What determines a perfect rep? Depending on who you speak to you will find a variety of answers. Also, there are numerous ways to manipulate the tempo of a repetition, sub max eccentric, eccentric only, super slow, iso dynamic, and mid count pause, to name a few. These manipulations illicit a specific intent or response that change the course of a “perfect rep”. When dealing with beginners, and not including the variations of Olympic lifts, I prefer to teach a tempo relatively close to the parameters of the late Arthur Jones, the founder and creator of Nautilus.
When researching Arthur Jones’ rep tempo, two of the popular ones that are mentioned are, a 3-count eccentric/3-count concentric and a 4-count eccentric/1-count midpoint pause/2-count concentric action. I have based my perfect rep on the latter and instead of using specific numbers, I cue the athlete on verbal actions!
My Perfect Rep
As most research has shown, we can handle an eccentric load that is approximately 10 percent heavier that load we can move concentrically. Therefore, when an athlete is performing the eccentric portion of the lift, I want them to show me how “STRONG” they are. I am looking for a strong controlled eccentric contraction where the athlete shows they are in complete control of the load. I am not looking for an excessively slow movement, I am looking for a strong controlled stabilized movement. This leads into the brief midpoint pause contraction. Here I am looking for the athlete to briefly stop the movement and show they can isometrically stabilize (even for the briefest time) the load, and be in an efficient position to perform the concentric action. Since most athletic endeavors utilize speed and power, I am looking for the athlete to perform the concentric portion of the movement with maximal acceleration. In this case my cue is, show me how “FAST” you are. The last part I am looking at is the finish. I expect another brief pause at the completion of the rep to again show control and also to ensure the rep was completed with a full range of motion.
Using the cues, show me how strong you are, and show me how fast you are, gives the athletes terms they are familiar with. After explaining to them the whys, I feel it is a more conducive way for them to perform the perfect rep, rather than focusing on a specific count for each independent action. Give these cues a try and see if your athletes’ technique shows some fine tuning.