The Workout Hack You Need to Do

STACK Expert Kasey Esser offers a workout to help you trigger your slow-twitch muscle fibers to build strength and size.


Most athletes know that to get stronger, pack on size and become more powerful, they need to engage their fast-twitch muscle fibers (the ones with the highest growth potential).

But what about the slow-twitch fibers?

Contrary to popular belief, slow-twitch fibers are not just involved in long-distance running or other endurance activities. If you target them the right way with a challenging workout, they play a significant role in strength, size and athletic development.

By developing your slow-twitch fibers, you will not only have better aerobic endurance, you will also increase your anaerobic capacity—i.e., your ability to do shorter, high-intensity workouts. This is because the aerobic system aids in clearing out by-products created in anaerobic metabolism, making the process more efficient and allowing you to last longer at higher-power outputs.

You will also improve the aerobic capacity of your fast-twitch fibers, making you an all-around beast. So you're getting the best of both worlds.

Sound like a plan?

Commonly referred to as "tempo training" or the "tempo method," the following workout has been around for some time, but it's not well known. It has its roots with Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky and was featured in Joel Jamieson's excellent book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning.


  • Pick 3 or 4 compound exercises, like the Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press, Chin-Up, etc.
  • For each exercise, take two seconds on the concentric (lifting) phase and two seconds on the eccentric (lowering) phase. Do not pause between reps, since constant motion is necessary to maintain muscular tension.
  • Rest for 40 seconds between sets and include at least 6 to 8 minutes of active rest between exercises. For active rest, you can jog or jump rope—anything that keeps you moving.
  • With short rest intervals between sets, you are going to have to drop your ego and lighten the load, probably to around 60 percent of your max (5 percent for beginning weight trainers).

 Slow-Twitch Workout


  • Sets/Reps: 4x8 at a 2-0-2-0 tempo (i.e., 2 seconds down, zero seconds hold, 2 seconds up, zero seconds hold)
  • Rest 40 seconds between sets
  • 6-8 minutes active rest

 Bench Press

  • Sets/Reps: 3x10 at 2-0-2-0 tempo
  • Rest 40 seconds between sets
  • 6-8 minutes active rest

Front Squat

  • Sets/Reps: 4x8 at 2-0-2-0 tempo
  • Rest 40 seconds between sets

This workout looks relatively easy on paper. It's not!

The two-seconds-up, two-seconds-down tempo is key. Do it correctly, and there is no doubt you will get out of your normal routine, give your body a different stimulus, and get better results from both an aesthetic and performance standpoint.

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