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Tempo Work in Powerlifting

For assistance work in powerlifting goes and movements or variations that are somewhat close to the comp lifts there’s plenty.

Info on pausing at various points is plentiful and a lot of lifters do them but there’s not as much info on tempo work.

Is this because tempo isn’t as useful or beneficial? Maybe because there’s even more variations of tempo then even pauses that it’s hard to do info on tempo work in general? It’s around quite a bit I’ve seen successful lifters use it but just not that many articles and vids on it.

What’s your guys’ thoughts on tempo work for Powerlifting or each lift individually SBD?

I would say it’s because tempo work is a complete bitch and no one wants to do it lol

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I think it has it’s place but it isn’t necessary.

I have a suspicion that being slow in either portion isn’t something a powerlifter would ever want to do deliberately.

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Tempo training is great and has a place, except I don’t think of it as 3s down 3s pause 3s up, you don’t want to do that for compound movements.

You’d normally do either pauses or slow eccentrics. Both of which can increase time under tension and also help learn positioning.

Unless you’re doing a triphasic setup or really understand how to use them it’s easy to over do them and set your recovery back. Properly implemented they can help accomplish various goals.

I don’t believe true tempo training for the big compound lifts is smart or safe.

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There might be some use in slow eccentrics for squat and bench lifts if you have problems staying tight or have issues with your descent, a slower descent of the deadlift would make it better for hypertrophy too.

Intentionally lifting slow seems to be completely useless, it activates antagonist muscles and you also won’t be producing much force so while it might look like “good technique” the actual motor pattern will be drastically different. A couple years back I used the free program from the RTS site, Mike T was into tempo squats back then for some reason. Those were probably the worst exercise I ever did, they felt terrible and I don’t think I was even squatting half my max but then the next couple times I squatted I was slow as hell, I did them twice and never again. It’s the complete opposite of speed work and I don’t see why you would want to make yourself slower.


I agree with the guys above. It has its place, like if you need to learn to stay tight, or if you cheat and bounce and need to focus on the descent/turn around off chest.

It can be useful to have another, slower gear, especially if you go too fast. To work on timing and coordination or technique. Like tempo training is CNS training. You use it strategically to “Learn” or teach yourself some part of the move. But if you mess with it too much/too long you distort the lift too much and you get worse.

It’s wild how power lifting is in the pre stone age. Every kid who ever played a sport in middle school was trained using these techniques.

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What about moves that power lifters do, that have Special tempos, that aren’t just doing the comp lifts slowly?

Like an RDL or a Good Morning? It’s natural to use a slightly slower eccentric on these just because of the nature of the lift. But you don’t really think about trying to move slower. They just go that way.

Are they good for PL because they have a different tempo than the comp lifts?

This. I had some hip shift in my squat and my physio helped me work out a plan to fix it which included mobility stuff and slow eccentric squat (5 seconds) with a quick pause in the bottom then explode up. So my squat day looked like:

Top set of squats - 5 for that cycle
Back off sets
Tempo squats - used like 50-60%

Ran it for three weeks and while I don’t think it helped my strength it helped me keep my hips from shifting as I knew what it was supposed to feel like when lowering the weight


Generally yes. It’s the increased time under tension plus movement pattern that helps so much.

Increased TUT on the eccentric correlates to increased hypertrophy in the long run which means more muscle motor unit recruitment for more force production which means more strength which means more potential for hypertrophy, which means it’s a never ending cycle of big dick energy.

Vague tangents, for fun only:

Lately I’ve been doing a set of 1 arm cable pushdowns right before a set of Rolling DB Tricep Extensions. I can feel what you’re talking about.

One time I did this Anthony Ditillo routine where you did heavy 2’s, then back off’ed to some lighter 5’s, then back off again to some still lighter 7’s. Using 3 different weights, I could really feel the difference in the speed of the move. After the heavy 2s the 5s moved with speed, like CAT style, without thinking about it. Then the 7s went real steady, with smooth execution and great recruitment, almost like BB style. Again, without thinking about it, it just kinda happened.

Sheiko had a post on his IG page where he was recommending snatch grip RDLs with a slow eccentric for back strength, he had the guy lowering the bar to a block and called it “deadlift from the rib” which probably makes more sense in Russian. Anyway, I seem to get a lot out of snatch grip RDLs so I tried them with the slow eccentric (5 seconds to be exact), it makes it way harder and you really feel it in the lower back, glutes, and traps.


My coach as me doing 4/0/3 Tempo Squats today. Probably for form/control. I have a habit of going too low and pausing inconsistently, so this will probably get me cutting depth appropriately. I’ll probably use a 3 or 4 tempo descent anyway.

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That’s why I switched to gear, I pause all my raw squats :laughing:

Im doing my next meet in wraps. My coach had me doing 8s at 220, and I was goofing around with wraps for the first time - couldnt even bend my knees! That video probably got put on Quarter Squat Gang

Point being I’ll probably pause in wraps

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