Skip to main content affiliate

What Is Tempo Training?


What Is Tempo Training?

If you’re new to weight training or trying to catch up on the new lingo on the gym floor, take a look at this Maximuscle Tempo breakdown.

What Does Tempo Mean?

Essentially, ‘tempo’ in weight training refers to the speed that you lift the weight (the concentric phase of movement) and how quickly you lower the weight (the eccentric phase of movement). Tempo is typically shown as a 3 or 4 digit number, with each number referring to the speed at which part of the exercise should be performed.

For example - Bench 40X0

The First Number - The first number refers to the lowering (eccentric) phase of the lift. Using our bench example, the 4 represents the amount of time (in seconds) that it should take you to descend to the bottom of the press. The first number always refers to the lowering/eccentric phase, even if the movement begins with the ascending/concentric phase, such as in a pull-up.

The Second Number - The second number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position or ‘stretch’ position of the lift, the point in which the lift transitions from lowering to ascending. In our bench example, the prescribed 0 means that the athlete should reach the bottom position and immediately begin their ascent. If, however, the prescription was 32X0, the athlete would be expected to pause for 2 seconds at the bottom position.

The Third Number – The third number refers to ascending (concentric contraction) phase of the lift, in other words; the amount of time it takes you to get to the top of the lift.  You’re correct in realising X is not a number.  The X signifies that the athlete should EXPLODE the weight up as quickly as possible.  In many cases, this will not be very fast, but it is the intent that counts. Try to accelerate the weight as fast as you can.  If the third number is a 2 it should take the athlete 2 seconds to get the lift to the top, regardless of whether they are capable of moving it faster.

The Fourth Number – The fourth number refers to the contracted position, and describes how long you should pause at the top of the lift.  Take, for example, a weighted pull-up prescription of 20X2, the athlete would be expected to hold his or her chin over the bar for two seconds before beginning to come down.

Why Should You Follow A Tempo Training Protocol?

The most well-known and most effective way of progressing weight training is simply by adding more weight. However, as you get more advanced it becomes tougher to keep adding weight and progression may slow down. Tempo protocols are a great way to vary your regime as you’re making the muscle spend more time under tension.

Back to Article List

Latest Posts