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Unlocking the Power of Tempo in Weightlifting

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Many of us have overheard gym-goers talking about "tempo" during their weightlifting routines. If you're like Person X and find yourself wondering what this mysterious term entails, you're not alone. In this blog post, we'll dive into the concept of tempo, demystify its significance, and discuss how it can elevate your workout experience.

What is Tempo in Weightlifting?

Tempo in weightlifting refers to the speed at which you perform the lifting and lowering phases of an exercise. It essentially breaks down the time taken for each part of a repetition. Each repetition comprises four phases: lowering the weight, a pause after lowering, lifting the weight, and a pause after lifting.

Understanding the Tempo Sequence

Here's a simplified breakdown of the tempo sequence:

  • Lowering the weight: 4 seconds

  • Pause after lowering: 1 second

  • Lifting the weight: 2 seconds

  • Pause after lifting: 1 second

So, on paper, the recommended tempo would look like this:

Why the 2-Second Lifting Phase?

A 2-second lifting phase strikes a balance. If you lift the weight too slowly, you may not recruit high-threshold motor units effectively. Conversely, lifting too quickly may prevent loading the muscle fibers with sufficient force. Therefore, 2 seconds is considered an ideal compromise.

The Science Behind the 4-Second Lowering Phase

A slower lowering tempo increases the amount of active force production and the total time the muscle is exposed to tension. Moreover, it's more fatiguing when lifting the weight than when lowering it. Therefore, a slower lowering phase effectively increases the time under tension without requiring you to reduce the number of reps needed to stimulate muscle growth.

Putting Tempo to Work for You

Now that you understand the concept of tempo in weightlifting, you can apply it to your workouts. Consider incorporating the tempo sequence into your lifting routine. Remember that this is a standardised tempo and can be adjusted based on your fitness goals and experience level. Experiment with different tempos to find what works best for you.

By harnessing the power of tempo in your weightlifting routine, you can fine-tune your workouts to target specific muscle groups, increase time under tension, and achieve your fitness goals more efficiently. So the next time you hear someone discussing tempo at the gym, you'll be in the know, ready to elevate your own training regimen.

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