How to Use Tempo to Improve Your Results

people running on treadmillsDid you ever wonder if you should be moving quicker through your lower body exercises as you get stronger? Or how long you should hold a yoga pose when you’re new to it?

Slowing down, speeding up, holding, stopping and starting—these variations in tempo can help you progress your workouts at just the right pace to improve your results.

Check out this list of tempo alterations below to learn what can work for you depending on your goals and experience. And also watch out for no-nos when it comes to changing up your workout timing.

Strength Training

As you gain strength, you can progress your training with a tempo variation which can spur on new muscle growth.

Slowing down: Lower your weight down slower during your reps (more tension)
Speeding up: Explode the movement of the weight back up to the starting position
Stopping & Starting: Pause at the “bottom” or extended position of your rep
Holding: Don’t hold up weights. A brief pause as described above is all you need


If cardio is a main focus of your exercise routine, use tempo to add variety to help avoid plateaus. Prevent injuries by monitoring your pace.

Slowing down: Slow down your tempo and add a hill, new step, or other difficulty
Speeding up: Speed up your tempo to create a sprint pace every few minutes
Stopping & Starting: Be sure to warm up and cool down to ease in and out of cardio
Holding: Hold a steady state cardio pace on your recovery days, or tough training days


Yoga might be restorative, yet it is also a strain on muscles and joints. You can practice a slow pace, but still, you are not relaxing!

Slowing down: Slow down your transitions between positions and focus on form
Speeding up: When you’re ready, move through your poses with vigor and breathe
Stopping & Starting: Energy flow is a key part of yoga, so don’t “stop” even as you hold
Holding: Try holding your standing poses longer—use a block or a wall as a beginner


High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has tempo changes built into it as part of its structure. Understand how this works for you.

Slowing down: You will have intervals where your pace is steady and controlled
Speeding up: You will add a higher intensity movement, or sprint pace, in intervals
Stopping & Starting: You will change movements to speed up and slow down heart rate
Holding: Even static moves can be incorporated into a HIIT routine, like wall squats

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