Speed of Movement & the Mighty Metronome

Tempo refers to the speed of movement and is usually represented by a

4-digit number: eccentric (negative) contraction – isometric (pause

between negative and positive) contraction – concentric (positive)

contraction – isometric (pause between positive and negative)

contraction. For example, a tempo of 3-1-2-0 means to lower the weight

for a count of 3, pause for a count of 1, raise the weight for a count of 2, and do not pause before starting the next repetition. An “X” designation denotes eXplosive, meaning to lift the weight as fast as possible.

It’s not uncommon for people to race through their sets in order to get

done sooner. Although this could benefit power development,

hypertrophy might be sacrificed. For instance, if two individuals were to

perform the same number of repetitions, but one completes the set in 6

seconds and the other takes 60 seconds, is the training effect the same?

Obviously not! Tempo is a training parameter that is quite often

neglected. You can calculate total time under tension (TUT) of a set

simply by multiplying tempo (add all 4 digits) and the number of

repetitions performed.

The problem with tempo prescription is that cadence tends to vary

among individuals and also between reps and sets. (Generally, the

count speeds up as you fatigue!) For this reason, I recommend that you

purchase a metronome – the Robic SC-700 Sports Chronometer

available at Creative Health Products is a good choice. Set the watch to

60 beats per minute so that it beeps every second and try to keep the

cadence uniform throughout the entire range of motion.