Weight Training with a Tempo

 

I love all of the possibilities when it comes to designing a workout. You can change one factor and it challenges your muscles, central nervous system and frame a different way.

 

Today I want to discuss working out with a tempo. By changing the speed in which you raise and lower your weight, you can increase your muscle endurance, strength and force production. You will usually see numbers like 4-2-1, 3-2-1 or 1-1-1 and it looks confusing.

 

What do these numbers mean?

 

  • The beginning number is the number of seconds that you will take to lower your weight. It is commonly called your "eccentric contraction" and is when the muscle is being lengthened.

 

  • The second number is the number of seconds you pause at the top or bottom. This is called your "isometric contraction" and is when you pause after your eccentric contraction.

 

  • The third number is the number of seconds you will take to raise your weight or in some cases (like a lat pull down) lower your weight. This is called your "concentric" contraction and is when your muscle is being shortened.

 

Beginners - The 4-2-1 tempo.

 

I use a 4-2-1 tempo for beginning clients as we are working on endurance and stability. Let's break down what these numbers mean. Let's use a biceps curl as an example.

1. You lower your weight to the count of 4 seconds.

2. You pause for 2 seconds

3. You raise your weight in 1 second.

 

Intermediate - The 3-2-1 tempo.

For those who have completed the 4-2-1 tempo and are interested in building strength, I use a 3-2-1 tempo. Let's break this down using a biceps curl:

 

1. You lower the weight with the count of 3 seconds.

2. You pause for 2 seconds.

3. You raise your weight in 1 second.

 

Advanced - The 1-1-1 tempo.

 

The 1-1-1 tempo you will see more commonly with athletes or body builders. Using the biceps curl as an example we will break this tempo down:

 

1. You lower your weight in 1 second.

2. You pause for 1 second.

3. You raise your weight in 1 second.

 

There are a lot of different tempos out there. I use these tempos as they are a part of my training through The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and have been proven to be really effective.

 

Still Confused?

 

Are you doing a chest press (for example) and are confused by these tempos. Ask yourself:

1. When is my muscle being lengthened? This is your "4".

2. When is my muscle being shortened? This is your "1".

3. When do I pause between lengthened position or shortened? This is your "2".

 

As you lower your weight, you will do it to the count of 4 seconds. You pause for 2 seconds and you raise it for 1 second.

 

 

I hope you are able to add these tempos in at the approriate level (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) and enjoy the many benefits to working out with a tempo. Not to mention that it is fun!