Build Muscle Faster with Tempo Training:  3 Methods + Full Workout

Build Muscle Faster with Tempo Training: 3 Methods + Full Workout

If you want to build muscle faster and put on some serious size, you have to train smarter. That means choosing the right methods to use in the gym. And when it comes to packing on slabs of muscle quickly, tempo training is at the top of the list.

In the gym, it’s often not what you do, but how you do it that is most important.

What is Tempo Training?

Tempo training refers to the way that you perform repetitions. There are various ways we can manipulate repetitions on almost any exercise to get a different desired effect from it (hypertrophy, strength, power, etc..)

In general, performing tempo reps means slowing down each repetition on the eccentric (way down), concentric, or both parts of the movement at a specific rate (i.e, 3 seconds up and down, 5 seconds down and quickly back up, etc.)

In this article I’m going to:

  • Explain the benefits of Tempo Training
  • Explain how it builds muscle better than other methods
  • Give 3 specific methods you can use to implement tempo training into your workouts
  • Give you a sample workout using tempo training and the methods discussed.

Benefits of Using Tempo Reps

Using Tempo reps in your training can have several benefits leading to increased muscle mass as well as reduced joint stress and nervous system fatigue.

When incorporating Tempo into my training sessions, I would do so for a specific reason, such as:

  • To add volume in without stressing out the nervous system. Too much max effort lifting can be counterproductive, and tempo training can be a solid compliment to heavy work if you’re looking to put on some size. Using tempo is also self-limiting: You will not be able to lift as much weight when you slow down the tempo.
  • To increase time under tension: Slowing down the tempo will dramatically increase the length of each set. A set of tempo reps can easily extend beyond one minute.
  • To get a massive “pump:” Slowing down reps will create an “occlusion” effect in the muscle, delaying blood from exiting the working muscle. This results in a huge pump and increased metabolic fatigue, both solid stimuli for muscle growth.
  • To get in some training without over-stressing the body: Tempo training isn’t as hard on the body as heavy/max effort lifting. I’d throw temp reps in on a lower intensity/recovery type day to get some volume in without crushing myself.

How Does Tempo Training Increase Muscle Mass?

build muscle fast tempo reps

Performing reps with a slower tempo can cause hypertrophy via several different mechanisms. Most importantly:

  • Increased time under tension
  • Increased metabolic fatigue/stress
  • Occlusion effect

Increased Time Under Tension

Time under tension is self explanatory: The length of time the target muscle(s) are under tension from the exercise being performed during a set.

This is a classic way that bodybuilders have trained for decades to maximize hypertrophy… slowing down repetitions and taking sets to failure.

This isn’t to say that tempo training is the only way to maximize hypertrophy. Heavy reps are equally impactful and necessary for most lifters. Tempo training is simply complimentary to an overall approach to building size and strength.

Increased Metabolic Stress

Rather than giving a lengthy explanation of metabolic stress, I’ll just give you an example:

Take a heavy set of 5-6 reps on barbell biceps curls. Now, contrast that with a set of 15 reps, done at a slow tempo.. say, 4 seconds up and down with lighter weight.

The second set will be brutal, and your arms (and whole upper body probably) will be screaming and on fire. This is metabolic fatigue, caused by accumulation of various by-products of energy production and other factors beyond the scope of this article.

The important point is that metabolic stress is a key marker for muscle growth, causing a spike in anabolic hormones and increased protein synthesis.

Occlusion Effect

Slowing down repetitions without giving the working muscle any rest will lead to an “occlusion” effect on the muscle. This means that blood will be delayed from exiting the muscle as it is forced to remain contracted.

Bodybuilders (and others more recently) have worn occlusion bands to create this same effect, restricting blood flow in the working muscle. Research (such as this study) has shown occlusion training to be effective at stimulating additional muscle growth using lighter weight/higher reps.

The result of the occlusion effect is a lack of oxygen in the muscle, which causes the slow twitch muscle fibers to fatigue quickly, forcing the higher threshold fast twitch muscle fibers to take over.

