This week is the first in a three-part series where I want to talk to you about how I modify my athletes’ training to keep them squatting safely. Unfortunately, the average Crossfitter struggles with the squat due to mobility limitations just about anywhere and everywhere in the body. When that is combined with a desk job and the fact that no one wants to spend any time on mobility work (since it’s boring and not social media worthy), it only worsens the issue.
So what do we do when we have ignored our mobility issues for so long, but want to continue to train?
If you don’t want to feel like you are being left behind during the strength portion of class, while everyone else gets to use their cool barbell, my first choice is to slow things down with the athlete and allow them to continue squatting, but at tempo!
Who should be using tempo training?
The simple answer: Everyone! At least anyone who wants to improve strength, mobility and body control. Those three things are how you bulletproof your body to continue to safely improve performance!
But I can’t lift as much weight with tempo training?
Yeah, that’s the point! Athletes should be more concerned about performing a movement correctly then with how much weight they are using. A slower tempo also recruits higher threshold motor units that trigger useful strength and fiber size adaptations.
How can tempo help me from getting hurt?
Most lifting injuries are not one-time traumatic events, but instead overuse injuries from lifting incorrectly. The tempo forces the athlete to slow down and lift a weight safely and correctly with control. This also eliminates the use of unwanted momentum or compensation in order to try to lift a weight.
Tempo training is also good when recovering from injury to increase blood flow to the injured area, gain strength and focus on getting the muscles to work effectively.
Incorporating tempo or the amount of time you spend on each rep is just as important as programming reps, sets and weight. Lifting weights at a prescribed tempo is equally as challenging because it requires a higher level of motor control; it will also be much safer since you can’t lift as much. Make sure to remember that more doesn’t always equal better. The goal for most athletes is to come in, get a good, safe training session and walk out pain free.