by Jacob Ross October 19, 2021 3 min read

Nothing is new under the sun. The older I get, the more experience shows me it’s true... that "heavy-duty method, eccentrics, triphasic" are all words that have described, in some form or fashion, the idea of “tempo training.”

Tempo training is simply ascribing a set period of time to lift or lower weight during a specific portion of an exercise, like taking 4 seconds to lower a dumbbell after curling it.  Most people simply lift a weight up and lower it at the same speed without much thought about, Why?

"Should I do something different?"  "Does it matter what speed I lift?"  The answer is, YES!  Like everything in training, details matter and they matter more when they are used in a calibrated, logical manner.


Dip bars

"The research shows utilizing tempo training can greatly increase hypertrophy and strength compared to lifting at the same fast-speed all the time."

Did you know?  Research shows that we are anywhere between 40 to 60% stronger when our muscles are lengthening during an exercise (eccentric contraction or “negative”) as opposed to the shortening cycle (concentric contraction or “positive”).  This is due to a slew of physiological reasons that occur during the sliding filament theory of muscle contraction. Simply stated, in order to take advantage of this physiological principle, you must lower a weight slower than you lift it.  The research also shows utilizing tempo training can greatly increase hypertrophy and strength compared to lifting at the same fast-speed all the time.  It’s also a strategic method to increase proprioceptive feedback during your exercise.

The best way to utilize tempo work is to simply increase the amount of time it takes you to lower weight as it does to raise it.  For example, if you perform a bicep curl and it takes you one second to curl it up, take 3-4 seconds to lower it down.  If you are squatting, instead of dropping down at whatever speed feels comfortable, try and take 5 seconds to lower yourself.

Ass to Grass

"The best way to utilize tempo work is to simply increase the amount of time it takes you to lower weight as it does to raise it."

Just remember to use lighter weight than normal!  The tempo work will induce greater fiber fatigue than lifting at normal speeds.  Start by adding one or two tempo sets as an accessory movement or a bodyweight movement.  Grow into performing tempo sets with larger movements like bench press and squats.  Experiment with really slow tempos into fast tempos, doing half of the set slow right into fast, tempos on partial reps — there are literally endless applications. 

Protein 

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To ensure that you are properly recovering from the greater fiber fatigue from tempo training, try adding the Barbell Brigade Whey Protein Isolate Powder to your arsenal.  Protein provides your body with the raw materials it needs to rebuild muscle tissue and properly recover from your workout.  Barbell Brigade Whey Protein Isolate gives you a quick and tasty formula to fast-track your recovery.

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For those who want an extra deep dive on tempo training, Arthur Jones first popularized tempo training while figuring out how to lift weights while photographing wildlife in Africa in the mid-1900s.  All he had was a 5lb bucket of concrete but he realized if he lowered the bucket much slower than he raised it, that five pounds felt like 50lbs and he could produce enough stimulus to properly train.

He then went on to develop and patent Nautilus and Med X equipment and preach about the benefits of tempo training.  Many of the best bodybuilders in the 70s and 80s trained with Arthur at some point, as he swore he could put an inch on your arms in a few days with his high-intensity training.  Supposedly Arnold himself tried it, but vomited during the sets and never came back.  Regardless, we certainly have Arthur Jones to thank for contributing to the advancement of strength-training knowledge.


Dominate Humbly,
Jacob Ross 
Elite Sports Performance Coach
Jacob Ross
Jacob Ross


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