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How to read tempo

Performance Nutrition

Many of our exercises use tempo prescriptions for better quality of movement, lowered risk of injury, and for a specific emphasis/adaptation. When you see four numbers with an @ at the beginning, this tells you the speed in seconds for each component of the lift, starting with the eccentric (down) movement. If you see an X, this indicates that this portion of the lift needs to be performed explosively or as fast as possible. Even if a movement starts with an upward motion, such as a pull-up, begin counting the rep and reading the tempo prescription with the downward component first.



What does "@32X1" mean?!

The order of the tempo numbers is always Down, Hold, Up, Pause


For example, a back squat with the tempo of 32X1 would look like this:

3 – Moving smoothly, use 3 seconds to squat to full depth

2 – Hold for 2 seconds at the bottom

X – Explode up as quickly as you can

1 – Start the next rep after 1 second



If you see a 0, that means do not pause - for example, a movement at 3030 would mean moving smoothly down for 3 seconds and smoothly up for 3 seconds, with no pause at the bottom and no pause at the top to "rest" or reset.



As mentioned above, even if a movement starts at the bottom, such as a Pull Up, you'd read the numbers in the same order. For example, a Pull Up @20X1 would mean starting from a dead hang, then on the first rep explode up to the top (X), hold for 1 second with chin over the bar (1), lower with control for 2 seconds, and go right into the next rep with 0 seconds hanging from the bar.


Not all movements will have a tempo, depending on their complexity and the goals of the workout. Each workout has been thoughtfully designed for effectiveness as well as providing breaks where free movement is encouraged.

When choosing loads, follow the pointers in each workout and make sure you can complete all of the reps for each while staying in tempo.

Some of you might be thinking does the counting need to be exact? In reality, no. The purpose of the tempo prescription is to emphasise how we want the movement performed. A 4 second eccentric effectively means we want you to perform the lowering phase in a controlled "uncomfortably slow" manner. Overtime you'll learn what specific tempo prescriptions feel like and you'll be able to execute them with more freedom. But initially its great practice to actively count the tempo as you perform it. 

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