In any intelligent workout program you undertake, you should see a 4-character sequence that looks something like this:
What do these 4 characters represent? Actually something really significant when it comes to the results you can expect get from your workout. The combination signifies the TEMPO assigned to each repetition of your prescribed exercise.
In the language of fitness, tempo is the combination of movement speeds that help unlock your potential. It dictates how each repetition will lead to improved performance and physical transformation.
In the example of 3-0-X-1, these characters symbolize the following:
- First (3-0-X-1): represents a three second count to perform the lowering (eccentric) phase of the movement or of a weight
- Second (3-0-X-1): represents zero time in holding (isometric contraction) the position between the lowering (eccentric) and the lifting (concentric) phase of a movement or weight
- Third (3-0-X-1): represents an explosive lifting (concentric) phase of a movement or the weight
- Fourth (3-0-X-1): represents a 1 second hold in the transition between the lifting and the lowering of the movement or the weight
The 3-0-X-1 tempo combo targets fast-twitch muscle fibers in an exercise. So in the example of a front squat, it means improving your vertical jump.
Or a 4-2-3-1 tempo would be a:
- 4-second lowering phase (eccentric)
- 2-second pause (isometric) hold at the bottom
- 3-second lifting (concentric) phase
- 1-second hold at the top
With the 4-3-2-1 tempo, the slower speeds and longer pauses result in building “slow-strength”. Grappling in sports benefits from this quality.
In other instances, this tempo helps to magnify and strengthen areas of muscle weakness along a joint’s path. I also like using this tempo to help clients better connect with and feel what’s happening in their body.
3-ways to use tempo to your advantage:
- Make the most of every rep
- Target and improve specific fitness qualities
- Use this variable to manipulate to stimulate change in the body
So be as mindful of your tempo as you would your sets, reps, intensity, and recovery time. It will for certain impact how intense any exercise feels…regardless of the resistance.
And remember to take into account what the aim of an exercise is beforehand. Take Olympic lifts, for example. An explosive execution is necessary to increase the rate of force development – your measure of explosive strength or simply how fast you can develop force. Anything less will yield a fraction of your potential.
You’ll see tempo used throughout my online programming so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck. Now it’s up to you be mindful in using them to your benefit.
Making the most of every rep,