Controlling Rep Speed for Better Results

Controlling Rep Speed for Better Results

Zach Greenwald of joins us again, this time to discuss why we need better tempo control during weightlifting for both strength gains and injury prevention. So often, those of us in the CrossFit and Olympic Lifting worlds perform slow concentric lifts with rapid, uncontrolled lowering. This imbalance makes it difficult for coaches to really evaluate your technique and can add unnecessary stress to your body.

Recent research on powerlifters confirms that better tempo control may be better. Higher-skilled powerlifters descended into their squat slower than lesser-skilled lifters.

According to this research, high-skilled powerlifters have slower eccentric action in their squats than do less-skilled powerlifters, AND the high-skilled lifters accelerate faster out of the bottom.


Check out this week’s video with Zach Greenwald and listen to him discuss this more on the Barbell Shrugged Podcast.



Video Transcript:

From a performance standpoint you may often have seen a certain tempo. There are four distinct numbers across the whiteboard that say how you should be moving on the up and the down. You have seen basically a five count going down or a three count or whatever number going down, maybe even a pause and standing quickly, but if we peel back the tempo and just apply a simple idea that you should stand faster than you go down to avoid any sudden straining or spraining or movement that you can’t predict.

What you’re going to see Zach perform is a squat and he will show you how this shouldn’t look with a quick down and a grind up. There’s one thing entirely to catch the recoil of the bottom which helps you very much, but long term crash and grind probably means that your either loading the bar too heavily or you just might not know how you can be moving a little bit better. The only thing I would cue Zach in there is to control the descent a little bit more and stand faster. If he couldn’t then we might just come down and wait a little bit, but if we could then we’ve already made him safe on the spot.

What we’re going to demonstrate next is what the tempo or pacing of this whole exercise should look and how we can maximize safety and keep Zach moving well over time. It’s also helpful from a coach’s standpoint to actually see what’s going on and for the athlete to feel what’s going on. Instead of crashing down quickly and grinding, I’ll just say stand faster in the down and have control going down. There’s one thing to have the five second eccentric deliberately or three second or whatever your coach has written, but when there’s no tempo, just know that the overall way you can apply your squat safely is standing up faster than the down.

In a dead lift, let’s just say you have the weight and you’re picking it up quickly in a touch and go reps and it’s a grind, and you bounce it off and grind, there’s a high level of unpredictability that can happen there as you change directions from down to up or in a squat going up to down.