Below is a simple reference guide to learn how to use the buttons on the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro.
You can get the manual here for the complete and official instructions from Finis.
It has three buttons. One on top and two on the bottom.
TURN ON – press the lower right button for about 1 second.
TURN OFF – press both the bottom buttons together for about 1 second.
INCREASE TEMPO (faster) – press the lower left button. Tempo will increase by +0.01 second per click.
DECREASE TEMPO (slower) – press the lower right button. Tempo will decrease by -0.01 second per click.
CHANGE MODE – press the top button for about 1 second. There are three modes 1, 2, and 3.
Mode 1 is for Tempo = seconds per stroke.
Mode 2 is for setting pace times for laps, distance or intervals (setting the beep to correspond to the time you reach a certain point in your swim, not every stroke).
Mode 3 is for Stroke Rate = strokes per minute. It is the inverse of Mode 1.
Mode 1 and Mode 3 are mathematical inverses to each other.
Example: A 1.00 second Tempo (Mode 1) = 60 Strokes Per Minute (Mode 3)
It is a matter of preference in which unit or mode to use. For pool work it is most convenient to use Tempo (Mode 1) in conjunction with stroke counting and doing the math calculations.
The most common way to use the Tempo Trainer is to set the beep (Mode 1) to sound off with each stroke you take.
Your brain anticipates the beep and your are challenged to keep your stroke in rhythm with the consistent beeping of the Tempo Trainer – just like a metronome works to keep a pianist on tempo.
But where in the stroke should you put the beep?
You can time that beep with any part of the stroke you want, anywhere on the body.
You could concentrate on timing the beep with one of these easily identifiable points:
- The fingers of your spearing hand cut the surface of the water in front
- Your spearing arm reaching Full Extension point
- Setting The Catch
- Initiating the Hip Thrust
- The 2-Beat Kick
Everyone has a Tempo ‘Comfort Zone’ to start with – this is a range of Tempos that you can comfortably take strokes at. There will be a comfortable middle zone, there will be a uncomfortably fast edge and an uncomfortably slow edge to that tempo range.
Whether that tempo range is appropriate or not for your swimming goals is another question. Answering that question is another part of the TI improvement path. Just because it is comfortable now does not mean that is where you should keep it – your goals, your body, and your brain will determine where the appropriate range should be.
But to start with, experiment at different tempos to find out where your tempo range is – start with 1.30 seconds per stroke and incrementally work your way toward the slow direction to find out where it starts to feel awkwardly slow (your sense of stability in the water will feel challenged). And then incrementally work your way toward the fast direction to find out there it starts to feel rushed and it feels hard to hold your best stroke. Take note of where your Comfort Zone seems to be and use that as a reference point for your training with the Tempo Trainer.
In your initial work with the Tempo Trainer it will help you in two ways:
1) It will train your brain to hold consistent rhythm for every stroke.
2) It will train your brain to concentrate on a particular point of your stroke.
I often mention to swimmers, “The Tempo Trainer makes a great servant but a terrible master.” In other words, use the Tempo Trainer when it is helping you achieve a specific skill goal. But when you find it oppressive or overwhelming to your brain, set it aside. It is a wonderful tool at the right times, but it is not a tool for all times. Ultimately, we train with a Tempo Trainer in order to be able to swim at Tempo without using one. We use the Tempo Trainer to build a Tempo-Trainer into our own brain’s circuits.
If you see the numbers on the screen but do not hear a beep it is possible that the TTPro is set Mode 2, in minutes rather than seconds, and so you’ll be waiting for those minutes to pass on the screen before you hear another beep! If you hold down the Left Button it will start increasing speed more rapidly. The longer you press and hold the button down the seconds will accelerate, so be careful how long you press it.
Re-read the TT manual to understand the different between Seconds and Minutes mode. For many of our beginner’s purposes I don’t find the Minute mode to be very useful, but the feature provides many creative options for training. (I happen to use my TT for running with a certain stride tempo as well).
I do not use the bulky clip provided with the TT. Instead I slip the TT under my camp somewhere comfortable behind my ear or toward the back of my head, below my goggle straps.
I have learned to keep the TT in my cap, pre-set it to my starting tempo, then just reach my hand behind my head, and by feel, click the Left or Right button to speed up or slow down the tempo during my practice. I rarely pull it out in the pool, but sometimes I feel I’ve mis-clicked or I lose track of what tempo I am on so I pull it out to look. The TT Pro floats, fortunately, but still, I don’t want to go looking for it in rough or murky water. The risk of dropping the TT from the clip, in my opinion, is far more dangerous since the snugness of the clips is not consistent from TT to TT and water is pushing against it noticeably when worn outside the cap. Also a rogue wave or arm can knock it off the clip.
I often swim with it in open-water and don’t want to turn it on until a certain point in my swim. I can just reach back to TT hidden under my cap and click the Right Button ON and start swimming at the pre-set tempo, without ever looking at it.
Enjoy your new toy!