Have you incorporated tempo into your exercise regimen yet? Tempo training can vary depending on the type of exercise you are doing. There are different types of tempo training exercises that you may have heard of. Two of them that we will focus on are weight lifting and running.
Tempo Training for Weight Lifting
You probably don’t notice, but you are using a tempo every time you lift weights. Most likely, you have not established a specific tempo, but you lift, pause, and drop for set amounts of time as you do your repetitions. However, there are certain benefits of developing a more fixed tempo for your training.
How to create a lifting tempo
Tempo-pros label a tempo using a four-number system. So, for example, if you are using a 3010 tempo, this means you lower the weight for three seconds, pause at the bottom for zero seconds, lift the weight for one second, and pause at the top for zero seconds. Sometimes, an X might replace the third number to symbolize an explosive lift (as fast as you can).
Why use a tempo during weight training?
Tempo training in weight lifting can benefit your workout in many ways. First, it forces you to use more controlled movements. This makes you think about what you are doing more, which helps in the long run when improving the quality of your movement and avoiding improper techniques. Along with that, it allows you to identify potential weaknesses in your performance. By focusing on the movements, you can spot where you are making a mistake and then correct it. This tempo technique also avoids injuries in the long run because you are learning more control by slowing down your movements.
Tempo Training for Running
There are some misconceptions about tempo running that diminish its true beneficial nature. Tempo runs are good for training, and including them in your routine can be helpful if you are a runner training for long distances.
What is my tempo pace?
Typically, your tempo run pace is a bit slower than your normal racing pace. One of the points of tempo running is clearing lactate, which is one of the components that makes you feel tired after exercising. During a tempo run, you are clearing just as much lactate as you produce, making this pace comfortable but still difficult for you; whereas a racing pace will make you more tired because of your lactate production. You should be able to run comfortably at your tempo pace for about an hour.
Benefits of tempo running
Tempo runs are a particularly beneficial addition to your training if you are running races that are longer distances, though they can be used in training for shorter distances like 5k as well. Because you are running at the pace where you are producing the same amount of lactate that you are clearing, this helps increase your lactate threshold.
In addition to the physical benefits, tempo running also benefits the mind. Tempo runs are not easy, so they are a way for you to mentally prepare and become used to the pain you feel during a run. Cross country coach Mark Wetmore of University of Colorado at Boulder says, “It’s not a strategy. It’s just a callusing of the mind and body to deal with discomfort.” By conditioning your mind and body to tolerate this distress, you are enabling yourself to accomplish more during races due to your acclimation to that feeling.
Why should I change-up my tempo?
Because it’s FUN and beneficial in order to break through plateaus. Personally, I love to play around with the tempo of my exercise routine to beat boredom, create more intensity and to be able to truly focus on being present during my workout routine.
Try slowing down your body-weight squat (squatting without weights) and feel the difference it makes – it will fatigue your legs faster. Then try the same with your push-ups. You will work-up a sweat quickly as well as create a little bit of soreness (the good kind) the day after your workout. I love incorporating this technique when I am on vacation and have no access to a gym. Thanks to tempo training I can still get in a very effective and efficient workout by doing all body-weight exercises by varying the speed at which I execute them. For those of you who have experienced a BodyPump class before, this is a great example of tempo training! Try something similar at home by lifting weights to the beat of the music.
Have fun, be creative, and always listen to your body. There is a difference between “feeling the burn” and feeling like you’re about to dislocate a hip.
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