Sometimes it pays to slow things down and keep them simple. That’s certainly the lifting life advice we’ve gleaned from an expert personal trainer from the workout app WeFLOW, touting the benefits of tempo training to build muscle.
Tempo training is the art of keeping your muscles under tension during an exercise, forcing your muscles to work harder for longer. As a consequence, they have to grow back bigger and stronger to handle the increased workload.
It’s a practice Stef Williams, founder of workout app WeGLOW, has perfected with this simple but eminently effective lower-body drill. All you need is a barbell, squat rack, low step and a handful of minutes to follow her lead.
"This is one of the most popular workouts on the WeGLOW app because all you really need is a barbell," says Williams. "And you can easily adjust the weight up and down between sets."
The workout unites three lower-body lifts that will challenge your balance, coordination, mobility and muscle in equal measure. Ready to get cracking? First, check out Williams' Instagram reel below for a demonstration of each exercise.
Watch Stef Williams' three-move lower-body workout
A photo posted by on
Williams recommends working at a range of around 10-12 reps for each exercise, using a moderate weight. If able and willing to lift heavier, she suggests aiming for 8-10 reps.
First up is a superset combining a barbell pause sumo squat with a barbell deficit reverse lunge (the latter using a low step to create the deficit). Once you’ve completed three sets of each, it’s onto a barbell good morning for another three sets to work the hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
To make the most of this three-move workout, Williams urges you to pay attention to two things: moving with a slow and controlled tempo and focusing on the mind-muscle connection with each and every rep to ensure all your muscle fibers are firing.
To achieve this, executing flawless form will be crucial. "Get your form down first because there's nothing worse than loading up the weight and breaking down your form,” says Williams. “You just won’t get the most out of each exercise.”
Before you think about adding weight, she recommends drilling each move with an empty barbell. "If you're feeling a little bit uncomfortable, take the weights off, really slow the movement down, focus on your form and connect your mind with the muscles you’re trying to utilize," Williams says.
Last but not least, make sure you hit the right rep range for your goal. The last few reps of each exercise should feel very challenging. If your goal is 10-12 reps and you’re hitting a dozen without breaking sweat, it’s time to add a bit more weight to the bar.
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Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.