There are so many different training techniques floating around the fitness industry. Each offer different methods regarding appropriate exercises, the number of sets and reps, the length of the rest period, and the amount of exercise required per week. There’s so much out there that it’s easy for a game changing concept such as tempo weight training to be overlooked.
It’s time to hit the brakes on cranking out countless reps at the same pace day in and day out. Sure, your muscles are feeling the slow burn, but what if I told you that adjusting the tempo of your reps could spur new muscle growth without requiring you to prematurely lift heavier weights. This technique will also lead to more defined movements as you feel your muscles throughout complete ranges of motion. This will allow you to adjust your form based on self-regulation, ultimately lessening the risk of injury.
Tempo weight training is the pace at which an exercise is performed. The strategy is that by varying the speed at which a weight is lifted and lowered, you will elicit better hypertrophy (muscle growth). To get even more specific, tempo weight training forces the muscle to spend a greater amount of time under tension.
So why should you include tempo training on your next date with the dumbbells? A slow and controlled eccentric (lowering) movement paired with a faster, more explosive (but still controlled) concentric (lifting) movement will set up a solid foundation to improve motor skills, stability, body awareness, and the development of connective tissue. Tempo weight training puts more stress on the muscles through a slow, controlled movement, versus tendinous stress in which bouncy and ballistic motions place stress on the tendons.
Making your muscles work harder and longer under tension during the eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift creates more muscle trauma, leading to greater muscle growth in response. Your core strength is additionally challenged as you are focusing to remain stable and upright while your rigid torso is under load.
The next time you’re attempting the classic alternating bicep curl, try this tempo: 4-0-1-0
1. The first number (4) represents the eccentric (lowering) movement in the lift. Slowly lower the dumbbell to a count of 4 before reaching the bottom.
2. The second number (0) lets you know there is no pause at the bottom of this movement.
3. The third number (1) represents the concentric (lifting) movement, in which you slowly raise the dumbbell counting to a total of 2 seconds before reaching the top
4. The fourth number (0) tells you there is no pause at the top of this lift. For an extra burn, add a 2 second pause here
This 4-0-1-0 tempo will bring about more metabolic adaptations than regular weight lifting. You will feel an increase in your creatine phosphate and muscle glycogen stores, as this particular tempo is more metabolically taxing, producing a hypertrophic and fat burning response in the body. So next time you hit the weight room, be sure to add tempo training into your routine.