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Gym Shorts: The Tempo Squat

New to the tempo squat or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

How to Tempo Squat

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps:

  • Set Up
    • Set up just like a normal squat
    • Hands outside shoulders
    • Bar on rear delts
    • Big breath
  • There are different tempo variants (3-0-3, 3-0-1, 3-1-1, 3-1-3, etc.) and the times are rough times for the descent, pause or no pause, and ascent
  • Descent
    • Count to “one-one-thous-and, two-one-thous-and, three-one-thous-and”
    • Hips & knees break at the same time
    • Hips back
    • Knees out
  • Bottom
    • Do not pause for 3-0-3
    • Stay tight for appropriate time if pause is prescribed
  • Ascent
    • Count “one-one-thous-and, two-one-thous-and, three-one-thous-and”
    • Hips straight up
    • Knees still
  • Breathe between reps

More on the Tempo Squat

The tempo squat is a squat supplemental lift that increases stress by increasing time under tension. You will use less weight for a tempo squat than for a normal squat, but the reps take longer as you slow down the descent & likely the ascent.

The tempo squat is great for lifters to tend to have problems with correctly getting themselves into the bottom position. Often times, a coach will tell a lifter to SLOW DOWN, and though the squat they may not be quite a 3-second descent, the slowed descent allows the lifter to really focus on correct descent.

There are different types of tempo squats. Shown in the video is a 3-0-3, meaning that the lifter should take ROUGHLY 3 seconds to descend, not pause in the bottom, and then take 3 seconds to ascend. You can change the time for each. You may only want the lifter to slow the descent: 3-0-1. You may want a slow descent and ascent: 3-0-3. And, if you REALLY want the lifter to slow down, you may even add a pause: 3-1-3 or 3-2-3.

Slowing the ascent helps if lifters tend to struggle maintaining midfoot balance and moving correctly coming up out of the bottom position.

Another reason to add tempo squats may be that the lifter simply lacks sufficient weight in their gym, so if the lifter cannot add weight, you can increase stress by increasing time under tension.

We tend to add tempo squats to intermediate lifters’ programs on a 4-day split, BUT they can be a useful tool for novice lifters who really struggle with proper form. SLOWING THE LIFT DOWN can help the lifter learn how to correctly control their body during the movement. They can then quicken the pace with increased control.

Tempo squats are usually programmed relatively similarly to normal squats, BUT higher rep sets are ROUGH. Holding your breath for about 7 seconds each rep for 8+ reps will often cause oxygen and cardio to become an issue. Also, it’s simply hard to focus for such a long period of time, so the benefits to form from a slowed descent may be lost with higher reps.

Try the tempo squat: a great squat variation that helps improve your form, adds time under tension, and helps increase your squat and get strong!

Click HERE to watch a longer tempo squat tutorial, and HERE to learn about the muscled worked during the squat.

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