed smoothly and slowly under control, with brief pauses in the beginning, middle, and end of each repetition.

Medium – Medium-speed repetitions are best-suited for intermediate-advanced trainees seeking a) optimal strength development, and secondly, b) body composition and power development results. Medium-speed reps should be performed quickly under control without any deviations from proper exercise technique.

Fast – Fast repetitions (aka plyometric, ballistic, and yes, even EXPLOSIVE reps) are best suited for advanced trainees and athletes seeking strength, power, and force generation development. Fast repetitions should be performed rapidly (ie plyometrically) with as much speed as can be achieved without breaking structural alignment or otherwise using improper exercise technique.

Final Words

So, I hope that clears up any confusion surrounding this issue. You’ve probably noticed by now that the actual application of repetition speeds for most people should be subjective. Put simply, it’s a gray area and it’s up to you to figure out what’s best for you. Just remember the laws of conditioning, and you’ll be fine. And when in doubt, trust your gut, listen to your intuition, rely on instinct, and don’t listen to any guru who says you shouldn’t. This stuff really isn’t all that complicated and you don’t need a PhD to understand it.

Further Reading:

How to do Pushups with Optimal Technique For Better Results and Less Injuries

Are Partial Reps Better For Strength And Hypertrophy Than Full Range Of Motion?

Sequential Recruitment Of Muscle Fibers For Maximal Hypertrophy

How to Hotwire Your Nervous System For Instantly Better Strength And Conditioning Performance

Why Doing 3 Sets of 10 Is Dead

4 Reasons To Avoid Training To Muscle Failure

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Health-First Fitness Coach

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Thanks for the video, as you point out regardless of the speed the most important point is to ensure you do the exercise correctly.

    Having had my lower spine damaged courtesy of a military PT instructor who thought it would be a good idea for us to perform trap bar deadlifts with increasing rapidity this resulted in me using my back rather than the complete squat to meet his desired speed.

    Thus focus on training the muscles to do it right then work upto a speed that is comfortable and right for your objectives, slower is great for core strengthing.

  2. Great video on this subject.

    I’ve always believed in the value of negative resistance from slower movement – which you point out is better for a beginner to intermediate. Helps that group to maintain proper form. That’s the best model to follow for most people – as only the few are advanced enough to benefit enough from changing up tempo or going very fast.

  3. Thanks for this video, I came across your site today looking for advice. I’ve been doing pushups several times a week for about 9 months and have been progressing steadily until recently. I’ve been stuck around 50 reps for a couple of months now. I was wondering what the keys to progressing were. I’ve read elsewhere that developing core strength through planks was a good way to improve.

    All the best


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