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3 Reasons Why Tempo Training Is Important For Your Gains

Written by: Kosta Telegadas, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Tempo training is a valuable tool for strength and conditioning professionals to improve the performance of their athletes. This method involves manipulating the tempo, or speed, at which an exercise is performed to increase the intensity and difficulty of the movement. Utilizing tempo training can provide a variety of benefits, including improved muscle strength and endurance, increased muscle activation, and enhanced hypertrophy.

woman exercising on stationary cycling machine in indoor fitness gym

Reason No.1


One key advantage of tempo training is its ability to increase muscle strength. By slowing down the tempo of an exercise, more time is spent under tension, which can lead to greater gains in strength. For example, performing a bench press with a tempo of 5 seconds on the eccentric (lowering) phase, a 2-second pause at the bottom, and a 1-second concentric (lifting) phase can challenge the muscles more than a traditional bench press at a faster tempo. Research has shown that a tempo of 2-3 seconds on the eccentric phase can lead to significant increases in strength compared to traditional lifting.


Reason No.2


Another benefit of tempo training is its ability to increase muscle activation. By slowing down the tempo and performing each phase of an exercise with control, more muscle fibers are recruited, leading to greater muscle activation. This increased activation can lead to improved overall muscle endurance and hypertrophy. For example, performing a squat with a 3-second eccentric phase and a 1-second concentric phase can lead to increased muscle activation in the quadriceps and glutes, which are the primary muscles involved in the squat.


Reason No.3


Tempo training can also be used to enhance hypertrophy or muscle growth. By increasing time under tension, the muscles are subjected to greater stress, which can lead to increased muscle fiber size and density. A common tempo for hypertrophy training is 4 seconds on the eccentric phase, a 1-2 second pause, and a 1-2 second concentric phase. By using this tempo, more metabolic stress is created, which can lead to greater muscle growth.


How to Apply Volume & Intensity:


When utilizing tempo training, it is important to consider the percentages of 1 rep max, sets, and reps. The appropriate percentage of 1 rep max will depend on the specific goal of the training. For strength training, a higher percentage of 1 rep max, such as 80-88%, may be used, while hypertrophy training may use a lower percentage, such as 60-70%. Sets and reps should also be adjusted based on the desired outcome. For example, lower reps (2-5) with longer rest periods are typically used for strength training, while higher reps (6-10) with shorter rest periods are typically used for hypertrophy.


Example 1: Strength Gains (3 Week Wave – Lower Body Back Squat Example – Eccentric Only)


Week 1: Back Squat – 4x3 (5 seconds down) @82.5%


Week 2: Back Squat – 4x4 (5 seconds down) @82.5%


Week 3: Back Squat – 5x2 (5 seconds down) @87.5%


Example 2: Hypertrophy Gains (3 Week Wave – Upper Body Bench Press Example – Eccentric Only)


Week 1: Bench – 3x8 (5 seconds down) @62.5%


Week 2: Bench – 4x8 (5 seconds down) @62.5%


Week 3: Bench – 4x6 (5 seconds down) @68.5%


Special Considerations:


As with any training program, there are always some special considerations:


Consideration No.1 Total Time Under Tension


The first consideration is the total time under tension. In my own personal experience, if the total time under tension per set exceeds 30 seconds, then strength gains will start to diminish. Now this applies only to higher-level intermediate, advanced & elite athletes. Beginner, novice & low/mid-level intermediate tenured athletes can still benefit from the total time under tension per set being slightly over 30 seconds.


Consideration No.2 Recovery


The second consideration is understanding recovery. For both strength and hypertrophy adaptations, the human body requires around 8 hours of sleep per night and a well-balanced diet to increase overall performance in both of these categories. Sleep allows the central nervous system to recover from the higher intensity or high-volume training sessions, while diet allows the body to repair the micro-tears on the muscle tissue at a faster rate. I am not a dietitian, so make sure to consulate a registered dietitian if you believe diet to be a real issue.


Conclusion:


In conclusion, utilizing tempo training is an effective strategy for strength and conditioning professionals to improve the performance of their athletes. This method can lead to increased muscle strength, activation, and hypertrophy. By manipulating the tempo, the muscles are subjected to greater stress, which can lead to greater gains in performance and adaptations. Proper percentages of 1 rep max, sets, and reps should be considered to achieve the desired outcomes of strength or hypertrophy. Make sure to take into consideration diet, sleep & overall recovery for the maximal effect of training to enhance overall adaptations. As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly on Instagram or through my coaching email.


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Kosta Telegadas, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kosta Telegadas is a leader in the strength and conditioning for tactical athletes and martial artists all over the world. He found physical training as a necessity to grow up playing sports, help prevent injury & give back to the country that gave his family so much over the generations. Coach Telegadas has a Master's Degree from the University of Miami (FL) and over 7 years of coaching experience with both professional, college, high school & tactical athletes. He is currently the Head Coach/CEO of Telegadas Performance Training and dedicates his time to make physical training programs & remote coaching accessible to all. His mission: If you stay ready, you never have to get ready!

 

References:

  • Biagioli, B. (2015). Advanced Concepts of Strength and Conditioning

  • Dietz, C. Petereson, B. (2012). Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Performance

  • Dietz, C. Van Dyke, M. (2016). Triphasic Training Tactical Manual

  • Verkoshansky, Y. (2003). Supertraining

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