Turn Up The Tempo ⏱️ by Coach Matt


Slowing down the COVID19 pandemic by staying home for an unprecedented amount of time has been emotionally challenging. It has also proven to be physically challenging, especially for those of us in a fitness community that like to spend every day at the gym moving heavy weight, slamming barbells, and chasing those sexy PR stars.

However, working out at home with limited equipment or lighter weights gives us the perfect opportunity to slow things down and incorporate tempo training into our workouts. Tempo training is an approach to strength training that incorporates timed and sometimes, paused points of performance in a movement. You’ve probably already experienced tempo training during our programmed workouts at Stealth, or over the past week during our virtual classes. Tempos are written out in short form to tell you how quickly (or slowly) to move (in seconds) for each repetition. It will consist of four numbers or letters to represent each phase of the movement: (E,P,C,P):

  1. The first number is the speed of lowering, or eccentric phase

  2. The second number is the pause at the bottom of the movement, or contraction phase

  3. The third number is the speed of raising, or concentric phase

  4. The last number is the pause at the top of the movement, before the next rep

The application of tempo training is endless ranging from pausing in a heavy squat to slowing down a push up. This helps increase variation in your workouts and movements, and can make your lifts much, much spicier! Here are some examples in application:

Back Squat 32X1

  • 3 -Take 3 seconds to lower down into the bottom of a squat

  • 2- Take 2 seconds to pause at the bottom of a squat (below parallel)

  • X- Explode up

  • 1- Take 1 second rest before starting the next rep​​​​​​​

Push-Up 31X1

  • 3 -Take 3 seconds to lower down into the bottom of a push-up

  • 1- Take 1 second to pause at the bottom of a push-up (chest on floor)

  • X- Explode up

  • 1- Take 1 second rest before starting the next rep

With tempo training, we are able to build tremendous amounts of strength by spending more time under tension regardless of how much weight you have available. It’s so effective in fact, it’s frequently used by competitive Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters to build strength. Tempo training can help us increase our squat clean by learning how to explode out of the bottom of a paused squat, it can increase midline stability while bracing during a paused deadlift, and spending more time doing eccentric movements promotes muscle growth.

Slowing down movement and integrating pauses allows us to focus on the quality of our movement mechanics. Demonstrating proper movement mechanics, or movement patterns are essential and allows us feel which muscles we are using, stabilizing, and engaging during each lift. Proper mechanics is the foundation of all movement and is our ultimate priority. It also limits risk for any injuries by slowing down each repetition, without worrying about intensity. We will continue to be programming tempos into your daily workout routines, so that when we return to the gym, we haven’t missed a beat, and have maintained or even increased our strength overall. Here is our chance to refine our movements, turn challenges into opportunities, and get jacked!

Coach Matt

CrossFit New Brunswick
CrossFit New Brunswick

Photography © DTJ Photography

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