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©2020 by Jonathon Reid

  • Jon Reid

Tempo (Resistance Training) Part 2

Updated: Sep 11, 2018

Following on from tempo part 1 this article will explain how tempo is written, for what reason and will explain why I generally don't use the traditional approach.

Tempo Splits a Movement into Four Segments

  1. The lowering phase (eccentric portion of a movement)

  2. The time between the lowering phase ending and the concentric phase starting (a pause or no pause)

  3. The concentric phase (the ‘lift’ part of an exercise)

  4. The time between the concentric phase finishing and the lowering phase starting. i.e how long you wait before starting your next repetition.

Tempo: 3010... Numbers?

Commonly, four numbers are used to provide the number of seconds each phase of the exercise should take, written something like 3010.

This example would require 3 seconds on the lowering part of the lift, 0 seconds pause at the bottom, a 1 second upward part of the lift and 0 seconds before beginning the next repetition.

Counting Seconds Mid-Movement?

For the most part, I don't really believe in counting seconds when you are trying to lift weights. I find it distracting and impractical.

I think it is much more beneficial when performing a movement (for most movements) to think either: controlled, very controlled or explosive.

Pauses can be added simply by stating ‘with a pause at the bottom’ or ‘with a 2 second pause at the top.’

Define these non-numerical and ambiguous terms...


Control the movement without going deliberately quickly or slowly.


Attempt to move the weight as fast as possible.

More Practical

Thinking about controlling a weight or exploding with the weight is a much more practical approach and generally much more applicable to sports performance.

If you are specifically emphasising the eccentric (lowering portion) of an exercise, for example taking 10-30 seconds to lower yourself down during a chin up then perhaps counting, or having a buddy with a stopwatch, can be useful.

However, for the majority of the time, focussing on controlling and/or exploding will keep the focus on your resistance training techniqueand speed of movement much better than attempting to count seconds will do.


Avoid counting seconds in your head and instead think about being controlled and/or explosive. This will lead to more productive lifts and won't distract you from your technique.