You’re basically tricking the body into sensing a more challenging stimulus, as if you were lifting much heavier weight. This results in a greater endocrine response (release of anabolic hormones) and increased protein synthesis.

You can grab a solid, inexpensive pair of BFR bands here on Amazon (affiliate link, I’ve used these for years)

3 Methods to Build Muscle Faster Using Tempo Training

I want to give you 3 methods you can use to implement tempo training into your workouts to help you build muscle faster. I’ll include a video demo for each one.

1 – Regular Tempo Reps

The first way to implement tempo training is to simply use traditional tempo reps on one of your lifts during your session.

For this method, simply choose a tempo (3 seconds, 4 seconds, etc..) and perform all repetitions at that tempo, moving both up and down at the desired tempo.

Tempo Incline DB Press

3-4 sets of 8-12 reps should be sufficient. If you want to be a little more hardcore, try taking the last set to failure.

Tempo/Contrast Method

The tempo contrast method is one of my favorites to implement. It combines tempo reps with regular reps within the same set, allowing you to reap the benefits of both tempo and more aggressive lifting.

To perform the Tempo/Contrast method, you’ll choose an exercise, then hit 2 reps at tempo followed by 2 normal repetitions. Then repeat, 2 tempo, 2 regular, until all reps are completed.

Below are 2 examples using the Tempo/Contrast method. Back squat and DB press.

Tempo/Contrast Incline DB Press

You can use the same set/rep scheme as for regular tempo reps, potentially taking the last set to failure. I use these all the time and have gotten solid results from including this method in my training.

Extended Contrast

The third and final example is what I call “Extended Contrast.” In this method, we’ll combine multiple methods within a single set, ending with an isometric contraction that will really test your metal.

To perform an extended contrast set:

  • Choose a weight where you’d probably reach failure in 8-12 reps.
  • Perform 4-6 reps with a 5 second eccentric (way down).
  • When you feel like you’ve only got a few reps left in the tank, begin pressing regular, aggressive reps.
  • When you’re close to failure, take one final rep down very slowly (10 seconds or so).
  • Hold the bottom position isometric contraction for 15-30 seconds.
Extended Contrast Set

These are pretty intense, and I wouldn’t recommend performing more than 1-2 of these in a session.

You can hit 2-3 normal sets or regular tempo sets, and hit one of these as a finisher.

I also prefer to use this method with either DB presses, curls or pulldowns. Some movements would be difficult to perform with an extended isometric contraction at the end.

Sample Session (Chest/Biceps)

Below is a workout sample from the SWOLE TOWN program. I frequently like to mix in these methods in my programming, and if you’re looking for solid programming I highly recommend checking it out.


The last 2 movements (deficit push up/hammer curls) are to be performed as a superset, resting 60-90 seconds after completing both. Videos are below if you don’t know how to perform these.

Barbell Bench
462-3 min
DB Tempo
Hex Press
*4 seconds up/down
**Low incline bench
310-8-Max2 min
Barbell Biceps
48-8-6-62 min
*Deficit Push ups 3Max90 sec
*DB Hammer Curl312-15
Sample Full Workout (Swole Town)


Here’s a full video on this article if you’re interested:

Adding tempo training into your workouts can have a big impact on muscle growth, and can also serve as way to limit joint stress and over reliance on heavy training.

Remember.. it’s not always about what you do, but how you do it that will have the biggest impact on your results.

With tempo training, we’ve seen that we can increase time under tension, increase metabolic stress and create an occlusion effect, all of which are precursors to muscle growth.

Try adding in some of these methods to your current training split. If it’s new for you, you’ll likely find it quite challenging. But remember, the body does not respond to easy.

I hope you found this article useful. Let me know in the comments below.

Come follow Swole Town over on Instagram (@Swole_Town) and definitely check out the Swole Town programming, delivered through the world’s best training app (TrainHeroic).

Until next time, keep training hard.

