By Miles Krol, Founder of Milesfit
A common mistake I see lifters of all levels make is disregarding tempo during their strength training. Tempo is essentially the speed with which you lift and lower the weights. Many lifters pay this no mind, and simply lift and lower the weights as quickly as possible.
This is not ideal for a couple of reasons. First of all: it can be dangerous. If we’re simply trying to lift as fast as possible, we aren’t controlling the movement, nor are we focusing on the specific joint action taking place. Lifting too quickly can lead to bad form and excessive strain on our joints, which is the last thing we want in the gym.
The second reason disregarding tempo is a bad idea is that we miss out on optimizing our strength and muscle gains. Let me explain: the longer a muscle is under tension, the more micro-tears are created, which in turn leads to the body producing more muscle mass to reinforce the joint/musculature. How do we increase tension on the muscles? By slowing down the tempo of the lift! So controlling the tempo of a lift gives you more control over how much mass you will eventually build, by allowing you to control the amount of tension on your muscles.
A very basic way to begin utilizing tempo is to count two seconds on the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement, and one second on the concentric (lifting) part. There are a million ways to play with tempo, but this is a very basic and effective first step. Try this on all your lifts, and you’ll see the difference. You may need to decrease some of the weights you’ve been using, but it will pay off from the increased muscle mass and healthier joints!
Focus on good form, watch your tempo, and happy lifting!