Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tempo Training For Better Fitness

If you are looking for another way to improve your fitness, you visited on the right day! Tempo training is most often referred to as a tempo run, but you can apply it to any type of cardiovascular exercise. Tempo training is great when you only have 20 or 30 minutes for a workout, and you want to get the most out of that time.

In order to complete a tempo training session, you should be running (or whatever your sport) at a pace that is pretty strenuous and doesn’t allow you to carry on much of a conversation. You should be able to speak, but not in complete sentences. Although you should be working hard, this is not “race speed” or the fastest you can possibly run. When you finish, you should feel some relief, be proud, and feel that you got a great workout. You should not be passing out, vomiting, or feeling like you won’t get off the couch for the remainder of the day. I hope that description helps to shed some light on the proper intensity at which this workout should be completed.

So how does this tempo training work? Well, you should be working at an intensity that forces your body to breakdown nutrients for energy anaerobically, or without oxygen. When this is happening, the byproduct of this particular energy pathway is called lactic acid or lactate. Everyone has a threshold at which they can no longer process energy aerobically, so they must move to this other anaerobic pathway (anaerobic glycolysis for those of you who want the exact terms!). This threshold is called the anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold. So, theoretically, when you are tempo training your body should be working at its lactate threshold.

The results of training in this manner are a higher lactate threshold and better running economy. In simple terms, you can run faster and more efficiently. This type of training can be done about once each week.



  1. Thanks for this definition! I'll definitely start working on this. So, it sounds like you just get out there and run as hard as you can (without overdoing it) for 20-30 minutes?

  2. What are the benefits/differences of this training modality versus interval training?

  3. Statmom: You're welcome and good luck. Yes, that is pretty much the idea. The more you do it, the more you "get" it. It is somewhat difficult to explain!

    Busy-Dad-E: Good question! I'll use running as a mode to explain this. Tempo training more specifically helps you to tolerate a higher speed while you're running. Interval training results in the ability to run for longer periods of time. However, they both have some cross-over in their fitness/athletic benefits. Those are just the MAIN benefits from each. Repetition training has a very similar benefit to the tempo training. As far as health benefits, all three types of training similar outcomes (high calorie burn, decrease in visceral fat, improved cardiac function).

  4. Working on that visceral fat...