New Blog

21st June 2022

Why Tempo?

Commonly in the crazy world of crossfit the only tempo that seems to matter is how FAST we are able to move. We are dictated by the clock. There are no PB bell rings for the slowest front squat or how well you can perform the lowering phase of a ring row. If you are an athlete that has goals of exercising fast, it is going to be pretty damn important that you show me you can perform these movements incredibly well – SLOW.  

… Here’s why. 

We need a solid foundation of strength in order to maintain the positions necessary to learn how to go fast. There are a few issues with only training at a fast pace… If your muscles, tendons, tissue and nervous system have not been conditioned to apply appropriate amounts of force, you can expect movements and the integrity of these movements to break down over time. You can expect old injuries that have never been fully rehabbed to come to the surface. You can expect a range of motion or strength asymmetries to say hello and start to cause some nagging issues…all if we ONLY try and go fast. Now don’t get me wrong, I like fast, but it has a time and place. 

If going fast is important to you, including structured tempo work as part of your strength program is vital. Thankfully at The Chamber we have been doing this consistently for a good while now, with some great results. Tempo will be written as a four-digit number such as 3212, for a squat this means 3 seconds to descend the weight, 2 second pause at the bottom, 1 second to explode up and 2 second reset at the top before the next rep. 

Tempo, particularly the eccentric or lengthening phase of an exercise helps to: 

  • Increase strength
  • Improve motor control or awareness of the body throughout a movement
  • Remodel tendon and tissue structure
  • Increase anabolic hormonal response to training
  • Improve length/tension relationship of muscles (flexibility)
  • Rehabilitate injuries

Eccentric control is a missing piece with a lot of athletes I have seen. They work hard and a lot, but the movement quality isn’t there. Maintaining control of positions throughout a movement without fatiguing is going to be your gateway to completing the same movement against the clock for reps or time. Earn the right to move fast.

Slow things down to speed things up.

I urge you to take pride in sticking to the prescribed tempo on these days and although adding a tempo makes things horribly difficult, learn to enjoy it…and you might just find those niggles disappear and you might just perform better at moving fast. 

Coach Aidan