Tempo has been around a long time. Renowned strength coaches like Ian King, Charles Poliquin and James Fitzgerald have all written about and utilized it to train their athletes with phenomenal successes. From the developed athlete to the day one beginner there is a place in our training for tempo. With it we develop an amazing sense of body awareness, better connective tissues, and improved control in our lifts. Strength is about being efficient with great mechanics. What all this translates into is greater strength and athletic performance while decreasing the possibility of getting injured.
To begin, perform all exercises in the workout in the order in which they’re written. Our workouts are written similar to a circuit or superset. Here is what an example of what a strength piece may look like:
5 sets of:
So, what is tempo and what does 3010 mean?
Tempo is a simplified way for us to describe the duration for each part of the movement in order to achieve a specific result. The numbers represent the total amount of time that it takes to perform one repetition of a movement that is broken down into four parts. We’ll use the examples above as we describe each number.
The first number represents the lowering or eccentric part of the movement or exercise. Using the prescription for push-ups above, you will take three seconds to lower from the top (plank position) of the push-up to the bottom. Using the chin-up, you again begin at the top (chin above bar) and lower for 3 seconds to the bottom (arms extended). Even though the two are quite different movements you read the tempo description in the same way: eccentric or lowering movement first.
The second number represents the isometric hold or pause at the lowered position. We pause for the prescribed amount of time defined by the second number and then drive back up. For the push-up above the “0” indicates there will be no pause at the bottom, but the chin-up calls for a two second pause before pulling back up.
The third number (or letter) refers to the motion back to the top (or concentric movement) of the exercise. An “X” means you should move as fast and explosive as you are able to without sacrificing great mechanics. An “A” means you should utilize assistance if necessary to get you back into position. This may mean you use your foot or jump back up to the top of the chin-up in order to begin again. If no assistance is needed, substitute a 1 or an X in its place.
The last number is the pause at the top of the movement or lift. In our examples it means there is no pause at the top of the push-up (in plank position), but for the chin-up (chin over bar) you’ll hold for one second.
One thing we’ll leave you with is Slow down! Count the tempos described in the workouts and take the full rests as they are listed. Everyone gets in a hurry while counting and under a load, so break the habit. Using tempo in your workout will give you great progress and better results as part of well-designed program. Next week we’ll talk about why we use tempo and the importance of repetition ranges.
James Hein- moveSKILL.com