Tempo training is a simple, straightforward way to completely refresh your workout routine — something you might be craving as we move into the tenth (100th?) week of sheltering in place, seemingly lightyears away from our usual gym routines.

“The thing with tempo training is you can take a movement that a lot of us can do many reps for and it becomes difficult really fast,” says Hollywood trainer Don Saladino. Take any exercise — let’s say, a bench press — and apply tempo training to make it more challenging.

That is, slow it down. You’re looking for longer time under tension here.

“When you see someone doing a bench press in the gym, it probably takes them three seconds,” Saladino offers. With tempo training, double that time, taking three seconds to lower and three seconds to raise for a total of six seconds. “Think about that. Now if you’re doing eight repetitions, you just went from doing that in 24 seconds to 48 seconds. That completely changed your time under tension.”

Again, this can be applied to just about every move out there: Take three seconds for the eccentric movement and another three for the concentric.

Tempo training is an impactful way to increase tension without any load. It’s perfect for those of us, bereft of all the equipment the gym has to offer, who are ready to uplevel an at-home workout. It’s handy especially if you’re only doing body-weight workouts.

Saladino, trainer extraordinaire for Hollywood A-listers like Emily Blunt, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Krasinski, Sebastian Stan, and David Harbour, shared this full-body tempo training program on his social media channels to help followers bolster home workouts.

“Dynamically while you’re moving, things get really tough. They get really, really difficult,” Saladino says.

Try out the efficient program below. You might be surprised by how moves that have long felt like second nature to you suddenly ramp up in difficulty. Follow Saladino’s cues for the amount of time you should spend raising and lowering for each move.

Don Saladino’s Time Under Tension Bodyweight Workout 3-4 rounds
Exercise Reps
Split Squat* 8
Close Grip Push-up* 8
Handcuffs** 8
Side Plank with Leg Raise* 5

* 3 seconds down, 3 seconds up

** 3 second contraction


Bearded man working out his biceps and forearms with a preacher curl exercise

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