You may like: How to get Big arms using BFR Bands

My Wife’s 1000 Rep Ab Routine.  At Home Ab Workout

My Wife’s 1000 Rep Ab Routine. At Home Ab Workout

My Wife: Hey, wanna do abs with me today?


scared of wife's ab routine

My Wife’s ab routine is pretty epic. She’s been doing it for years. Halfway through her 30’s and 2 kids later, she still has shredded abs and can do a 10 minute plank. Not to mention regularly doing this 1,000 rep routine.

If you just want to see the whole routine, you can check it out in the video below: If you’d like a breakdown and some good info on ab training, then read on.

1000 Rep Ab Workout Breakdown:

1000 reps workout

How Often Should You Work Your Abs?

Most experts recommend working your abs at most every other day. This allows a day in between for the muscles to recover, helping you avoid injuries. Just like any other muscle in the body, you don’t want to train your abs every day.

My wife does this routine two times per week and does another core routine with planks and weights 1-2 times per week. She’s been doing this for years without any injuries, and has a six-pack to show for it.

What If You’re Just Starting Out?

If you’re looking to start training your abs and core, you definitely don’t need to start with 1,000 reps. Instead of doing 100 reps of each exercise, try doing 15-20 reps. Then add reps each week until you feel ready to do the whole workout.

People mistakenly believe that more is always better. In this case, as is usually the case with exercise and working out, it is not. Always build up to higher volumes of training and make sure you’re able to recover.

5 Ab exercises to start with

She recommends using these 5 exercises if you’re just starting out. Do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps of each. Do this 2-3 times per week max when you’re just starting out. Then build up to hitting your abs more often over time.

Crunches with feet on the ground

  • Lay on your back with your feet on the ground
  • Don’t pull on your neck when you crunch up. This puts unnecessary strain on your neck and can create injuries.
  • Gently crunch up by flexing your abs, squeezing them on each rep.

Leg Raises

  • Lay flat on your back, hands under your butt.
  • Keep your back and head touching the floor throughout the movement.
  • Keeping your legs straight (slight bend is ok) raise your legs to 90 degrees, then back down.
  • Try to keep from touching your feet to the ground
  • The legs are a long lever, making injury risk higher. Stay under control with slow, controlled movements and don’t force reps out.

Knees to Chest:

  • Start from a high plank position (push-up position).
  • Bring your knee to your chest, then back out. Repeat for 10 reps each side.
  • This movement can help get you started on building core strength and stability for more intense training in the future.


plank position abs
  • Assume the plank position by resting on your forearms and feet.
  • Don’t allow your body to sag (hips to the floor) or arch up.
  • Try to keep your body in a straight line.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 30 seconds, then add more time each week.
  • Planks build core strength and endurance and have many other physical benefits.

Side Planks

side planks ab workout
  • If you felt comfortable in the plank position, try 2-3 sets of 30 seconds each side in the side plank.
  • Again, your body should form a generally straight line from head to foot.
  • Side planks work the oblique abs really well and build endurance in the upper body as well.

Diet and Nutrition for staying lean

No discussion about abs would be complete without talking about nutrition.

My wife puts me to shame when it comes to eating healthy. She isn’t extreme about it, but here are some things that I see her do every day that help her stay lean and strong.

  1. She Juices every morning. First, a shot of ginger, lemon juice and turmeric. Then a green juice containing a variety of vegetables and sometimes fruit. Her favorite is:
juicing for lean abs workout

2. She drinks a gallon of water every day. She carries around a gallon jug and makes sure she finishes it each day. This helps cleanse the body and stay hydrated. It also help to keep your stomach feeling more full.

3. She prefers protein over heavy carbs and sweets. At dinner she will sometimes eat a piece of chicken or steak and barely touch the potatoes or rice. She’ll eat vegetables instead. Protein builds muscle and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

4. She does moderate intensity cardio and lifts weights at least 2-3 times per week. (See this article if you want to know more about this). Lifting/resistance training makes your body a fat burning machine. The article I highlighted above can help you to understand how this works.


I hope you liked this article. The purpose was not only to display my wife’s ab routine, but also to offer some insight into how you can achieve a leaner body and shape up your abs by dissecting what she does.

