Somewhere in your training, you should incorporate and adhere to a strict tempo prescription. Put a focus on the speed at which you move the weight and you can really make some huge gains in strength, control, hypertrophy and overall movement quality.

Tempo is defined by a 4-digit combo of numbers. Above is an example of a great press variation called the 8-0-8-0 Plate Press.

  • The first number, 8, is the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement.
    • Lower the plates for 8 seconds.
  • The second number, 0, represents the mid-point of the lift.
    • Do not pause at the mid-point for any amount of time.
  • The third number, 8, is the concentric (lifting) phase of the movement.
    • It should take 8 seconds to get the plates from the mid-point back to the top of the lift.
  • The fourth number, 0, denotes the top of the lift.
    • Do no pause at the top for any amount of time.

Now you can take that tempo and modify it to whatever makes sense in your training. This is obviously a focus on control and mind-muscle connection. Other cool tempos include:

  • 2-3-1-0 on squats and deadlifts for a pause at the bottom and an explosive finishing of the rep
  • 2-1-2-1 on almost everything for a general amount of control and rhythm
  • 3-3-3-3 on compound multi-joint movements you are teaching or using for the first time

Try these presses out for a great upper body challenge and start to use tempos intelligently in your workouts. It’s not all about adding weight to the bar, changing up the tempo can be just as challenging and potentially more effective!