Manipulate the amount of time your muscles spend under tension to lose fat and get stronger. Time under tension is one of the best tools to help you reach your goals. Altering the time under tension or tempo of your training exercises can help you break through strength plateaus, lose extra fat, and increase vertical jump.
Recent studies reinforce the value of tempo training, and the newest one in the journal of Applied, Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism compared the effect of three different lifting tempos on energy expenditure and excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
The subjects were trained men who were assigned to perform a workout of 3 sets of 5 reps at 70 percent of the 1RM in the bench press using one of the three following lifting cadences:
• 1.5 seconds up and down,
• 4 seconds down and 1 second up, or
• 1 second down and 4 seconds up.
Results showed that the 1.5-second tempo, which took a total of 15 seconds per set, required the least energy and the post-workout energy expenditure (EPOC) was significantly less than with the other two tempos that each took 25 seconds per set. This is not surprising since the participants spent more time under the weight. It highlights the fact that a simple way to burn more energy during and after working out is to mix up tempo.
Greater EPOC means metabolism is elevated to a significant degree after the exercise bout and your body burns more calories during the 24-hour recovery period. EPOC is elevated much more after exercise that uses the anaerobic than the aerobic energy system, indicating that altering training tempo is an easy way to train the anaerobic system for sports that require shorter bursts of activity.
Use tempo variations to gain power and speed as well. Power athletes can alter time under tension to improve performance by including ballistic contractions such as Olympic lifts, squat jumps, or bench throws to bring about more central nervous system adaptations.
Scott, Christopher. The Effect of Time Under Tension and Weight Lifting Cadence on aerobic, Anaerobic, and Recovery Energy expenditures. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2012. 37(2), 252-256.