My wife isn’t usually too into my blog posts, but since I know she’ll be reading this one.. I love you babe! And maybe, just maybe… I’ll do abs with you tomorow.

Thanks for being here, and I hope this article helped in some way to get you a little closer to that best version of yourself.

If you liked this article, check these out:


Cardio for Optimal Fat Burning, Weight Loss and Health

Cardio for Optimal Fat Burning, Weight Loss and Health

How can you properly do cardio for optimal weight loss, fat burning, fitness and health? My goal is to give you all the information you need, plus a cardio workout program at the end.

It is possibly the most overused word in the gym… “Cardio.”

  • The buff guy walking on the treadmill says he’s doing an hour of cardio.
  • The lady maxing out the speed on the elliptical says she’s doing cardio, right before she passes out from exhaustion.
  • The strange guy with the short shorts doing some form of a crossfit workout says it’s his cardio day.

Which one of them is actually doing cardio?

What is Cardio?

To answer the above question, we will need a definition of what cardio means. We’ll need to understand this so we can actually make sure we’re getting the benefits we think we are from the activity we’re doing.

Cardio is short for “cardiovascular.” I know you already knew that, but I’m going somewhere with this…

Training the cardiovascular system implies that we’re performing Aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is any activity from low to high intensity that relies primarily on the aerobic energy system; this means that the body is able to use oxygen to meet all of the demands of the activity.

Exercise Intensity Determines whether it’s aerobic or not.

As exercise intensity increases, the aerobic system can no longer supply all of the energy needed to continue. As a result, the anaerobic energy system will begin to dominate. Instead of oxygen, stored energy in the muscles will be used for energy, and will run out fairly quickly.

So, the buff guy on the treadmill gets a pass. The lady sprinting on the elliptical was probably outside of the aerobic zone. The short shorts guy doing Crossfit; well it really depends on the intensity and duration of his workout.


Let’s go ahead and get a definition so we can move on:

Cardio – Any activity, from low to high intensity, involving constant movement lasting at least 20 minutes, where the aerobic energy system is supplying the majority of the energy.

Cardio Can Serve Different Purposes

If I were your trainer, I would never tell you to go do “cardio.” I would tell you specifically:

  • What to do
  • How long to do it for
  • What heart rate range I want you in for the duration of the session
  • How it should feel to you (perceived exertion), on a scale from 1-10

This is because there is no best form of cardiovascular exercise. The best method of training depends entirely on your goals and your current abilities. The form of cardio you’re doing should match up with this.

Fat Burning and Weight Loss

fat burning cardio

Understanding how the body works can really open your eyes to what you’re doing in the gym.

Your body stores fat as a means to store energy for future use. Fat cells are basically balls of energy. It’s a survival mechanism. If food became scarce, that stored fat could keep you alive. Of course, food isn’t exactly scarce these days. We’re cursed with our own biological adaptations.

Our bodies burn fat most efficiently at rest and during low intensity activity. This is because the process of breaking down fat cells into energy is very efficient, but slow. Fat cannot be used to fuel more intense anaerobic activity. Thus, fat is burned most efficiently during lighter activity.

The traditional “fat burning” zone would look like this:

  • 50-70% of your max heart rate. (Max HR = 220 – Age)
  • A pace where you could carry a conversation, a level 3-5 on the perceived exertion scale.)
  • Use any cardio machine, fast walking/jogging, or a combination.
  • 30-60 minutes of low intensity exercise

For Optimal Fat Burning, You Need Higher Intensity Training

high intensity cardio

The “Fat Burning Zone” is great and all, but it’s only a piece to the puzzle. It is not the ultimate method for losing fat. Again, understanding our bodies can really give us insight into what we’re doing when we work out.

During higher intensity workouts, it’s true that we burn a smaller percentage of fat for energy. However, at higher intensities you’re also burning far more total calories. Less efficient doesn’t necessarily mean less total fat burned. Here’s an important fact to keep in mind:

The only place in the body where fat gets burned is in Muscle tissue

Training only at low intensities will never encourage your body to build or maintain muscle. More powerful muscles are fat burning machines. They take more energy to maintain. As a result, resistance training and higher intensity cardio can increase your resting metabolic rate.

