What is Tempo and how you can apply it –
Tempo is the variable used to control or dictate the duration and speed of a repetition in a given set.
This plays a central role in the execution of your training lift and is often the most misinterpreted variable. Tempo describes the speed with which you should perform the movement of your exercise. You will commonly see a tempo expressed as three or four numbers in a row. For the purpose of this blog we will stick to the four-number method. Below is an example of how it may look:
Each number refers to a specific phase of the lift being executed.
These four phases are as follows:
Eccentric – Eccentric Pause – Concentric– Concentric Pause
Eccentric – The lowering of the weight to the ground. This phase will also see the working muscle going through a lengthening phase under load during your lift. The eccentric phase of the lift recruits 10 times as many motor units as the concentric phase. As such, this phase plays a pivotal role in building strength. Remember: there is a correlation between the strength of a muscle and its cross-sectional size. It makes perfect sense, therefore, to pay close attention to this part of the lift.
Eccentric Pause – This is the phase when you reach the muscles lengthening range and you add an isometric pause /static contraction before moving into the concentric phase of the lift.
Concentric – This phase is the direct opposite to the Eccentric phase. During this phase, the weight will be moving away from the ground as well as the muscle shortens under the load. This is the phase that people tend to be aware of and focus on the most. A slower concentric tempo increases not only tension within the muscle, but also the overall time under tension.
This is a key component to hypertrophic outcomes particularly when done slowly; they often feature in rehabilitation programs.
Concentric Pause – This requires you to add an isometric pause at the end range of the concentric phase of your lift.
This then bring me onto ( TUT)Time Under Tension or Time Under Load (TUL) – This is another one undervalued training variables. It can be used to mimic various things, and is also a great way to control the training outcome. The way in which TUT is calculated is fairly simple. It is the number of reps multiplied by the tempo. For example: 6-8 reps at a 4-0-1-0 tempo
4+0+1+0 = 5seconds
5 seconds x 6-8 = 30-40 seconds
This implies that your set of 6-8 reps should take 30-40 seconds to complete.
It is also important to note that you may come across the letter X within a prescription of tempo. For example, it may look like this:
4-0-X-0 This means that the concentric phase should be performed quickly and explosively (hence the X), moving the weight with as much velocity as possible, as fast as possible.
Hope this has make sense and you find valuable towards planning your training in the future.