What is Tempo in Weight Training?

What is Tempo?

Tempo is the speed/journey of the weight we are moving from point A to point B. There’s usually four numbers or parts of the lift.

Let’s use a barbell squat as an example. Here the four numbers translate into time in seconds. The first initial movement for the squat will be eccentric (lowering yourself down with the bar). The second number will be the time/pause at the bottom of the movement. The third number will concentric (lifting – squatting back up), and the final fourth number will be the pause at the top of the squat or so-called starting position.

Once we take the squat as an example and give it a 5010 tempo, the breakdown will be like this:

5 seconds – lowering yourself down

0 seconds – pause at the bottom of the squat/ no rest

1 seconds – squatting the bar back up

0 seconds – pause at the top of the movement

So hopefully you can now see how tempo works – but let me share another example of an exercise, the Lat Pulldown.

We’ll use an example of the 3112 tempo. With this exercise, the eccentric part will start with the bar already pulled to your sternum, starting with releasing the weight up.

3 seconds – eccentric (the bar going up away from you)

1 second – pause in the stretch position (the top)

1 second – concentric lift (pulling the weight down, driving elbows down)

2 second – pause the contraction (shortened muscle)

I coach my clients in many ways that work for their understanding, so they can reap the rewards of implementing the right tempo in their training programs. One of the ways, the more range of motion we use, stretch the muscle, slowing down, contract the muscle (we work a lot harder – requiring less reps even) we burn a lot more calories which equals more weight loss! Win-win! If the tempo is applied correctly, you can burn more calories, build more muscle, and lose more fat with, say, 10 reps instead of 20 reps!

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