Whether you’re new to keeping fit or you’ve been a gym-goer for a while, chances are that at some point you might hear the term ‘tempo training.’ What is it exactly and how can it benefit your workout routines?
Tempo training explained
Essentially, tempo training relates to the speed at which you perform reps. It includes the lifting and lowering phase, as well as the rest time at the top and bottom of an exercise.
Why should you be bothered about this time under tension, or TUT, when working out at the gym? Tempo training helps to vary your routine and achieve improved physical gains. In particular, if you’ve been working out for a while, you might find that your progress plateaus. While you can make gains by stacking more weights, over time, progression may stall.
This is where tempo training comes in. Altering the speed that you lift weights can prevent your progress from faltering, so it should be included in any fitness regime.
Understanding tempo training
The tempo of an exercise consists of four numbers, such as 3-0-1-0. Each number relates to the speed of each movement in an exercise.
The first number (3) refers to the lowering of the lift, known as the eccentric phase. So, for example, you might lower a bar for three seconds.
The second number (0) relates to the pause at the midpoint or bottom, or the time spent in the stretch part of the lift. Here, the zero figure means that you don’t rest at this point. Alternatively, if the figure was shown as a two, this means you would rest for two seconds.
The third number (1) denotes the lifting element, or concentric part. In this case, you would allow one second to lift. Often, you might see this figure as an X. This means you should explode the weight up as fast as possible.
The pause or contraction at the top of a lift is referred to in the fourth number (0). As it’s zero in this instance, you would return to your starting position without pausing at the top. If the figure was two, and you were performing a weighted pull-up, in this case, you’d hold your chin over the bar for two seconds.
Don’t be confused if you’re doing an exercise that starts with a lift, or concentric, movement, such as a pull-up. Even in this case, the first number of the tempo still relates to the lowering or eccentric phase.
The number differences can greatly influence your workout results. Fast tempo training boosts strength and power, while slower tempos increase the tension in muscles, helping to aid muscle growth.
Benefits of tempo training
Aside from allowing weightlifters who’ve plateaued to achieve extra gains, tempo training offers many benefits to the gym-goer. Not only can it be used on any exercise, but anyone can employ it, making it incredibly versatile.
By altering how much time you spend under tension, you can vary your routines according to your goals, whether you want to increase muscle mass and strength or even lose weight.
Many people praise tempo training as it helps to correct poor techniques when working out. It’s also useful to identify any weak points you have when performing movements. By boosting eccentric strength, tempo training might even help to reduce the risk of injuries. Other benefits include improved stability and strength, development of connective tissue, increased sense of body awareness and better control of lifts.
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