Tempo; what it is and how can it improve your strength gains.
Have you ever seen those four magic numbers? If not, you are missing out on some major gains. These numbers signify the tempo (speed) with which you move throughout an exercise, and how long you stay in the bottom and top positions of the movement. This will create better alignment which will reinforce good positions, quality reps, and overcoming weak points by spending more time in specific positions.
How to read a Tempo: 33X1
The first number is the eccentric phase (descend) of the exercise, which is the load coming down. (Squatting down, lowering the body of the pull up etc)
The second number is the pause at the bottom. Holding at the bottom of the squat, pausing at the chest on the bench press, pausing at the bottom position of the pull-up.
The third number is the concentric phase, (ascend) which is the weight moving up.
The fourth number is the pause at the top of the movement. For some movements like the squat, it is back to the start position. For others like the pull up it is holding the top position with the chin over the bar.
The benefits of tempo training.
1/ Teaches control through the movement.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced lifter, one of the best ways to increase strength while avoiding injury is to consistently maintain proper movement mechanics. Without control, midline will crash, hips won’t hinge properly, knees will come crashing forward. All that bad stuff we don’t want to see.
2/ Addresses positional weaknesses
This will address better positions, especially when you come up from the bottom of the squat. This will avoid the torso coming forward. Which will help you maintain an upright torso. Long pauses at the bottom will get you out of plateaus and work the midline for sure.
3/ Adds training variety
Being consistent and going through quality repetitions builds a stronger foundation to add upon. Enough said really.
4/ Reduced risk of injury
Controlling the movement and increasing quality of the reps alone can keep you away from injuries.
5/ Don’t count your reps quickly!
Try not to cheat yourself and count your seconds quickly. Even if that means having to go lighter in weight. Putting your ego aside and going a little lighter while moving within the prescribed tempo count will be just as hard, if not more challenging than using heavier weight.
Move with purpose, you’ll definitely be seeing a bit of this coming up in the programming.
By: Matt Jones, Performance coach and Head of programming at Innerfight