How And Why We Use Tempo

Strength Training

Firstly, What do all the numbers and letters mean?


T – Eccentric – Pause – Concentric – Pause

T = Tempo

First Figure = 2 – This is the eccentric (lowering) phase of the lift. The number represents the number of seconds to complete this part of the movement.

Second Figure = 1 – This is the pause at the end of the movement range following the eccentric phase. Example: The pause at the bottom of a squat or a dead hang and arms at full extension in the pull up.

Third Figure = X – This is the concentric (lifting) phase of the lift. The ‘X’ denotes an explosive movement. This can also be a number and the phase will last that many number of seconds.

Forth Figure = 1 – This is the pause at the end of the movement range following the concentric phase. Example: This could be the time taken in seconds between each back squat repetition or time at the top of a pull up with the chin over the bar.

Tempo is used to set the pace of a given movement, with different durations assigned to different parts of the movement.

Here are some of the benefits and why we apply a tempo to our training:

  • Addresses and highlights potential areas for improvement.

  • Teaches control though the movement, allowing time for technique and to maintain good movement mechanics.

  • Adds variety to your training; avoid tedium and aids exercise adherence.

  • Overcome plateaus, the common method of overload is an increase and/or volume. However, there is only so far this can go, adding tempos can bridge gaps and allow progression to continue.

  • Allow us to adjust training stimulus and muscle contraction type; Concentric, Eccentric and Isometric. Applying a change to the tempo of a particular phase will create a desired adaptation. Example: 2 second pause at the bottom of the squat to increase isometric strength in that position.

Hopefully now you have more of an understanding of why we use Tempo in our Programming at CrossFit Jorvik. It’s a really underrated tool when it comes to strength training. You may have seen people training in the gym moving weights from A to B aimlessly with no clear Tempo. Adhering to a tempo can create a greater mind muscle connection, therefore getting the most from your training.

If  you have any questions about tempo fire them over to [email protected]

Article written by Sam CrossFit Jorvik