Resting Metabolic Rate

Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body burns at rest. If you can burn more calories while you’re binge watching Netflix or shopping on amazon, you will inevitably lose more fat and become leaner.

Recovering from higher intensity workouts takes energy, too

Higher intensity workouts create an “after-burn” effect. Since the body requires more energy to recover from these sessions, additional calories will be used. Since you’re at rest while you recover, fat will be used to fuel this recovery. It’s a simple concept that adds value to incorporating some resistance training and higher intensity training to your workouts.

The 3 Cardio Zones

I don’t really like the traditional cardio “zones.” I like things to be simple, and there’s no need to complicate things unless you’re an elite athlete looking for very specific adaptations. I like breaking it down into 3 groups:

Low IntensityModerate IntensityHigh Intensity
Basic endurance
Good for beginners
Cardiac Output
Improve aerobic abilities
Build Endurance
Major Health Benefits
Training Zone
Aerobic Power
50-70% of Max HR70-80% Max HR80-90% Max HR
30-90 Minutes20-60 Minutes10-25 Minutes

How To Train in Each Zone

Here are some examples of how to train in each of the 3 zones. As you’ll see towards the end of this article, using a combination of these methods is what will get you optimal results for burning fat and losing weight.

Low Intensity

  • Use any cardio machine, brisk walking/jogging, or any light activity.
  • You should keep constant movement and be able to hold a conversation
  • You should feel like your level of exertion is a 3-5 out of 10.
  • Heart rate 50-70% of your max HR.
  • 30-60 minutes


  • Stimulates recovery in the body
  • Burns fat
  • Increases blood flow into joints and muscles

Moderate Intensity

  • Use any cardio machine, jogging or other activity
  • You should be able to talk, but not full conversation
  • Should feel hard but maintainable
  • Heart rate 70-80% of max HR
  • 20-60 minutes


  • Improved Cardiac Output: Heart pumps more blood per beat
  • Improved endurance
  • Increased size of left ventricle of the heart – (stronger heart)
  • Improved cardiovascular system
  • Studies show can reduce risk of dying from all causes

High Intensity

  • Running/Sprinting in intervals: (ex, 1 minute run, 1 minute walk).
  • Can use circuits with full body exercises done in intervals
  • Should feel difficult. Exertion 8-9 out of 10
  • HR 80-90% of max HR or greater.


  • Improved Aerobic power: Your body’s ability to use oxygen
  • Metabolic rate is higher for several hours after the workout
  • Can gain muscle
  • Can get a lot done in a short time

So What’s the Best Way to do Cardio?

As stated earlier, there is no “best method.” Each method has it’s own place in your plan of attack, and all three are necessary if you want optimal results in losing fat and improving your health and fitness.

For Best Results, Use Various Approaches.

The best results will come by reaping the benefits of all three forms of cardio:

Use High intensity training to stimulate aerobic power, build muscle and boost metabolic rate.

Use low intensity to promote recovery from harder workouts and to continue burning fat when you would otherwise be doing nothing.

Use Moderate intensity training most frequently to reap the massive benefits of improved aerobic fitness.

The Massive Benefits of Focusing on Moderate Intensity Training

Studies have shown that the higher a person’s level of aerobic fitness, the less chance that person has of dying from all causes. Read the quote below from the largest study on this topic every compiled:

“cardiorespiratory fitness was inversely associated with all-cause mortality without an observed upper limit of benefit.”

aerobic fitness and mortality

I’ve mentioned this before in previous articles because it is so important. Aerobic fitness and mortality are intimately related. Improving your aerobic fitness can help you not only feel better and live a better life, but also to live longer. Read the article for yourself here:

Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing

By performing different types of cardiovascular exercise, you can build your aerobic fitness from the ground up, while burning fat, losing weight and getting a more toned body in the process.

