RTS Coaching: Tempo/Oxidative Lifting

Tempo Lifting

When you’re coming up in the industry, it’s really easy to think you know everything about everything.

Case and point: We all know that if you want to be super awesome at lifting, sports and life, you only need fast-twitch muscle fibers, right?

And in some regards, that makes sense. After all, fast-twitch fibers are great if you want be strong, fast and explosive, something every athlete strives for.

However, that doesn’t mean that slow-twitch fibers, or training methods that focus on slow-twitch fiber development, are useless.

Here’s a short video describing tempo or oxidative lifting, which is a great way to build a bigger slow-twitch muscle fiber.

Now that you’ve watched the video, a few notes on tempo/oxidative lifting:

  • Use big muscle groups and movement patterns. Squats, push-ups, chin-ups and similar exercises are great choices.
  • Make the tempo continuous! I generally prescribe a 303 tempo (3 seconds down, 3 seconds up), with no stopping at the top or bottom of the movement.
  • Feel (and love) the burn. This type of training is unpleasant. If you’re not pushing yourself and getting outside of your comfort zone, chances are you’re not getting what you want to out of it.

Tempo/oxidative lifting is an awesome tool, and one that I use with almost all of my athletes. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

All the best,


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    • While this exercise is not necessarily “High CNS”, I would typically do them at the end of a lifting session, so it would go on a High day

      Hope that makes sense!

  1. Say you’re training a soccer team and you are in a pre-season phase where your training emphasis is most specific to the energy demands of their sport. Is this principle something you could do in conjunction with Olympic or plyometric exercises throughout the week or would you say that that would be pulling an athlete in too many directions physiologically?

    • Lots of layers to this one, but in short, I wouldn’t use this method in the pre-season or in-season periods, unless someone is coming off an injury. Like you said above, too many competing demands on the adaptive system

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