What’s The Cost Of Skipping Tempo Lifts and ISO Days?

Let me ask this question: Are you skipping tempo lifts and ISO days? If the answer is yes, you might be short changing yourself the chance to increase your strength, improve your health and turn the dial on your technique.

Perhaps you’re thinking “these workouts look boring – besides, isn’t the key to fitness performing constantly varied functional movements at HIGH INTENSITY?”.

Well, let’s break that down a bit. We often think of the CrossFit prescription looking like an exhausted sweaty mess laying on the ground after a work out. It’s a common belief that if you don’t hit that state by the end of your work out, you didn’t go hard enough. The reality is that intensity can look and be achieved in many different ways and it’s the application of all those ways over time that allows us to get after the fitness adaptation provided by “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity”.  Tempo lifts and ISO training done well, will require a high degree of intensity via focus, control, effort and patience. Excellent programming provides variance in the types of intensity. That variance is a tool that allows us to push our gains to the next level.

TEMPO FOR TENDONS: Maximizing tendon health is all about SLOW movement and intense EFFORT. Both of these variables need to be present in order to stimulate the protein synthesis within your tendons, building tendon tissue with a balance of STIFFNESS and STRETCH. This is incredibly important to offset all of the ballistic load we place on our tendons during fast, powerful, high repetition WODs. If you struggle with nagging “tendonitis” type pain – tempo should be a part of the roadmap to recovery and getting rid of pain!

SLOW LIFTING SMASHES CEILINGS: Still chasing that next squat or press benchmark? Frustrated with a plateaued lift (or lifts)? Incorporating tempo into your strength work allows for MORE time under tension with LESS stress to the nervous system, this means more volume can be accumulated without overloading the athlete (MORE GAINS!). Tempo work also makes it easy to PLACE STRESS on certain portions of the range of motion of a given exercise, this way we can hammer away at whatever the WEAK LINK in the lift is without fatigue from the rest of the movement getting in the way!

DECREASE SPEED, INCREASE QUALITY: The slower we move, the more body awareness we possess. This makes it easier to learn something new, easier to fix bad habits we’ve accrued, and easier to improve timing flaws in our technique (think weightlifting). So, if you’re constantly making the same mistake (maybe you bend your arms way too early in your snatch) one of the best ways to break this habit is to move slower and dial in that timing!

Next time you’re going to pass up on a WOD that looks boring, or you have no idea what “30X0” means so you’re going to skip out – check yourself before you wreck yourself (or your progress).

Chris Schaalo

Taranis Coach
CFFF — Director of Competitions
CF-L2 // CF-WL // CF-PL // CF-Kids
B.Kin (UBC)