Many of our exercises use TEMPO training for better quality of movement, lower risk of injury, and increase in strength. When you see four numbers (or an X) with an exercise, this tells you the speed in seconds for each component starting with the eccentric (down) movement. X means as fast as possible in an explosive movement. Even if a movement starts with an upward motion, such as a pull-up, begin counting the repetition with the downward component.
Breaking the code - 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 of the squat
X – Explode up as quickly as you can
1 – Start the next repetition after 1 second
Be sure to count each second fully.
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 reset.
Even if a movement starts at the bottom, such as a pull-up, you would read the numbers in the same order.
For example, a pull-up with the tempo of 20X1 would look like this:
Start from a dead hang
X - On the first repetition, explode up to the top of the pull-up
1 - Hold for 1 second at the top with your chin over the bar
2 - With control, lower to the starting position for 2 seconds
0 - 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.
For more examples see the “What is Tempo” video: