Let’s face it; just about everyone wants to add muscle, get stronger, and feel good while doing it. That prospect might sound like wishful thinking, but with an ego check and some thoughtful planning, it really is a very feasible goal. Tempo training is a great bang-for-your-buck method of doing all three at the same time. Simply assigning a controlled pace to foundational strength exercises is beneficial in just about every conceivable way.
Muscle Growth. Mechanical tension, or the force applied to a muscle group by an external load, is the foundational principle behind muscle growth. There is no way around it. Slowing down movement applies force to the muscle group for a longer period of time, multiplying mechanical tension significantly, even with lighter loads. This is more conducive to muscle growth.
Strength and Coordination. Slowing down movement and displaying absolute control throughout every inch of range of motion greatly aids the development of coordination (a.k.a. your technique) and more uniform strength development. Make no mistake, traditional weight training is a great way to build strength, one that we advocate for. That being said, tempo training will help to eliminate sticking points, that is, weak spots in specific portions of a movement’s range of motion.
Injury Management and Prevention. Using lighter loads, improving technical coordination, and targeting specific weaknesses in one’s range of motion is the holy trinity of preventing injuries and managing pre-existing symptoms. Tempo training is arguably the safest yet most effective way to build muscle and strength.
The only downside to tempo training is that it’s difficult and doesn’t allow for the use of heavier loads. That’s okay. There’s a time and a place to lift significantly heavy loads. But it’s not all the time. Commit to some tempo training and you’ll see why.