An example of how to split up your cardio workouts:

cardio for weight loss toned body

This is just an example. Depending on your current abilities, you can always do more or less. The important points to always keep in mind are:

  • Treat high intensity training with respect. More is not better. Studies show that 2 days per week, or 40 minutes per week, is optimal.
  • Use low intensity training to stimulate recovery and keep your body moving and burning calories and fat.
  • Focus on moderate intensity training to get the biggest overall benefits
fat burning workout cardio
Example of how to split up your workouts for optimal results.


I hope you enjoyed this article. If you think it’s important, feel free to share it. Cardio is often misunderstood, but is a critically important part of any workout program. Understanding how your body works and what you’re trying to accomplish can take you to new levels of fitness and health. As always, I hope this helps get you a little closer to that best version of you.

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

Related Articles:


How Does Your Body Burn Fat?

The Best, and Easiest Way to do More Pull Ups

The Best, and Easiest Way to do More Pull Ups

If there’s one body weight exercise that is the staple for upper body strength, it’s the pull up. Many otherwise strong and fit looking men and women struggle just to do a few solid reps.

If you’re struggling to get your numbers up, then this article is for you. I have the simplest and most effective methods for increasing pull ups that have worked for myself and for many others. It isn’t fancy. It isn’t complicated. But, it works. And that’s all that matters.

If you can’t do a single pull up, I recommend starting out using Pull up resistance bands, and spending some time focusing on getting stronger before you start trying to boost your numbers.

What won’t work

I always like to start off with the common mistakes people make when trying to achieve a goal. In this case, the biggest mistake I see (and have made myself) is trying to do way too much volume.

Following someone else’s 200 pull ups per day method isn’t going to work for you if you can only get a few solid reps. Even if you can do 10 right now. It just isn’t necessary to kill yourself with hundreds of reps!

Check out these two simple methods, then read on to see how you can use them together to boost your pull up numbers dramatically.

Greasing the Groove

“Greasing the Groove” is a term coined by Pavel Tsatsouline, the legendary Russian Trainer. It means performing a movement often, without going to failure or using heavy resistance. The purpose is to reinforce the movement pattern.

The human body is an amazing machine. It is always seeking efficiency: The ability to perform tasks using the least amount of energy. If we repeat something often, we reinforce the neuromuscular efficiency of that movement.

Repetition teaches the nervous system to more efficiently recruit muscle fibers to perform the movement.

**If you don’t have access to a gym, get a Doorway Pull up Bar and do them from home!

How to “Grease the Groove.”

improve pull ups

To use this method, simply perform a set of one or two pull ups periodically throughout the day, keeping a count of how many total reps you’re doing. Start with a low number like 10 or 20 each day and slowly increase that number over time.

Using this method, you shouldn’t be going for max reps or pushing the envelope at all. You simply perform a couple reps, and then go on about your business.

The Once a Day Max Rep Set

A few years ago, while preparing for a military training, I had a goal of being able to do 20 pull ups. At the time I was able to get 8-10.

I researched several methods and took advice from a lot of people. I tried using pyramids and my numbers actually suffered. Every approach I used involved high volume. I was doing hundreds of pull ups, but I still couldn’t get more than 10 in one set.

Then I ran into a trainer who really changed my perspective on the whole problem. He told me to just do one set every day of as many reps as possible, then leave it alone. Fast forward about 6 weeks from that day, and vuola! I got 21 pull ups!

How to use the once a day max rep method

This is probably the easiest method possible. And while I know people love fancy programs and schemes, all that matters at the end of the day is what works. And this works.

Simply perform one set of max reps of pull ups each day. It’s tempting to want to do more, but don’t. We have it ingrained in us that more is better. But this is a myth in a lot of ways, and training smarter is a real thing.

You can expect that your numbers will go up and down periodically. Don’t be discouraged, as there will be an upward trend if you just continue the process.

easy way to boost pull ups
15% Off Somatrophinne HGH Banner - 728x90

Combine the methods

Now that you understand these methods, let me give you a template I’ve used to get really big improvements in pull ups. You can simply alternate between the two methods, taking one day per week off completely.

