One Of The Things You May Be Doing Wrong In The Gym

Today I am going to let you in on a little secret – one of the reasons why we get such good results with our clients and what makes our programmes different to most programmes you see out there – Time Under Tension and Tempo.

Tempo is one of the most misunderstood parts of an exercise programme. And what makes our programmes different to 9 out of 10 programmes out there is that we define the exact amount of muscular stimulus during each contraction of every repetition. I learned this from Charles Poliquin back in 2009 and I consider it vital to address tempo as a loading parameter in all of our workouts and this is how we do it.

Make it simpler to understand, we measure speed of contraction as the amount of time it takes to complete each phase of a repetition. We use the term tempo to describe the total amount of time it takes to complete an entire repetition. 

If I told person A to complete 10 reps of squats and person B to do the same Person A may complete the 10 reps in 40 seconds while person B may do the squats extremely fast and be finished in 10 seconds – even though they may have lifted the exact same weight this difference in tempo will give these two clients a totally different end result.

On our programmes you may see this tempo for a squat 4112 means you would squat down in four seconds, pause for one second at the bottom, squat back up in one second, and then pause for two seconds with the bar at the top before beginning the next rep.

The first number refers to the eccentric part of the exercise. An eccentric contraction occurs when a muscle lengthens, such as when you lower the resistance during the descent of the squat.

The second number refers to the isometric pause in the stretched position. This pause occurs between the eccentric (lowering) phase and the concentric (lifting) phase of a repetition, such as when you are at the very bottom of the squat.

The third number refers to the concentric contraction. The concentric contraction occurs when a muscle shortens, like when you press the bar up from the chest while doing the bench press.

The fourth number refers to the isometric pause in the shortened position. This type of contraction occurs at the end of the concentric phase, such as when a bench press is locked out at the top.


When you begin to understand tempo and see your results in the gym you will realize you had been missing a very large piece of the jigsaw. The video we have here for you will give you a visual picture of this common mistake and an easy way to fix it to see enhanced muscle growth.

To find out more about training with us in our gym in Churchtown, Dublin 14 please fill out the application form below.

Adrian Harper