Determination of the pace in strength training

The training tempo or the duration of each phase defined in seconds – not a correctly understood term that we will deal with today. What is the training tempo, how to put them into strength training and, above all, how to read them? These are questions that bother some of you and I will try to answer them in this article.

First of all – how is the training tempo record constructed? The full record is determined by 4 signs, which starting from the eccentric phase by isometry at the bottom, concentric up to the isometry at the top, will determine how many seconds each phase of the exercise will last. It can look like – “40X0”. In the article, I will deal with this record and teach you how to read it correctly.

The first digit – It means an eccentric or negative phase. In the squat, it will determine how long we are crouching down, in deadlift as long as we leave the bar on the floor, and in the case of bench pressing how many seconds it will take us to lower the bar from the position of upright elbows until it touches the chest. The digit 0 will mean and we release the barbell down without holding muscle tension.

The second digit – Means pause in isometry at the bottom (or lack thereof), ie how long the bar will be in the lower phase. In the case of a deadlift or extrusion, lying the number 0 will mean that the repetition is performed using the touch and go method, i.e. without the use of a pause, while the number 1 analogically means that we use a 1 second pause at the bottom of the move, where the deadlift will allow us to reset the position a during pressing, it will force a longer time under tension.

The third digit – It means the duration of the concentric or positive phase, where X means that the repetition is performed as soon as possible. Typically, this is how the main buoys are made to recruit as many motor units as possible in the shortest possible time, while for technical exercises such as face pull with rotation or external rotation of the arm with dumbbells a slightly slower pace is written (i.e. for one or two seconds in coaxial phase) to prevent tearing with weight, maintain constant muscle tension for a long time and minimize the risk of injury.

Fourth digit – Means the time spent in the isometry at the top, where for deflecting the arms will mean the full extension of the long arm muscle at the top of the movement, deadlock in the deadline, and in the bench press to determine the break to take a breath and quickly improve position (eg, push chest up and re-take the blades if you lose them during the actual squeezing of the weight). When the arms are bent, a longer pause will be a problem, because the muscle spends more time under tension while the bench press will let us rest a little.

Now we will consider three examples for the purposes of the article. The first of them will be a squat with a barbell, the second one will be a deadlift. For the third example, we will also use a deadlift, but at a slightly different pace and position.

Squat 31X1

Eccentric phase (negative) or going down – 3s

Isometry at the bottom (or pause at the very bottom of the movement) -1s

Concentric (positive) phase – X or as soon as possible

Isometry on top – 1s

The whole recording will mean that we go down for 3 full seconds, we make a 1-second pause at the bottom, we get up from the squat as soon as possible and we have a second upstairs to improve position, that is, to stiffen again and perform the Valsalva maneuver.

Deadlift 01X1

Eccentric phase – lack

Break at the bottom – 1s

Concentric phase – X or as soon as possible

Isometry on top – 1s

The whole record will mean that when we lower the bar we do not keep the muscle tone and allow it to fall down, then we have 1s to improve the position, where the pause automatically eliminates the possibility of rebounding from the floor, we lift as fast as possible and at the end of the movement we keep the barbell up for 1s while maintaining full muscle tone, i.e. fastening the buttocks on top of the movement. Similar pace, or faster lowering of the weight and dynamic lifting it up is usually used in training to improve the power or explosive power.

Deadlift 3010

Eccentric phase – 3s

Break at the bottom – lack

Concentric phase – 2s

Isometry on top – missing

Here the case looks a bit different. The eccentric phase itself is slowed down to 3 seconds, after which you can observe the lack of a pause at the bottom – it will mean that the deadlift itself is done by the touch and go method (which DOES NOT MEANS bounce and go!). 3 seconds lowering the bar will, of course, isolate the possibility of reflecting the loaded bar with impetus from the floor, which will make it difficult for us to do the exercise and minimize the risk of losing muscular tension and will allow maintaining the proper technique of this exercise. Next, the concentric phase is marked as lasting 2 seconds, which means, briefly speaking, we try to raise the bar in a controlled manner, where this technique will be used in figure sports, in which we want to keep constant muscle tension and extend the time under voltage to obtain hypertrophy effect. At the very end we have no pause at the top, so we can go through the next repetition immediately (of course, keeping the muscle tone all the time).


As you can see at a glance, the record of the training pace can leave some doubts and be mistakenly read by the novices, however, after understanding the rules that guide the trainers when writing the pace for each exercise, it turns out that it is not as complicated as it could have been at the beginning. The training pace allows us to set the values ​​for the duration of each phase of each exercise in advance and ensure that each time the series (or the repetitions themselves) are performed at the same pace, and our muscles work under tension for a comparable time. Pace is an extremely useful tool not only to set training parameters but also to modify them – for example, you can train with a constant weight throughout the month, where each week we try to gently extend the eccentric (or negative) phase or pause until we completely master the given weight ( which a few weeks ago caused us some problems) and only then add the burden while returning to the initial pace and in the following weeks continue to work its extension. Another example is training on various loads, wherein one week we focus on technology, slow lowering, weight control and rests, and the other on strict weight. The pace at which we will perform specific exercises will also determine the weight we use, where the time under tension (TUT – Time Under Tension) will be longer, the less we will use to train. Of course, these are not the only applications for the training pace, but only simple examples of how we can use it to vary our training schedule.

Written by Amelia Johnson

Amelia is a writer/editor with an endless passion for bringing a lot of useful and trustworthy information to the community. She founded, a blog dedicated to sharing quality articles related to health, nutrition, fitness, and beauty. As a typical introvert, Amelia is a perfectionist in work. At times of leisure, she reads, listens to music, chats with some close friends and walks with her pet.

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