More and more people are learning about the benefits of incorporating tempo work into their training. Tempo training is an incredibly effective but often under-utilized strategy. It’s all about manipulating the speed of an exercise to maximize muscle hypertrophy, neuromuscular control, and/or lifting technique.
That’s a fancy, long-winded way of saying slow the *bleep* down.
How many people do you see walk into the gym and do every single exercise at the exact same pace? Squats, deadlifts, bicep curls, push-ups… everything is just up, down, up, down, up, down. They look like a wind-up toy no matter what movement they’re doing.
Today’s video is centered around the fact that if you aren’t taking the time to change the tempo of your lifts, you are leaving gains on the table. No more going on auto-pilot and lifting to the beat of an imaginary metronome.
Here’s how tempo training works. Let’s say your compound lift to focus on for the day is a heavy back squat. To indicate the exact tempo of the squat, you would plug in 4 numbers into the formula A-B-C-D.
A is the duration of the eccentric phase of the movement, or the muscle lengthening phase.
B is the duration of the isometric hold between the eccentric and concentric phases. If no pause is prescribed, you can put an X or a zero here.
C is the duration of the concentric phase of the movement.
D is the duration of the isometric hold before initiating the next eccentric phase. If no pause is prescribed, you can put an X or a zero here.
Now, consider the difference between a back squat performed with a 2-2-2-1 tempo versus one with a 3-0-1-0 tempo. The first squat is going to facilitate lots of tension on the working muscles and may feel slower and heavier on the way up following a 2-count pause. The second squat goes down more slowly, but has no pause at the bottom and allows me to explode upward with maximal power output. In both scenarios, I slow down my eccentric phase so I can focus on certain cues like spreading the floor with my feet, driving my knees out, or keeping my chest up. Depending on my goals for the training cycle, one of these tempos may be more beneficial for my individual needs.
Want to build more muscle? Slow down. Want to perfect your form? Slow down. Want to get the most out of your workout in general? Slow. It. Down.
If you’re interested in learning more about tempo training, check out our new HYBRID Powerlifting Course, where I coach you through specific tempo-based accessory exercises for each of the main lifts to help you break through plateaus and crush PRs.
Be sure to comment your questions below and share this video with that one friend who needs a lesson in tempo training. You know who you are. See you guys in the next video!
Test Your Knowledge:
2. Which of the following tempos requires the longest pause at the top of the pull-up?
3. The eccentric phase of an exercise is when the working muscle groups are simultaneously contracting and ____________.
C. Staying a constant length