I thought now would be a great time to discuss the benefits of tempo training when applied to resistance exercise. Some of you who are less experienced with exercise may have never heard of it, so now particularly is good time to learn. You may have heard of time under tension. In layman’s terms, tempo training is the speed at which you perform an exercise movement. The slower you perform the movement, the more difficult it is. It’s a great factor to add into your training especially if you are currently unable to access a gym and are limited to only bodyweight and light resistance equipment.
To understand the basics of tempo training you must also understand the types of muscle contraction. There are three types of muscle contraction whilst under tension and the muscle may lengthen, shorten, or remain the same;
- Concentric – This is when the length of the muscle is shortening. Think about when you straighten out your leg. Your quadricep muscles are shortening and this is known as a concentric contraction.
- Eccentric – This is when the length of the muscle is becoming longer. When you straighten out your arm, the bicep muscle is in an eccentric contraction.
- Isometric – This is when the muscle length remains the same whilst under tension. Think of holding movements such as the plank.
Now that we have a simple understanding of the muscle contraction basics, we can now have a better understanding of how tempo training works. Tempo training programs are made up of four numbers that represent seconds. Each number is a different phase of the exercise movement. You will typically see a focus on the eccentric portion of the movement as this is the part of any exercise movement where people tend to go faster, but ironically it is the part of the exercise movement that can reap the most rewards.
In this example we can see that –
- The eccentric part is 4 seconds. For example, on a bicep curl this would be when you are straightening your arm.
- The concentric part is 2 seconds. For example, when standing up from a squat.
- The 1s represent the pauses that are taken at the end of each movement and involve an isometric contraction.
What are the main benefits and why now is a great time to use it!
Incorporating tempo training into your workouts has some real benefits to be had, such as; building more muscle, increasing strength and body control, stronger joints, boosting your metabolism, improving your exercise form, identifying weaknesses, and most importantly decreasing your risk of injury. It is also great to mix your training up and give you an added training tool that can help you push through training plateaus that you may be experiencing.
Tempo training isn’t just for advanced exercisers. In fact, I would argue quite the opposite. If you are new to exercise, tempo training can be great way to build strength whilst staying injury free. You may be limited to equipment right now with the present lockdown situation so now is a great time to try it.
Give a go on push ups and notice the difference when you really focus on the control of the movement as you lower your body to the ground. I guarantee you will find it much more effective than banging out push ups as fast as you can.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of what tempo training is and how you can incorporate it into your workouts. If you’d like some help designing an exercise program that incorporates tempos then get in touch.
In Health and Wellbeing,