The One Thing You’re Doing Wrong At The Gym

The One Thing You’re Doing Wrong At The Gym

You’ve probably heard that when performing an exercise at the gym you should use “slow and controlled movements”. But what does this mean?

As a gym newbie (and a personal trainer in training), I was surprised to see so many people working out with rapid, fast movements, as this goes against most of what we have been taught in class, bar a few exceptions. It can be tempting to go fast, the faster you are, the more reps you can do and the burn is definitely lessened. You can also smash out more sets, reps and exercises if you’re short on time. This is when it’s important to remember, quality over quantity. The gym can be about feeding your ego, and due to this, many people become more concerned with racking up weight on the bar than actually focusing on how they are lifting. Slowing down, and instead focusing on the time it takes to lift the weight, as opposed to utilising momentum to lift heavy weights, is something many people don’t take the (literal) time to do.

You’ll have heard people say “up your weights every week if you want to grow”. This is a form of progressive overload. Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training. So this can be increasing the amount of weight you lift each week, or it can be lowering rest periods, or it can be changing your weight lifting tempo. It’s encouraged to change your tempo every 4-8 weeks, just as you would change your load.

So you might be wondering what is tempo training? Put simply, it’s the tempo, in seconds, which you lift and lower your weight. There are four numbers that make up the tempo of an exercise. For example, my tempo for leg day looks like this: 4-1-2-0

  • The first number (4) is the eccentric, or lowering, component of the lift.

  • The second number (1) is the pause at the midpoint.

  • The third number (2) is the concentric, or lifting, component.

  • The fourth number (0) is the pause at the end.

Each number is counted in seconds and does not necessarily go in the order 4-1-2-0. It’s important to remember that these numbers are the count for that particular movement. For example, if you are performing a deadlift, you would do so in this order:

  • Lift the bar to the count of (2) in the concentric phase.

  • Pause at the top of the movement for (1) second. This is the midpoint.

  • Lower the bar to the count of (4) in the eccentric phase.

  • Pause for (0) seconds at the end of the movement.

Whereas, if you start an exercise in the eccentric (lowering) phase like a racked chest press or squat, then you follow the correct tempo as prescribed above as 4-1-2-0

  • Lower the bar to the count of (4) in the eccentric phase.
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement for (1) second. This is the midpoint.

  • Lift the bar to the count of (2) in the concentric phase.

  • Pause for (0) seconds at the end of the movement.

So why should you include tempo training in your workouts? T-Nation gives some great reasons with just a few being:

  • Improved body awareness.

  • Improved control of lifts.

  • Development of connective tissue strength.

  • Improved stability.

  • Focus on muscular elements versus tendinous elements (a slow, controlled motion is going to place more stress on the muscles, whereas a bouncy or ballistic motion will place more stress on the tendons, etc.).

Maybe instead of “do you even lift bro”? It should be, “do you even tempo bro?” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though!

Love Maddy x