If you work out, just perform your pull ups at the beginning of the workout and then go about your training as you usually do.

pull up program


Most people want to be able to do more pull ups. It’s always impressive to watch someone jump up and bang out 20 solid reps on the bar. And that can be you!

To recap, we discussed:

  • Greasing the Groove: repeating a movement often to reinforce movement patterns. This means not going to failure, but doing a few reps repeatedly throughout the day.
  • Neuromuscular efficiency: The nervous system learns to perform a movement more efficiently, recruiting more muscle fibers faster, using the least amount of energy.
  • Once a Day method: Performing one set of max reps each day.

Follow these methods for 6 weeks, and let me know how much your numbers improved!

Until next time, thanks for being here, and I hope this article helps you get a little bit closer to that best version of you.

*Note: This article contains affiliate links. Any item purchases comes at no additional cost to you, and is considered a quality product by us.

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

How to Run Faster.  5 Methods, Plus Full Program

How to Run Faster. 5 Methods, Plus Full Program

So you want to run faster, do you? Welcome to the article that’s going to help you get there. If you follow these principles, there’s no doubt you’ll be a faster runner, and an all around better conditioned, well oiled machine.

I’ve used these principles on myself, as well as on athletes I’ve trained. As a conditioning coach, running is an exciting way to see clear progress by improving energy systems and getting the body to adapt and improve.

Who this program is for

This article and program is for anyone who has a goal of running faster, and has at least some experience running. If you’re just starting or looking to start, check out this program for beginners

Where to Start

run faster plan

In order to know you’re getting faster, you have to have a reference to look back on. Before you start doing anything, get out there and time yourself on a run. Whether it’s 1 mile, or 5 miles, you’ll use that time to measure future progress.

What limits your speed right now?

If you had to go out and run a mile right now as fast as you can… what would stop you from doing it faster?

What is it that determines how fast we can run?

Once we understand what’s limiting our performance, we can seek to improve those areas. As a result, getting faster will be all but guaranteed.

5 Areas to Improve Running Speed

We’ll break it down to 5 components. We can then make a plan on how we’re going to attack our goal of getting faster. We’ll basically be rebuilding the engine. (or beefing it up, if it’s already a strong engine).

  • Aerobic Power, also known as VO2 Max – The maximum amount of oxygen your body can use.
  • Cardiac Output – the amount of blood your heart pumps with each beat.
  • Lactate Threshold – The point at which lactate begins to accumulate in your blood.
  • Mental Toughness – Your ability to keep going when you want to quit. “6 Habits for Serious Mental Toughness”
  • Recovery – Remember, your body improves and adapts only when you actually recover from your training. If you need help, check out my article: How to Recover Faster From Your Workouts

Run Faster – Plan of Attack

run faster plan

Now it’s time to dive in and plan out how we’re going to train to get faster. It’s important to understand that no one method is going to work. You need to include a lot of variety to get big improvements in your aerobic abilities.

First I’m going to give you the methods you’ll use, and then I’ll show you how to specifically program these methods into your weekly schedule.


*From Lowest to Highest Intensities

Cardiac Output

run faster.  cardiac output

Cardiac Output sessions are designed to train your heart to pump more blood per beat. They are the foundation of any training program. These sessions will:

  • Build overall endurance and work capacity
  • Increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart
  • Lower your resting heart rate
  • Improve your recovery abilities, during and after training.

Cardiac Output sessions will be longer, slower cardiovascular training days. These should last at least 30 minutes, up to 90 minutes.

During these lower-intensity sessions, you should aim to keep your heart rate between 130-150 beats per minute. For this reason, I highly recommend using a heart rate monitor to make sure you’re training in the right zone. You can also use it to measure your resting heart rate in the morning.

The Polar H10 is what I’ve used for years. It’s highly accurate and well made with all the features you’d want. It’s $86 on Amazon and worth every penny if you’re serious about your training goals.

80/20 Training Split

Research shows that programs with 80% low/moderate intensity and 20% high intensity training are optimal for performance gains. If you think elite runners are training with high intensity all the time, you’re mistaken.

