Nial Ovenden

Tempos and why you should be doing them


There are many reasons you should be exploring the world of lifting tempos but first how to understand them.

Tempos are often seen written as four number for example 3-2-1-0, each number is expressed as a part of the lift in seconds

1.    The first number (3) represents the eccentric (lowering phase of the lift).

2.    The second number (2) is the pause.

3.    The third number (1) reflects the concentric (upward phase of the lift).

4.    The final number (0) therefore stand for any pause at the end of the repetition before the next.

This is all well and good until you come across an exercise where the start of the lift initiates with a concentric (upward phase) such as a pull up or ring row however, if you remember the first number is the eccentric and the third number is always the concentric then you’re set.

But why should you be doing them?

  •  Improved proprioception (awareness to sense your body in its given environment).

  •  Increased stability leading to greater control in lifts.

  •  Increased tendon strength due to stimulated collagen production (Wilson & Best, 2005).

  • And of course, the important one, HYPERTROPHY

Hypertrophy, or growth leads to an increase in muscle size. This occurs due to the increased time under tension of the muscle and because of the increased amount of force that can be produced by the muscle during the eccentric potion of the lift.

(Schoenfeld, 2010)States many studies have found tempo training to yield the greatest hypertrophic response.

So next time you’re doing your ring rows, pull ups, squats or bench press why not give it a go! Do it properly and reap the rewards that tempo training has to offer you.



Wilson, J. J., & Best, T. M. (2005). Common overuse tendon problems: a review and recommendations for treatment. Am Fam Physician72(5), 811-818.

Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24(10), 2857-2872.