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Is it worthwhile to add tempo to your resistance program?


There are many ways to increase exercise intensity in a resistance training program. Typically, people will increase weights, sets and repetition of the exercises to maximise performance.

Implementing tempo is an advanced resistance training method that can be added to change intensity. This is shown by four digits (e.g 4/0/1/0) corresponding to the duration (in seconds) of particular phases of movement (eccentric (lengthening phase), transition, concentric (shortening phase), transition).  

What are the supposed benefits of tempo training?

  • Teaches control of the movement
  • Address potential weaknesses (eg. concentric vs eccentric contraction)
  • Increases time under tension 
  • Increases the work capacity 
  • Provides variety to the program 

Tempo allows us to increase the time under tension during the eccentric phase, which can help to increase performance.

Studies found that a faster tempo (eg. 2/0/2/0) showed a statistical difference with an increase in the maximal number of repetitions compared to slower temp (6/0/2/0). However, the caveat of this slower tempo movement (6/0/2/0) is that while there was shown to be a decrease in the number of repetitions involved, the slower tempo increased the time under tension. This can contribute to greater muscle growth (hypertrophy).

Other studies found that (2/0/2/0) had a significant increase in 1RM testing with bench press compared to (5/0/2/0) or higher. 

What does this mean?

Most injuries occur during the eccentric phase of a muscle contraction. Thus, improving eccentric strength is good. The evidence shows anything greater than 5 seconds doesn’t improve strength or hypertrophy. Therefore, it might be a good idea to add eccentric loading that is below 4 sec duration into a program to elicit an improved eccentric control with the added benefits of maintaining your strength.

Read more….

To learn more about whether you can over train or not check out our blog HERE
To learn more about what is mind to body connection check out our blog HERE
To learn more about compound vs isolation exercises, check out our blog HERE

Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897

Wilk, M., Golas, A., Zmijewski, P., Krzysztofik, M., Filip, A., Coso, J. D., & Tufano, J. J. (2020). The Effects of the Movement Tempo on the One-Repetition Maximum Bench Press Results. Journal of human kinetics, 72, 151–159. https://doi.org/10.2478/hukin-2020-0001

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