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Intro to Tempo Training

Posted on 15 October, 2016 at 16:40

Tempo training is the concept of determining the speed at which you do an exercise. Generally, when exercising, there are four stages that you can determine the speed at which you move a weight. These four stages are the eccentric portion of an exercise, the midpoint, the concentric portion, and the top point. For example, if you are bench pressing, the portion where the bar descends toward your chest is the eccentric portion of the bench press. The point at which the bar makes contact with your chest is the midpoint. The concentric portion is when you are pressing the weight up, and the top point is where the bar is locked out over your chest. So, if we are training with an eccentric focus of 5 seconds, that means that each rep should have the goal of lowering the weight in about 5 seconds. 

Why use tempo training? Good question. Basically, tempo training takes into concideration: time under tension. Decreasing the speed at which you lower weight, or pausing at the midpoint can increase the time under tension. If the time under tension increases, it allows for hypertrophy, as well as strenghtening of connective tissue.

Lets concider a real life application of controlling the eccentric (think lowering, or more importantly, lengthening of muscle with tension) and the isometric portion of the lift (isometric: think midpoint position, where the muscle is at its longest position with tension). Say you want to increase the total number of pushups that you can do. For the sake of arguement, lets say you can do 10 pushups before failure. Odds are, you are doing fast reps to get as many reps as you can do. Maybe you do 1 pushup per second. This means that it took 10 seconds to do 10 pushups. For the next few weeks, you focus on doing sets of 5 pushups, but you take 4 seconds to lower yourself during each repetition. Each of your 5 reps takes 4 seconds (plus a little bit for returning to the top) and your set takes a total of about 20 seconds, which means that your muscles have help tension in the muscles that are required to do pushups for twice the amount of time it takes you to do your max effort. If you did 3 sets that day, you have spent 60 total seconds under tension for the pushup. If you were to do that for a few weeks and maybe added a rep or a second to each rep every week, your body will accomodate for the tension. Now lets say you test your max pushups again. Your body will be able to hold tension for 20 seconds by this point. And if you perform 1 reps per second, your new pushup max will surely increase (perhaps even double in this example!).

As you can see, controlling the tempo of certain exercises has some major benefits. I concider tempo in all my training and for all my clients training as well. 

Hope this helps!



Categories: Exercises