What is a Lifting Tempo?

A lifting tempo is something that not all of us may think about, however, within every set and every rep, you are actually using a tempo. To help you understand this concept more, within this article I will be answering the question, what is a lifting tempo?

This answer will include an explanation, benefits within your training and how it can be implemented. With that, let’s learn what a lifting tempo is!


What a Lifting Tempo is:

A lifting tempo refers to the speed you go through a movement at, it is broken down into 4 different sections. This is the eccentric, bottom position, concentric, and top position. All have a different place within a tempo, an example is a 2:0:2:1. This would be a 2-second eccentric, no pause, 2 second concentric and a one-second pause at the top.

For example, if your training for hypertrophy, you may want to use a 2:0:1:1 tempo. This will allow you to control the movement and feel the muscle working on the eccentric, not waste energy at the bottom portion, be efficient on the concentric and allow for a squeeze and a reset at the top portion of the lift. This is just an example, keep in mind, for general lifting purposes, something like a 1:0:1:0 or a 2:0:2:0 are great options.


Benefits of Lifting Tempos:

Although you are always using some sort of lifting tempo, manipulating this tempo is one tool you have to tailor your training towards your specific goals. This is what I would say the biggest benefit of a lifting tempo is, the ability to tailor them specifically to your needs.

This could look like using a slow eccentric to work on technique, paused reps to work on coming out of the hole, or an X for the concentric to focus on power.

Another benefit of lifting tempos is they allow for variety in your training. Whether it be overall variation, or using them as a form of progressive overload. I wouldn’t suggest using this as a main form of progressive overload, however, it is a tool in your toolbox.

For example, you could implement speed reps one week for some overall variation in your training. Or for progressive overload, instead of increasing the weight or reps from one week to another, consider performing a slow eccentric and really feel the muscle working. I am currently doing this in my own program every second week.

Implementing Slow Lifting Tempos:

While in most cases I would suggest a general lifting tempo of say a 1:0:1:0, there can be times when you should think about using a more specific tempo relative to your goals. This can be a great way to train more specifically towards your goals.

In order to do this, it starts with knowing your goal, implementing the basics, then thinking about how a lifting tempo can be beneficial to that goal of yours. Below is a list of different goals with an example of what could be a beneficial lifting tempo for them:

  1. Strength – 1:0:1:2 (Allows for an efficient use of strength with time to take a breath and reset at the top of the movement)
  2. Hypertrophy – 3:0:1:0 (Helps you focus on working the muscle and is great for inducing muscular stress, allows you to go through the range of motion fluently)
  3. Power – 2:0:X:2 (Allows you to control the movement on the eccentric, and quickly reverse the weight which helps teach you to use your strength quickly, also beneficial to reset for a clean next rep)

Concluding Remarks:

After reading this article you have learned what a lifting tempo is, their benefits and how you can implement them within your training.

I thank you for taking the time to read this article and look forward to you being able to benefit from it. As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them in the comment section below and I will be sure to reply!


Until Next Time,


Kohl Johnson

Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

2 Responses

  1. Hi there, thank you for this article. Like you said adjusting lifting tempo is a great addition to your workout kit so I’ll be sure to remember this so I can add some variation to my workout routines. You mentioned an X in the lifting tempo: 2:0:X:2 when lifting for power. What exactly does the X mean here? Thanks.

    • Hi Tamika, no problem! The X is a variable that basically means you are performing that part of the lift (typically concentric which is what it was in this case) as fast as possible, while still in control of course.

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