Improved Quality of Movement
Quality of movement should be your first priority. Intensity comes only after one can consistently demonstrate the proper mechanics of a movement. Proper tempo prescriptions can help athletes develop awareness and body control by giving them an opportunity to “feel” which muscle groups are activating to keep them in proper positions.
We work with a lot of kids, and kids tend to be fearless. They think nothing of plunging into the bottom of a squat, secure in their belief that their young, elastic connective tissue will catch and help propel them back to the top. The problem is, as they descend their knees often collapse inward, their chest sinks in and their pelvis rolls into a posterior tilt (the dreaded “butt wink”). By requiring a 53X1 tempo, for example, we can help them learn how to keep their chest up, knees out and lumbar spine neutral by allowing them the time to “feel” those positions throughout the four phases of the lift. If the student is unable to control the descent and perform the movement at the prescribed tempo, we know the load is too great.
In more experienced athletes tempo can be used to emphasize problem areas and shore up weak links in technique. For example, if you struggle in the bottom position of an overhead squat, a prescription forcing you to spend some time in that position will help solidify your technique, create more comfort in that weak position, and permit greater improvements down the line.