Achieve Maximum Results with Tempo Training

Achieve Maximum Results with Tempo Training

Very often we come to the gym excited for our daily workout and new exercise regime. Every balanced program should include a precise number of sets and repetitions that help manipulate our workout volume in order for us to get big or shredded. But simply moving weights around has little to no impact on muscle development or body composition. Most of us are aware of how many sets and repetitions we need to perform for every exercise, but almost nobody thinks about how long each repetition should take?

Tempo training is the component missing from your resistance training, with a crucial role in strength and muscle building.

What is Tempo Training?

Tempo Training refers to the time under tension of each repetition, for any given exercise. This type of training is the best way to increase strength while avoiding any injuries, maintaining a proper movement mentality. Using Tempo Training you control the speed at which you move during an exercise, and how long you stay in each part of the movement.

It is measured by the time spent on four phases of a repetition. These four phases include:

  1. Eccentric portion - (descent/negative or muscle lengthening) of the repetition, which is the load coming down. (Example: Lowering the barbell during benching, Squatting down, etc.)

  2. Isomentric or Paused portion at the bottom – (isometric/muscle nonmoving) Holding the pressure of the weight at the bottom part or transition of the movement, (Example: Pausing at the military press, pausing at the bottom part of a squat, etc.)

  3. Concentric portion (ascend/muscle shortening) – Which is the weight going up. In some Tempo Training programs an X is included, this means to perform the Concentric portion as fast as possible.

How to use Tempo Training?

Depending on your goal, you will choose a different Tempo style.

If you’re more oriented towards bodybuilding, then keeping a slower Tempo would be best. For best muscular development, you should aim for a repetition to last between 4-6 seconds and around 25-72 seconds per set (6-12 repetitions per set). The actual truth is you can’t lift excessively heavy with a slow and controlled Tempo. So leave your ego out of the gym, and lose up the weight on the bar. For hypertrophy, you should use a moderately heavy weight (60- 80% of your 1 rep maximum) for optimal muscle stimulation (1).

If you’re looking to maximize strength gains, the training tempo will alter. For best strength progress, your goal should be a perfect mind-muscle connection. With a good connection of the brain and the muscle fibers, you will be able to recruit more strength for each exercise. This process is called neural adaptation (2). In order to create this adaptation, you have to perform each repetition extremely fast (Tempo of 1/1/1). You should be lifting a maximal load (95-100% of your 1 rep maximum). With the combination of very heavy weight, and fast tempo, your nervous system will be forced to involve more muscle fibers, therefore creating more strength.

Examples of Tempo Training for individual goals:

  • Muscle building

Training Tempo: 4/2/1-2 (4 seconds Eccentric portion, 2 seconds Paused portion at the bottom, and Concentric portion 1-2 seconds)

  • Strength/Power

Training Tempo: 1/1/1 or 2/2/1-2 (1-2 seconds Eccentric portion, 1-2 seconds Paused portion at the bottom, and Concentric portion 1-2 seconds)

Benefits of Tempo Training

Tempo Training has various benefits, some of them include:

  1. Improved strength – One of the best ways to boost strength while preventing injuries are proper movement mechanics. When you’re performing a set fast and unprepared, you miss important key points such as midline stability, knee position, foot position, control, balance, etc. Tempo Training can help you slow things down, concentrating through the whole movement, while learning what works best for you.

  2. Breaks Plateaus – Do you have trouble breaking a plateau? You tried everything, but the weight simply won’t go up. Tempo Training can solve this problem. The goal is to overload the positions you’re weakest in, while improving proper balance and strength. Working with low reps and fast tempo, the plateau will be broken in no time.

  3. Reduces Injury Risk – Having full control during a movement, you will not only increase your repetition quality, but you will also significantly lower injury risk. Using Tempo Training you are strictly focused on the form, developing a more efficient and safer way to perform a movement.

Now you have all the needed knowledge to increase your muscle mass, strength, and to break any frustrating plateaus. These where just general guidelines, you can alter Tempo Training according to your personal preference.


  1. “Reliability of the One-Repetition Maximum Test Based on Muscle Group and Gender.”

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