Routine weight training regimen can be boring occasionally. One great way to add variety to your training is to use tempo. Some people like to lift the weight upwards at fast speed and drop them just as fast. Others prefer to do slow with controlled movements.
Tempo refers to the rate at which you move the weights. Tempo has 3 and possibly 4 numbers like 3,2,1 or 4,2,1,2
- The first number is for the negative or eccentric phase. In other words, when you are lowering the weight or when you are moving in a direction opposite to the muscle contraction. For a squat and a bench press, this would mean lowering the weight.
- The second number is the pause after the first phase is completed. For example, in the bench press, a pause as the weight is held stationary just above the chest.
- The third number refers to the concentric or positive phase – the contraction. For a bench press, this would be driving the bar upwards.
- The fourth number is usually left out, but if present, is the pause at the top of the movement
A number of 1 here typically means, “explode” – in other words, you may do it faster than 1 second.
In the example of 4,2,1,2, you would do this on a bench press:
- Take 4 second to lower the bar to your chest.
- Pause for 2 seconds with the bar held just above your chest.
- Take 1 seconds to drive the bar upwards.
- Pause for 2 seconds at the top.
Note the above is just an example, not a recommendation.
That would be one repetition (rep), and that rep will take about 9 seconds.
If your training program is 3 sets of 10 reps, that would mean you would spend 3 x 10 x 9 = 270 seconds or 4.5 minutes moving weight. Add to that your rest time (between 30 to 90 seconds each set), and you can estimate the length of your workouts.
It is well known that the negative or lowering phase of a lift causes the most micro trauma or “damage” to your muscle tissue. Performing slow negatives for a few training sessions in a cycle may be beneficial for muscle growth. So every 3 or 4 training sessions, you might change to a 4,2,2 tempo. If you are very bold, a 6,1,2 tempo (6 seconds to lower you on a wide-grip pull-up or weighted dip is a great way to load those muscles with tension and elicit some major growth).
Some people have the weak point to pause at the bottom or at the top. Say, your bench press fails at the bottom rather than the top, you might consider a 2,3,1 tempo to improve – take 2 seconds to lower the bar, and then pause for 3 seconds and explode up with 1 second. The pause on the bottom forces your muscle contracts in this case, but the resistance is not moved.
In short, tempo can be a very powerful tool when designing training programs. The idea behind tempo is to ensure you control your movement. Try out different tempo to see the result.
Category: Weight Training
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