Deadlifts are a staple exercise in any strength training routine. They are a compound lift that works multiple muscle groups in the body, including the posterior chain (back, glutes, and hamstrings), as well as the core and grip. Deadlifts are known for their ability to build strength and muscle mass, and are often used as a measure of overall strength in powerlifting competitions.
However, simply performing deadlifts with heavy weights and low reps is not the only way to benefit from this exercise. Tempo deadlifts, also known as “controlled deadlifts,” are a variation that involves controlling the speed at which you lift and lower the weight. This can provide a number of benefits for both beginners and advanced lifters.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of tempo deadlifts, how to perform them properly, and provide some tips and variations to help you incorporate them into your training routine.
What are Tempo Deadlifts?
Tempo deadlifts involve controlling the speed at which you lift and lower the weight during the exercise. This is typically done by using a specific cadence, or “tempo,” that consists of four numbers separated by dashes. The first number represents the time it takes to lower the weight (eccentric phase), the second number represents the time spent at the bottom of the lift (the pause), the third number represents the time it takes to lift the weight (concentric phase), and the fourth number represents the time spent at the top of the lift (the pause).
For example, a common tempo for tempo deadlifts is 4-0-1-0, which means it takes 4 seconds to lower the weight, no pause at the bottom, 1 second to lift the weight, and no pause at the top.
Benefits of Tempo Deadlifts
There are several benefits to incorporating tempo deadlifts into your training routine.
- Improved Control and Form
One of the main benefits of tempo deadlifts is that they can help improve control and form. By controlling the speed at which you lift and lower the weight, you’re able to focus on maintaining proper form and technique throughout the entire movement. This can be especially beneficial for beginners who may not yet have the necessary strength and control to perform traditional deadlifts with good form.
Greater Muscle Activation
Tempo deadlifts can also help to activate and strengthen specific muscle groups. For example, by taking longer to lower the weight, you’re able to increase the time under tension for the muscles in your posterior chain, which can lead to greater muscle activation and growth.
Improved Time Under Tension
In addition to activating specific muscle groups, tempo deadlifts can also help to increase time under tension overall. By taking longer to perform each repetition, you’re able to increase the amount of time your muscles are under strain, which can lead to increased muscle growth and strength.
Enhanced Mental Focus
Tempo deadlifts can also help to improve mental focus and concentration. By focusing on the specific tempo and maintaining proper form, you’re able to fully engage your mind and body in the exercise, leading to a more effective workout overall.
How to Perform Tempo Deadlifts
To perform tempo deadlifts, you’ll need a barbell and weights. You may also want to use lifting straps or chalk to help improve your grip on the bar.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your toes pointed slightly outward. Place your hands on the barbell, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with an overhand grip.
- Take a deep breath and engage your core, then lift your chest and push your hips back as you begin to lower the weight. Keep your shoulders blades pulled down and back and your back straight throughout the movement.
- As you lower the weight, focus on maintaining a slow and controlled tempo, following the specific cadence that you’ve chosen. For example, if you’re using a 4-0-1-0 tempo, it should take you 4 seconds to lower the weight.
- Once you reach the bottom of the lift, pause for the designated amount of time (if any). In the case of a 4-0-1-0 tempo, there is no pause at the bottom.
- From the bottom position, push through your heels and engage your posterior chain as you lift the weight back up to the starting position. Again, focus on maintaining a slow and controlled tempo, following the specific cadence. In the case of a 4-0-1-0 tempo, it should take you 1 second to lift the weight.
- Once you reach the top of the lift, pause for the designated amount of time (if any). In the case of a 4-0-1-0 tempo, there is no pause at the top.
- Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position, following the same tempo as before. This completes one repetition.
- Repeat the process for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form and a slow and controlled tempo throughout the exercise.
Tips and Variations
Here are a few tips and variations to help you get the most out of your tempo deadlifts:
- Start with a moderate weight and focus on maintaining good form. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can gradually increase the weight as long as your form remains good.
- Experiment with different tempos to find what works best for you. Some common tempos for tempo deadlifts include 4-0-1-0, 3-0-2-0, and 2-0-3-0.
- Try using different pauses at the top and bottom of the lift. For example, you could try a 4-2-1-2 tempo, which would involve a 2-second pause at the bottom and a 2-second pause at the top. This can help to increase the time under tension and challenge your muscles in a different way.
- Incorporate different grip positions to target different muscle groups. For example, using a narrow grip with your hands close together can help to target the upper back and lats, while using a wide grip can help to target the lower back and glutes.
- Use tempo deadlifts as a finisher at the end of your workout to help improve muscle endurance and increase time under tension.
Tempo deadlifts are a great way to add variety to your strength training routine and improve your form, muscle activation, and mental focus. By controlling the speed at which you lift and lower the weight, you can challenge your muscles in a different way and get a more effective workout overall. Give tempo deadlifts a try and see how they can help you take your strength training to the next level.