Building strength under lockdown.

Currently we are faced with a shift in our training, where we have moved from fully equipped gyms to having to make use of the what we have at home to complete our workouts. Fortunately, our wonderful coaches have been providing our members with minimal equipment-based movements and creative substitutes for weights.

Additionally, many of our members have taken home some equipment and weights from our gym to ensure they don’t lose progress during the lockdown. But many of you may be fearing that you are losing strength with limited or even no equipment available to increase your weight load. Don’t worry, we have some tips for you on how to build strength without increasing your weight load.

Ultimately, this comes down to Tempo Training, but what exactly is Tempo Training? Also known as Time under tension, this type of training focuses on slowing down rep speed in a stable, controlled manner. By slowing down your reps your muscles work together for longer while remaining under high tension for longer. Additionally, you will challenge your stability and core to overall improve your strength and performance in any workout, at any level. Essentially by playing around with the tempo at which you are performing your movements you will increase your strength. From Olympic athletes to everyday CrossFitters have increasingly been incorporating tempo training into their routines to become stronger, faster and more powerful. The main exercises to focus on when building strength through altered tempo are squats, deadlifts and bench-presses but are not limited to these exercises. So how do you do this?

1. Longer eccentric phase

The eccentric or negative phase refers to the lowering phase of a movement, when your muscles are lengthening. The idea here is to add an extra couple of seconds in to your lowering phase and then accelerating on the upward phase. For example, take five seconds lowering into your squat position and then firing up into standing position in one second. As you become more stable and familiar with the tempo you can start increasing your lowering time, with the focus being on an extremely slow but controlled decent.

2. Static hold

At the end of your slow, controlled decent add a pause at the bottom of your squat (or whichever movement you are performing). Then focus on exploding out of the position rather than depending on the ‘bounce’ to get you up.

3. Add pauses in your eccentric phase

As you get more advanced with tempo training you can add pauses during the eccentric phase. Here you can add two or three second pauses during your decent. You can do one pause in the middle of the decent or a pause during the first upper quartile, middle and lower quartile before reaching the bottom of your movement. Again, the idea here is to keep a slow, controlled decent with controlled pauses.

The are several benefits to tempo training. One of the most obvious during our current lockdown is that you can easily incorporate it into your training without needing a lot of equipment or heavy weights. Also, becoming more familiar with each phase of a movement allows you to be better prepared at dealing with this phase when you do increase your weight load. Tempo training will also help you overcome your ‘sticking’ point or weak point of a movement. This will also help you identify your weak points, poor form and unstable muscles. Spending more time in these various phases will also strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments before placing them under stress from heavy loads. Ultimately, using tempo training will not only facilitate increased strength but reduce your risk of injury when performing high volume weight training. We at CrossFit Uhuru look forward to seeing how this type of training has benefited you once we are back at the box. If you do have any questions about the best way to incorporate tempo training into your CrossFit workout you can speak to any of our highly qualified coaches who will happily assist you.

Yours in Fitness

CrossFit Uhuru

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