Tempo Training – The Natural Way

05 Jun Tempo Training – The Natural Way

Tempo Training – The Natural Way





I’ll confess it. I don’t assign tempos to lifts for my athletes or for myself. This may be heresy in some circles but it annoys me when I see someone without a great deal of experience doing a tempo bench or tempo squat.

It’s not that I don’t see merit in assigning tempos for beginner lifters, I just don’t like that it tends to turn them into robots with choppy movements who don’t focus on quality or fluidity of movement.





The Numbers

When looking over training templates and programs, you’ll generally see tempo written like this: 3-0-1-0 or 3010. To make sure we’re on the same page, the first number is the eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift, the second number is any pause midpoint through the lift, the third number is the concentric (or lifting) of the lift, and the fourth number is any pause at the top.

So using a 3010 for a squat — means taking 3 seconds to descend into the squat (3), not pausing at the bottom (0), taking 1 second to stand back up (1), and not pausing at the top once you’ve stood all the way back up before the next rep (0).


The Benefits

To be candid, I love the idea of tempo training because of everything it does for the lifter or athlete.  Tempos increase time under tension (TUT) which can improve body awareness, strengthen and develop connective tissue, improve work capacity, improve stability and build muscle. The basic idea is that the muscle grows because it is exposed to a stress for an extended amount of time. Tempo ensures that you don’t rush through your reps and sets with fast jerky movements cheating yourself of benefits.


Missing the Forest For The Trees, or However the Expression Goes

Most coaches assign tempos to their clients/athletes’ training programs to slow down their movements and develop a natural cadence to their lifts, but when you look at them following these tempos, their movements look anything but natural.

The bar should descend at an even pace rather than rapidly descending for the first half of the movement only to screech to a much slower pace a couple of inches from the bottom.

It should come down at a nice even pace and pushed up just as smoothly.

Check out what I mean in the video below:



Although I didn’t assign a tempo for this lift, it was a high volume day and I wanted to get as much out of each rep as I could. So, I innately slowed down the bar speed on the eccentric portion to do so. The tempo I used was basically a 2010 but I definitely wasn’t counting seconds in my head.


To make sure I sound completely hypocritical, tempo training is great and some lifters definitely should assign them to their lifts but my point is that it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the quality of movement. Focusing on seconds in your head can lead to missed reps and reduced tension during a set.


Got an opinion? Let me know in the comments.



Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam.(Thanks toTim Ferriss and  Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.