High Intensity Continuous Training (HICT)

Box Jump.  Run Faster

HICT sessions are designed to improve the oxidative (aerobic) capabilities of your fast twitch muscle fibers.

  • Choose a compound movement, like a step up, squat jump or push up.
  • Perform for a set period of time with 3-5 seconds of rest after each rep.
  • For example.. Do jump squats for 8 minutes, performing one rep every 3-5 seconds.

Continuous High Intensity Running (CHI)

Not the same thing as HICT. Continuous high intensity means running for a set period of time at the maximum speed you can maintain for the entire time.

For example: Run for 10 minutes at as fast of a pace as you can maintain the whole time. Over time, try to either run at a faster pace or add time, or both.

Threshold Training

Threshold training is designed to improve your lactate threshold. Lactate threshold is essentially the “point of no return.” Once you cross the threshold, fatigue sets in quickly and you cannot maintain your pace.

Specifically, we want to be able to run faster at threshold. This means that the aerobic system is able to clear out lactate, and you can continue at your pace, for longer. We’ll use:

  • 3-5 minute intervals running at a pace that feels like a 7/10 perceived exertion, mixed with 2 minutes of walking/easy rest. The pace should be hard, but not “too hard.”

High Intensity Interval Training/Power Intervals

HIIT sprinting

HIIT and Power intervals are the highest intensity training we’ll use, and they should be treated with respect. These sessions will improve aerobic power. They’re also very hard, and will improve mental toughness when done at true high intensity (max effort).

For these sessions, you can use:

  • 400 meter sprints, followed by 400 meters of walking/recovery. We want full recovery before each sprint.
  • If 400 meters is too difficult, sprint 200 meters instead
  • Hill Sprints. Find a hill or use a treadmill with a 10% incline. We’re looking for 2-3 minutes of high intensity, followed by 3-6 minutes of walking/recovery.


Recovery is just as important as any training day. Without recovering from your workouts, you cannot reap the benefits of all the work you’re putting in. As a result, you’ll be wasting effort and potentially burning yourself out or getting injured.

I have a whole article on recovery here. Make sure your low intensity days stay low intensity. It can be tempting to push the pace. Wait for the higher intensity days and then you can push as hard as you can.


Now we’re getting down to business. The most important part to planning your training is figuring out how to split your training up to:

  • Maximize improvements and adaptations
  • Maximize recovery
  • Minimize injuries and burnout

The Program

how to run faster program

The program is broken down into two week blocks. Week A and Week B.

Perform the 2 weeks, then, to ensure progression:

  • Increase Cardiac output days by 5 minutes every 2 weeks.
  • Increase HICT days by 2 minutes every 2 weeks.
  • Increase HIIT sprints/power intervals by adding one interval every 2 weeks.
  • Threshold training, add one additional repetition every 2 weeks

Run Faster Program: Week A

how to run faster program a

Run Faster Program: Week B

how to run faster week b

Wrapping it up

Run this program for 6-8 weeks, then retest yourself. You should see a pretty dramatic improvement in your speed, and you should be in much better condition.

Final Tips

I said it earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. Training with a heart rate monitor can really help make your workouts more focused and specific. As a result, you can ensure you’re training in the right zone for the adaptations you’re trying to get from your workout.

The Polar H10 is a great, affordable option that can really take your training to the next level. I’m recommending it because I know it’s great.


When you’re trying to accomplish any goal, it always helps to have a plan. going about it without a plan is like looking for something in the dark.

Remember to monitor your levels of fatigue. You can always scale things down if it feels too hard, or up if it’s too easy. It’s your body. Listen to it and make sure you prioritize rest and recovery.

These are methods that I know can work, because I’ve used them on myself and on others. I’ve run a 6 minute mile at 240 pounds using these techniques.

Thanks for being here, and I hope this helps you get a little closer to that best version of yourself.

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

References (and recommended reading)

Use Threshold Training to Run Faster, Longer

Use High-Intensity Continuous Training to Improve Power and Endurance

The Science of 80/20 Training