Tuesday - May 2, 2017



Noticed all the tempo work lately? What's up with that?

It all has to do with something called "time under tension." In other words, the amount of actual time we spend under load. Johnny steps up to the bar and knocks out 5 back squats, consecutively. Mary steps up and does 5 back squats, controlling her descent and pausing at the bottom. Though they were given the same instructions ("perform 5 back squats") do you see how what they actually executed is very different? Mary spent a possible 15-30s EXTRA with the load. This is why we are specific with the tempo sometimes. In addition to giving us more control in how the work is performed tempo can also help you with:

  1. Technique - spending more time in certain positions improve stability
  2. Strength - increased time under tension helps your joints and connective tissue
  3. Mobility - Forced to hang out in positions we need to improve

...just to name a few. 

Now how do we interpret those numbers?

  • The First Number – The first number refers to the lowering (eccentric) phase of the lift.  Using our front squat example, the 3 will represent the amount of time (in seconds) that it should take you to descend to the bottom of the squat.  (The first number always refers to the lowering/eccentric phase, even if the movement begins with the ascending/concentric phase, such as in a pull-up or deadlift.)
  • The Second Number – The second number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the lift.  In our front squat example, the prescribed 0 means that the athlete should reach the bottom position and immediately begin their ascent.  If, however, the prescription was 32X0, the athlete would be expected to pause for 2 seconds at the bottom position.
  • The Third Number – The third number refers to ascending (concentric) phase of the lift – the amount of time it takes you to get to the top of the lift.  Yes, I am aware that X is not a number.  The X signifies that the athlete should EXPLODE the weight up as quickly as possible.  In many cases, this will not be very fast, but it is the intent that counts – try to accelerate the weight as fast as you can.  If the third number is a 2, it should take the athlete 2 seconds to get the lift to the top regardless of whether they are capable of moving it faster.
  • The Fourth Number – The fourth number refers to how long you should pause at the top of the lift.  Take, for example, a weighted pull-up prescription of 20X2, the athlete would be expected to hold his or her chin over the bar for two seconds before beginning to come down.

The last 4 weeks of this cycle will include some gnarly tempos on certain movements. Throwing a tempo at you every once in awhile won't give you the greatest benefit; rather consistent and increased tempo over time (in our case a rather short time period) is what will set you up for the important sh*t like gainz (and you know, being a resilient, bulletproof god in a few decades). 

Stick it out through the next few weeks, and you'll be reaping serious benefits during the next weightlifting and volume cycle.


A. Front squat @4242: 6 reps x 4-5 sets

B1. Close Grip Bench Press @3232: 3/fail x 3-4
B2. Ring Rows @3232: 5 reps x 3-4

C1. DB Lateral Raises: 12-15 reps
C2. DB Bicep Curls: 12-15 reps
C3. Straight Leg Sit-ups: 15-20 reps
x 3


100m Sprint @ 90-95%
(rest 90s-2min)
x 6 or CDO (critical drop-off)