Tempo Training

One unfamiliar concept to many people just starting out is training at a tempo. Tempo training involves breaking the movement into four phases: eccentric (muscle lengthening), a transition position (from eccentric to concentric), concentric (muscle shortening), and the start/end position and then performing those pieces of the movement at a set tempo. When we focus specifically on where our body is in space and how we are moving through movements, we are creating awareness, generating more force, and training more effectively.

A tempo is prescribed using four numbers or letters. The numbers denote seconds and the letters denote an action. (X=explode, A=assisted, J=jump) and each position of the numbers denotes the phase of the movement. The first number is the lowering aspect (eccentric) the second number is the bottom of the movement, the third number is the raising aspect (concentric) and the fourth number is the top of the movement.

Examples of Tempo:

Back Squat @ 3331

Lower yourself to the bottom of the squat in 3 seconds. Pause in the bottom position for 3 seconds. Stand up in 3 seconds. Pause for 1 second at the top before beginning the next repetition.

Pull Up @ 31A1

From a fully extended position hanging from the pull-up bar, assist yourself up using a box to stand on, pause for 1 second with your chin over the bar, lower yourself back to the hanging position in 3 seconds, pause for one second fully extended before assisting yourself back up for the next rep.

Deadlift @ 31×1

Stand up the weight with intent to explode, hold the bar at the top for 1 second, lower the weight to the ground in 3 seconds, pause for 1 second at the ground before beginning the next repetition.

Because pull ups and deadlifts begin with a concentric movement, the movement begins on the third number/letter and proceeds from there.