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Why You Can't Lose Those Last Few Pounds

Not seeing changes in your body despite working out and eating well? The speed of your workout could be the reason.


Christopher Campbell


4-2-2-1 Eccentric, hold at the stretch, concentric (contract), hold.


It is popular for coaches to set tempo numbers with an exercise program. However, if you understand what these numbers are and how they work, you can play with these numbers yourself to challenge your own workouts. Tempo numbers represent the time spent in each part of one exercise repetition. In the four number set, the first number represents the eccentric muscle stretch, the second number the hold at the stretch, the third number the concentric muscle contraction, and the fourth number a hold at the starting position. So, if the tempo is set at 4-2-2-1 in a push up, for example, the body is lowered to the ground for 4 seconds, held at the bottom for 2 seconds, pushed up for 2 seconds and held in the starting position for 1 second.


Changing up these numbers will challenge your workout because muscles will have varied time under tension. Increasing or decreasing muscle time under tension will work different groups of muscle fibers. Our bodies have fast twitch muscle fibers (Type II A and Type IIB where A can be moderate to fast) and slow twitch muscle fibers (Type I). To work fast twitch fibers, increase your speed. To work the slow twitch fibers, increase the time under tension.


So, for someone doing squats who wants to work their hamstring, the tempo can be changed to 4-2-1-2, for example, where the eccentric number in the tempo is held longer for a slower squat. Similarly, to stretch of the glutes at the bottom, hold the second number longer, for example 2-4-2-2. To work on speed, or fast muscle fibers, lower your 3rd number to 1 or 0 (jumping).


Changing up tempo numbers is especially important for more seasoned athletes because it becomes increasingly difficult for them to challenge their bodies in order to reach their fitness goals. For those of you just looking to stay healthy and  fit, these concepts can be useful too. By adding variety to your movements, you can surprise your muscles and challenge your workout.


Push up-make harder-change numbers will allow you challenge muscles they are not used to.


If someone gave you the same exercise but give you 1-1-1-0 it would be plyometric push up (clapping) because spending no time at the top and coming right back down.


At a squat to work hamstring, 1st num will be slower. To have good stretch at bottom hold 2nd num longer. Work on fast muscle fibers and squat faster you 3rd number would be 1ld be one


For 4th num would be zero because you’re jumping.


Why time under tension is important:


Muscle fibers breakdown:

1. Fast twitch muscle fibers are Type II A and Type IIB where A can be moderate-fast
2. Slow twitch is Type I muscle fiber


When you change the tempo of an exercise you can change the time under tension where you’re increasing seconds in certain parts where you emphasize a Type I muscle fiber in an exercise. Same where if you increase the speed of a concentric you can increase the speed of a fast twitch muscle fiber.


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