@21X1 Have you seen those weird numbers in some programming? Tempo training is definitely something you heard about and you probably don't know what it is. However, it's an approach you should know to improve your workouts and skills!
What is it and how it works?
Tempo training is directly referring to Time Under Tension training (also known as TUT).
This is a type of training where you want to control the amount of tension you put in your muscles to create different stimulus and recruit different fibers.
With Tempo training you will be able to add 4 new variables to your casual rep scheme.
This is how a rep scheme looks like:
- The first number (2) is the duration in second of the eccentric or descending portion of your lift
- The second number (0) is the duration of the pause at the bottom of your lift
- The third (1) is the duration of the concentric or ascending portion of your lift you can also find a “X” at this place which means explode (as fast as you can) or an “A” which means assisted up.
- The last number (0) is the pause at the top of the lift
Pay attention to the first and the third number. The first will always be the eccentric part. If we take a squat for example, the eccentric part is the lowering phase. With a pull-up or a curl, it is the descending phase. And so on for the concentric phase.
Means, 2 seconds on the descent, no pause at the bottom, explode on the ascent and wait 1 second at the top (mostly for reset and breath).
Means, starting from the top, 1 second on the descent, 2 second pause at the bottom, 2 seconds to pull you up and 1 second with you chin above the bar.
What are the benefits?
There are multiple benefits of tempo training and TUT.
- Body awareness
By controlling the tempo you’ll be able to focus on the right muscles to use instead of rushing on a non-proper position/sequence/…
- Improve quality of movements
Of course, you will improve a lot the quality of your movements, and that’s a major point. Controlling the tempo will allow you to control the sequence of your movements, correct your positioning issues and help you to reach the cleanest form you can have. And having the perfect form is what we want when doing Crossfit.
Technique – Consistency – Intensity
- Improve stability
Control means that you will recruit way more your core to be stable. Tempo training will help you to gain a lot of core and stability in your lifts.
- Variety of training
Adding something new will help you to stay constantly varied even in your strength “routine”
- Improve strength
Playing with tempo will create different stimulus on your muscles, stress them in different ways. The result is simple, you will create different tensions where you were not used to working on. And by working on weak portions of lifts (based on your abilities and weaknesses), you will create fibers on your weak links.
Let’s the magic happen and you will notice a significant strength gain.
- Control the time under tension
TUT is a science by itself. The goal is simple: know and play around the total time under tension of your muscles in each set.
For example, if you are doing 8 squats with 2 seconds down and 1 second up, you TUT will be 24 seconds.
This is a quick recap of what kind of TUT goes with which goal :
|Training Goal||Optimal Rep range||Optimal TUT||Seconds per rep|
|Muscle Strength/Power||1-6||4-20 seconds||1 rep = 4-20|
|2 reps = 2-10|
|3 reps = 2-6|
|4 reps = 2-5|
|5 reps = 2-4|
|6 reps = 2-3|
|Muscle Growth||6-15||40-60 seconds||6 reps = 7-10|
|7 reps = 6-8|
|8 reps = 5-7|
|9 reps = 5-6|
|10 reps = 4-6|
|11 reps = 4-5|
|12 reps = 4-5|
|13 reps = 4|
|14 reps = 3-4|
|15 reps = 3-4|
|Muscle Endurance||15-30||70-100 seconds||15 reps = 5-6|
|20 reps = 4-5|
|25 reps = 3-4|
|30 reps = 3|
Which tempo fits to my goal?
If you want to program your own tempo training you should know which tempos fit the goal you have.
If you don’t have set your goals yet you can take a look at one of our last article, we give you some tips about how to find them.
And if you don’t know what muscular endurance, hypertrophy, strength and power mean, we explain you everything here!
This table resume the basic tempo rep scheme you should work on based on your goals:
|Training Outcome||Eccentric (seconds)||Isometric (seconds)||Concentric (seconds)|
|Muscular Endurance||2 – 6 +||1||1 – 2|
|Hypertrophy||2 – 4||1||1 – 2|
|Strength||1 – 2||1||1 – 2|
Reference: NSCA Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd edition (2008)
If you are a Crossfitter we suggest you to play around any kind of tempo to keep you specialized in not specializing. Of course, if you have a lack of one training outcome then go fill the hole and work on your weaknesses.