Self-Selected or Fixed-Duration Rep Speed

Moving at your own pace during resistance training produces better results.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Aug 20, 2019

A small study addressed the question of whether one gets better results from performing resistance training reps at a self-selected pace or at a fixed rep duration (2-second concentric phase, 2-second eccentric phase). Researchers from universities in São Paolo recruited 12 resistance-trained men and evaluated exercise volume, muscle activation and time under tension. Each participant did two high-intensity resistance exercise protocols: three sets of exercises at a self-selected pace and three sets of resistance training exercises at a fixed duration. Muscle activation was assessed with electromyography.

Data analysis showed that both exercise volume and muscle activation were higher when rep pace was self-selected. Time under tension was greater with the fixed-duration protocol.

The study is available in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2018; doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002493).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

Leave a Comment

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.