There are many different ways to modify your routine. You should aim to change things up every 2-4 weeks to avoid hitting a plateau.
One of the easiest ways to change up your routine is to modify the tempo. Tempo is the rate or speed at which an exercise is performed. I regularly see people rush through reps in an effort to do as many as possible. Most exercises should be performed in a controlled way with technique as the focus. Tempo forces you to keep composure and control the quality of your reps.
• Implementing tempo in your workouts can help you maximize gains.
• Changing tempo allows you add variety by modifying the intensity of your workout.
• Avoid plateauing by tweaking the tempo.
If you’re a beginner, here are some basics you should know.
An individual weight training workout (not including warm-up) can be broken down into three parts: Sets, reps and tempo (which will be explained later).
A set is a number of cycles of reps that are completed as parts of an exercise.
A rep is used to indicate the number of times you perform an exercise.
Let’s say you’re doing bench press. It’s been recommended you do 3 sets of 8 reps. That simply means that you will perform that bench press 8 times for 3 cycles or a total of 24 reps.
You could also do 3 x 8,10,12 which means that for your 1st set, you’d do 8 reps, 10 for the 2nd and 12 for the 3rd.
3. Components of a Rep
Each rep can be further broken down into 3 phases: eccentric contraction (performing the exercise), isometric contraction (holding), concentric contraction (returning to a resting position). These 3 phases make up the tempo of a rep.
In some cases, you may see a 4th number, usually 0, to indicated the pause between reps.
In the case of a bicep curl, the eccentric contraction phase would be when you curl the dumbbell or barbell upward. The isometric contraction phase would be when you held that weight in a curled position. And the concentric contraction would be when you lowered that weight. You then have the option of pausing at the bottom before you move onto the next rep.
4. Tempo Breakdown
Let’s use the example of 4-1-2-0.
The 1st digit represents the speed of the eccentric contraction (work phase) – 4 seconds.
The 2nd digit represents the speed of the isometric contraction (hold phase) – 1 seconds.
The 3rd digit represents the speed of the concentric contraction (release phase) – 2 seconds. If the 3rd number is an X, you should explode through this phase.
The 4th digit represents the speed of the pause between reps – 0 seconds.
Adjustments can be made by changing each digit according to your goals. Lower the speed of your reps to increase muscle tension which results in more size gains.
Finally, the benefits of tempo apply to most weight training exercises. As well, this principle can be applied to maximize gains in your abdominal workouts. The standard sit-up can (and should be) be slowed right down. This will allow you to focus on the quality that is needed to strengthen core muscles.
The Men’s Fitness Exercise Bible by Sean Hyson
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