T Nation

Tempo for Wusses?


I have to take a different view than ol Chad (whom I do respect!) on the virtues of using at least a "moderately" slow tempo and that is this: My joints are not "invulnerable" and I would like to be mobile and flexible in my joints when I am 60! Faster and heavier loads HAVE to take a toll over time on the joints. By using a slower tempo and maybe using 10% less weight, my joints are not griping at me and will probably be much more robust in another 30 years. If someone can't set up a "metronome" in their head and still lift hard at the same time, maybe they need some psycological training!


I respect your opinion on the matter given the information you provided. The main point I was trying to make deals with the recent over-obsession with scads of tempo ranges that provide little, if any, benefit to strength training.
Yes, I have clients that are contraindicated to super fast, explosive tempos (at lockout). But for the most part, I recommend strength trainees to lift as fast as the joints allow.


I think Chad makes a good point. There is far to much attention paid to "tempo" which can take away from your total concentration on the set. Before all of the emphasis on tempo arrived on the scene men were getting big and strong. Not that tempo is not a good tool to have in your bag.

I look at tempo the same way I do slow motion training, and many of the other styles of training that have been introduced. They make for good variety. As PtrDR states I too "would like to be mobile and flexible in my joints when I am 60." I think the best thing for joints is a change of exercises, rep scheme or tempo every six to eight weeks.

It was a good article and the point was well taken!


My take on the article was that lifting explosively develops not only strength, but power. And this is most important in the big compound lifts.

For example, i am having trouble getting my squat up, because i'm not explosive. So when i go to a heavier weight, i just don't have the power to get the weight moving fast enough to get my ass out of the hole and past the sticking point.

At least, thats my take on it.



"Faster and heavier loads HAVE to take a toll over time on the joints."

Maybe or maybe not. Heavier seems obvious, but there are people who do not train with joint problems. An argument can also be made that as your loads get heavier your joint strength increases.

Faster. Olympic lifters always lift fast and I have never seen any research indicating that they are worse off than anyone else.

There are certain exercises, no matter at what tempo, that are hard on me. I have eliminated these from my programs.

Just something to think about. :slight_smile:


Thanks for all the good input guys! These points all make sense. For Chad, a question: if I am using a explosive concentric for my reps, am I really compromised if I use a 2-5 second eccentric? For example, I use a "X" or "AS FAST AS POSSIBLE" speed on the raising, but always lower 2-5 seconds, which is darn near automatic in my head and requires no real thought. I see this as the best I can get off all possible worlds.
Oh..Olympic lifters do not LOWER the weights signficantly and that is where most of the potential, culmative damage on the joints occur. So, using explosion "out of the hole" on squats for example...is no problem...using a light speed descent however could be problematic on the joints of the knee.



Yes, your tempo scheme is very good.

I think you might have missed one of the statements I made, I advised trainees to lower under control and lift as fast as possible. I did not recommend trainees to lower as fast as possible. There's no real benefit to that other than building reversal strength for some powerlifting exercises. Stick to the tempo you described and you'll be fine.


Thank you Chad. I appreciate your time!