When a new online client hires me for their performance training, I always make sure to include this little note about tempo training in their program since I used to ALWAYS get asked about it before hand.
” Tempo training refers to the speed of each rep. Time Under Tension is the technical term that dictates the intensity of each rep. For example. if you see “bench press 301″ that just means that it should take you 3 seconds to lower the bar and one second to lift it explosively. If you see a 211 tempo that means that you lower the bar for 2 seconds, pause for 1 second then lift explosively.”
The first number is the eccentric or lowering of the weight
The second number is the pause at the midpoint
The third number is the concentric or lifting of the weight
Tempo is training specific. Olympic and powerlifters don’t need to slow down their lifts at all. If muscle size or fat loss is your goal then tempo training is very effective. There’s no need to include tempo training in every lift, only the major ones. When I say “major ones” I don’t necessarily mean the bench press or squat, a major lift can often time be dips or curls.
What are the advantages of tempo training?
For starters slower tempo work helps to increase stability and connective tissue strengthen. You’ll also find more lactic acid accumulation when using tempos for fat loss training. Tempo training also develops the intermediary muscle fibers which often get ignored. Eccentric tempos maximize type IIb recruitment. A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning research showed the benefits of tempo training muscular endurance, fast force endurance, maximum strength and hypertrophy. The results indicate that you must vary your tempo throughout each workout to produce different effects.
Most importantly, tempo training is VERY effective for breaking out of a training rut, overcoming plateaus and increasing strength.
Here’s some general recommendations
General strength/tempo newbies/increasing body control: 301 or 201 tempo
Size/strength/connective tissue development: 202 or 211 tempo
Hard to develop areas: 211 or 311 tempo
The Hard Facts About Tempo Training
All of the above sounds sexy and like it can really help you. In reality, tempo training is great for overcoming plateaus but who can really focus on counting as they lower then counting as they raise then count their reps. Seriously? It’s simpler than it sounds but you get my point, right? Tempo training can be very helpful but don’t use it every set or in every workout.
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