From time to time, you must mix up your workouts to break a plateau or simply beat boredom.
You see, both mind and muscle adapts to a familiar training plan in about four weeks.
If you don’t have access to a tactical strength and conditioning coach, to customize a program for you, here’s a proven approach to reboot your own workouts: lift fast on some days and moderate-to-slow-paced on others. This rep-timing technique, called time under tension (TUT), helps you target specific goals, like boosting power, growing muscle, or building endurance, simply by tweaking your repetition tempo.
Also, you’ll quickly learn that certain exercises work best when performed at a particular speed, if for no other reason than avoiding sloppy form or, even worse, injury.
More on that in a minute.
There are four numbers that define the tempo of a movement. So if your program recommends you do a barbell chest press at a tempo of 30X0, here’s what it means.
The first number (3) recommends you take three seconds to lower the weight (“negative” or “eccentric”). The second number (0) is the length of the transition between the lowering and lifting part (no pause at the bottom, when the bar is touching your chest).
The third number (X) is the lifting portion (“positive” or “concentric”). The “X” tells you to raise the weight explosively. Finally, the fourth number (0) means no pause at the top.
Now before you make a snide comment about “having to go out and buy a metronome to do this workout,” please note that exercise generalists will never sway from the idea of “lifting the weight explosively and lowering it under control.”
While I agree with the idea of keeping it simple, focusing on tempo is a sneaky way to control your lifts, thereby avoiding achy joints that go hand-in-hand with sloppy technique. So you’d be remiss to not test this training strategy for at least a month. You’ll benefit from newfound focus and intensity during your workouts.
In the video below, I created three tempo-based workouts for you.
You'll use similar movements performed at different speeds, depending on your goal. Choose one 4-week program or do them in succession (12 weeks total), starting with slow and progressing to fast.
Use these total-body workouts three times per week, on non-consecutive days, like Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Perform the moves like a circuit, that is, one after another without a break, then rest for 60 seconds. This is one set. Do three total sets
Each of these workouts has a slightly different effect on your muscles and their connective tissues. Just like a sommelier specializes in wine and food pairing, I’ve included a short list of exercises to compliment a particular tempo.
To avoid confusion, note that some moves that start with the lifting part (think pullups). Just remember that the first number is always the lowering or eccentric portion of the exercise and the third number is the lifting part (concentric).
Tactical Bodyweight Workouts is based on the teachings of tactical strength and conditioning coach, Joseph Arangio, MS, CSCS.