Tempo- What is it and how to use it in your exercise program


1.     What is Tempo?

Tempo training has been around for a very long time and was popularised by Strength Coach Charles Poliquin. Tempo is using a numbered system that represents how fast or slowly we move through the range of motion of a given exercise.

2.     What do the numbers mean?

Let us look at a simple example of Tempo. There are a few different systems out there, but Leaner uses a four digit tempo.

Example 1

Exercise = Squat, Tempo = 4010 (Commonly used for Hypertrophy)

4 seconds- When you move slowly down from the top to the bottom position with control (Eccentric)

0 seconds- When you get to the bottom, how long you pause there for (Isometric)

1 seconds- When you move from the bottom to the top position (Concentric)

0 seconds- When you reach the top position, how long you pause there for (Paused position)

Example 2

Exercise = Bench Press, Tempo = 2121(Commonly used for Hypertrophy)

2 seconds down with control from the top position

1 second pause above the chest under tension

2 seconds back up slowly and with control with a focus on squeezing the muscle

1 second pause

Example 3

Exercise = Front Squat, Tempo = 20X0 (Commonly used for Strength)

2 seconds down to the bottom with control

0 second pause in the bottom position

X second explosive movement from the bottom to the top position

0 second pause at the top

Example 4

Exercise = Dip on Parallel Bars, Tempo = 3010 with 1 ¼ rep at bottom (Commonly used with Hypertrophy)

3 seconds down from top to bottom

1 ¼ so you get to the bottom and perform a 1 ¼ rep at the bottom (think a partial rep)

1 second up fast

0 second pause at the top

3.     What are the benefits of using Tempo?

So why should you use all these confusing numbers?

Well there are several benefits.

-         The controlled movements create a stronger neuromuscular link improving coordination and performance of the exercise

-         There is less post muscle soreness and improved recovery post workout

-         A great tool to overcome plateaus in weights lifted

-         Increase blood flow to an injured area so slow movements are ideal for rehab

-         Burns more fat than normal workouts

-         Increase strength gains faster

-         Iron out any weaknesses you have in your strength curve (range of motion)

4.     How can you use Tempo?

Tempo can be used to create specific muscular adaptions depending on what your goal is.

-         If you want to get stronger? Use Explosive reps

-         Want to be more explosive and jump higher? Use plyometric methods

-         Want to get larger? Use slow reps, squeezed reps, partial reps, isometric holds

-         Want harder more toned looking muscles? Use controlled eccentric and explosive concentric  reps with heavier loads