How to use rep speed and temp to progress your lifts?

How Tempo Training Can Progress Your Lifts

Why Rep Speed & Tempo Matter

Tempo training is a great way to build strength and stamina, improve your explosiveness, and gain greater control of your movements. Weight and volume definitely aren’t the only things that matter when it comes to progressing in our lifts. We also have to consider rep speed and tempo, and use those to our advantage when applicable.

Ever seen a gym newbie squat a barbell at kamikaze speed, hit the bottom hard, and then rely solely on the bounce to claw their way back to the top?

Now compare that to someone lifting with intention and control, focusing on squeezing the legs and butt, and really bracing under that bar.

If aesthetics is the goal, we want to squeeze, control, and isolate the muscles we’re using as much as possible. This is why we love using tempo work here at Paragon Training Methods to create strength from varying positions of movement.

We know it can feel especially hard and counterintuitive to slow down during lifts, especially if we’re coming from high-intensity backgrounds where the goal was “GO GO GO” and “as many reps as possible” or “as fast as possible” – but we promise tempo work is super important and productive.

Having a controlled pause during movements and skills forces us to learn what muscles should be activated and firing to create momentum. This will inevitably also lead to stronger lifts without a pause (hello aesthetics and performance)!

How To Read Tempo

There are four digits to understand:

32X1 Backsquat =

3: 3-second descent down
2: 2-second pause at the bottom
X: Explode up as fast as possible
1: 1-second pause at the top

21X1 Ring Dip =

2: 2-second descent down
1: 1-second pause at the bottom
X: Explode up
1: 1-second pause at the top

For movements like pull-ups or bent-over rows, the tempo applies after the pulling/lifting has been completed.

For example, 21X1 pull-up = once chin is over the bar, 2-second lower to bottom, 1-second pause at the bottom, explode up and get chin over the bar, 1-second pause at the top.

Benefits Of Using A Tempo Training

For the bulk of Paragon work, we encourage a 21X1 or 20X0 tempo as much as possible. Especially for hypertrophy work, this stuff is golden and we recommend you always control the descent of the body and bar.

Not only will tempo training lead to stronger longer lifts, but it will also reduce the risk of injury while lifting, help you build more muscle, and tremendously improve body composition and aesthetics.

We love using tempo training, pauses, and specific speed instructions within all our Paragon Training Methods programs. As a wonderful bi-product, controlled time under tension tempo work also typically leads to stronger lifts without tempo.

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