Try to remember how and when you were introduced to weight training. Maybe it was your initiation session at a gym you joined and you met with someone to go through all the equipment with the promise of learning everything you needed to know.
Maybe your first introduction to weights was in high school for P.E. in a smelly old wrestling room.
Maybe your first date with weights has been more recent with a personal trainer.
No matter when it was the initial instructions probably went something like this:
- Lift slow and controlled
- Lift for 1-2 counts
- Lower in 3-4 counts
Now think about what you’re really doing when you lift weights.
If you’re like me, who knows better and still gets in a hurry, instead of lifting 1-2 counts and lowering for 3-4 counts, it’s more like lift one, lower one, get-this-thing-done-I’ve-got-things-to-do. There, I said it out loud (on a podcast) and wrote it both. We fitness professionals don’t do it perfectly either!
I have to catch myself and remember the value of on-purpose-exercise as opposed to the just cross-this-off-my-list-as-done-exercise. Tempo training is how I make myself tune back into exercise and focus. [Which, by the way, can help you focus in other areas of your day better too. So timing your weight training for mid-day just might have a greater impact on your productivity in the afternoon.]
What I do try to do 80% of the time is have a plan. Before I lift, I am thinking about what my plan is going to be. When I’m training for a specific event this is easy. Most of the time I’m not though. I’m training for life and focus and feeling good so I can be at my best, handle stress better, get more done in less time – all the same things as you – not to mention, look good in my skinniest jeans. (Seriously, I don’t have those kind of thighs, never did, never will.)
I lift more at home than I do at a gym right now. I love going to the gym but time or weather keep me home. I only have so many weights at home so the key for me whose lifted weights for 32 years consistently is how to make my weight training effective with a limited set of weights. It may be the same for you because of an injury, or safety, or just not wanting to invest in more weights you don’t know where to store.
Let’s do address the elephant in the room first. I go on and on about heavy weight training and you may be hearing the teacher in Peanuts specials wah-wah-wah.
Based on years of science and research and personal experience for bone density, for lean muscle gain, and for longevity, there is no substitute for resistance training with weights compared to body weight. If you’re only going to do one and want my advice, use weights. If you won’t do anything unless it’s body weight, then do that. Absolutely do something and we can both agree that that’s better than nothing. This tempo training can be used in any almost any resistance-training situation.
Tempo training is perfect for maintenance. Obviously, had I continued to increase weight I lifted over 32 years that would be crazy right? At some point you do reach maintenance. Even with stacks and stacks of weight available you in a gym you will have a point where you can’t use them with full range of motion, or can’t do it safely, or both.
Enter tempo weight training
Let me explain the first step the quick lift and lower I mentioned first? That’s a tempo that would be written like this:
That is, I lift one count, and I don’t hold at all, I lower one count, and don’t hold at all before repeating the move until I’m done.
Erase that from your mind. It really is not that effective for anything: not for increasing lean muscle, not for burning fat, burning calories, or helping joint integrity.
Now let’s say we change things so you have to pay attention! You might try this:
Lift for two counts, hold for two counts, lower in four counts, and hold at the bottom for two counts.
Now you’re going to have to pay more attention. That weight you were able to lift-lower so quickly is suddenly getting more results.
Let’s go further with this:
Lift for three counts, hold for two counts, lower for six counts, and then hold for two counts.
You are now potentially not liking that weight that was moments ago light.
Try this for yourself. Do one of the simple versions. Lift and lower according to your norm and then try the 3-2-6-2 tempo. Feel the difference? Can you understand how this can make a lighter weight much more challenging without adding risk of injury?
Will you try it?
Let me know if you already use tempo training or if you’re going to do it for the first time. I love hearing from you and would love to know if this is helpful.
Don’t forget, the number one error women make with their exercise is not the exercise, but the lack of right nutrition at the right time! Grab the Flipping 50 protein report to learn more!