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What is Tempo Training?

As we get ready to launch our weekly training programming for our Performance class; I would like to explain what tempo training is and why I think it’s one of the best ways to get stronger. There is a lot of research behind it and all of the top strength coaches in the world use it as a tool.

Tempo training allows for you to have a grasp on the time under tension throughout the exercise. Completing 5 repetitions of a movement explosively on the eccentric (descending) and concentric (ascending) portions will not have the same effect as if you pause during a certain stage of the range of motion. Different tempo prescriptions lead to greater training variety and stimulus. This will lead to improved strength gains. Through tempo training we can also improve an athlete’s technique. It allows for the athlete to feel which muscles are activated, and allows them to have better control of their body.

So what does 30X1 mean? Tempo prescriptions are written in a series of four numbers. These numbers represent the time (in seconds) it should take to complete the four stages of a lift. In a program, the tempo follows the number of repetitions prescribed. For example:

Back Squat 5 reps @ 30X1


First Number

The first number represents the lowering (eccentric) portion of the lift. Using the above back squat example, the 3 represents the time in seconds it should take you to lower the weight to the bottom position of the movement.

Second Number
The second number represents the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the lift. In the back squat example, the 0 means you should immediately begin your ascent when you reach the bottom position.

Third Number
The third number represents the amount of time it takes to complete the ascending (concentric) portion of the lift. The X signifies that you should explode to the top as quickly as possibly.

Fourth Number
The fourth number represents the amount of time you should pause at the top of the lift. In our back squat example, you should hold the top position for one second prior to starting the next rep.



How should you count? I realize this is a simple task. However, many people will count to three in one second. To ensure you count properly, use “one thousands” (1-one thousand, 2-one thousand, 3-one thousand).

I would highly recommend for you to try tempo training for a couple of months. You will notice a change with the quality of your movement and an increase in your strength. If you are not sure how to create tempo prescriptions, then follow our weekly training for the Performance class. If you are looking for a program more specific to your needs, please email me in regards of online coaching.

Shayan Vaghayenegar

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