Tack, Tick, Tick, Tick – Metronome Interval Strength Training Hack.

Interval Strength Training Hack - Use a Metronome to make it easier to count.
Use a Metronome for Interval Strength Training

I recently began interval strength training as a form of exercise.

For those new to different types of workouts, interval strength training is a form of circuit training. Basically, I perform a group of weight training exercises in sequence with little rest in between. I target different muscle groups, and I perform the circuit of exercises twice with little to no rest between exercises.

At first, Interval Strength Training was really difficult for me to do. Why?

I had to think:

  • What exercise I was doing?
  • How do I do that exercise?
  • What exercise is next?
  • How many repetitions was I on?
  • Where am I in the 4 second cadence?
  • Am I using the correct form?
  • Did I just hear my 2 year old daughter dive into the toilet?
  • Who is going to sign up for next?
  • Will the Cubs win the World Series?
  • Man this exercise is burning pretty good now.
  • Will the …. as you can see too much to think about, my mind starts to wander, and I just get lost.

With interval strength training, you use a cadence to lift weights in a rhythm. While contracting the muscle, I count 2 seconds and then hold 2 seconds, then while releasing the muscle, I count 4 seconds, repeat for 10 repetitions with no rest.

For example, for a bicep curl, I count 2 seconds up, hold 2 seconds, then count 4 seconds slowly releasing the bicep curl back down to the resting position. I immediately lift again using the same cadence until I reach 10 in the set and move on to the next exercise in the circuit with little or no rest (30 seconds or less) in between sets.

As I mentioned before, the problem I had was I got lost in all the counting and thinking.

UP, Two, Three. Four
DOWN, Two, Three, Four
UP, Two, Three, Four
DOWN, Two, Three, Four
What Repetition am I on?

How do I stop all this counting?

I use a metronome to maintain the cadence. A metronome ticks at whatever rate you want. I set my metronome to 60 beats per minute and let it tick off my cadence. Google Metronome, and you’ll find all sorts of web-based metronomes to use.  Of course you could use an iphone app as your metronome of choice. Of course you can use a loud clock or watch, but I find a metronome better especially a digital metronome that allows you to set the beats per measure.

See, you can set a digital metronome to 4 beats per measure. which means:

Tack, Tick, Tick, Tick.
Tack, Tick, Tick, Tick.
2, Tick, Tick, Tick.
Down, Tick, Tick, Tick.
3, Tick, Tick, Tick.
Down, Tick, Tick, Tick.
4, Tick, Tick, Tick.

If you are using the Colorado Experiment workout, described by Tim Ferris, which uses a 5 second cadence, just set the metronome for 5 beats per measure.

Whatever cadence you use, your mind is free to count the number of repetitions while the metronome does the work of keeping your cadence straight.