Make Gains with Time Under Tension
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that sometimes on my health and fitness journey I hit a rut. A plain ol’ plateau where I stop seeing progress no matter how hard I work!
Time Under Tension will completely change the way you workout…in a good way. You’ll find that you put more emphasis on timing and form for a more effective workout. Therefore leading to better results!
In this article we will cover how to practice time under tension for hypertrophy of your muscles. Plus, get examples of time under tension workouts.
What is Time Under Tension? It is a way to track your lifting by timing the amount of time the muscle is under tension during an exercise.
So for example, you are doing a bicep curl. You curl the weight up in 1 second and lower it back down for 4 seconds without pausing. You perform 10 reps without a break. This means the muscle was under tension for 50 seconds non-stop (5sec tension x 10reps).
Want quicker results? Keep reading. This technique is thought to promote muscle hypertrophy (growth) quicker than the basic lifting style of lifting for 1sec and lowering for 1sec. It requires you to take less pauses and breaks. It also requires you to focus on the eccentric portion of the exercises which requires more force from the muscle and therefore more growth: more muscle micro-tears, more calorie expenditure, and more metabolic response!
Listen: Time under Tension focuses more on Speed than # of sets/reps. Get rid of the 3 sets of 10 that is engrained in your mind (and results in your lifting for only about 20 seconds total). Instead, focus on speed and control. Slowing things down is harder than you think. You may even have to drop your weight in order to develop better control. But TUT will be better in the long run for your progress.
Note: The optimal time for the muscle to be under tension is 40-70 seconds non-stop per set to develop muscle mass. * This is crucial!! When you set your stopwatch or watch your clock, continue lifting until you have reached that optimal amount of time.
Here are some additional TUT tips:
- Avoid locking out your joints. There is no muscle activation in that position, so stop just short of locking out. For the bicep curl example I used earlier, I would curl up, then back down slowly, and immediately back up into my next rep without letting my arm completely straighten (lock) out.
- Try different tempos. Maybe lift for 1sec and lower for 4sec. Or lift for 2sec and lower for 5sec. Mix it up each time!
- Focus on good form. It is better to lift with proper form and good posture than to get sloppy and use momentum to lift the weight.
- Avoid pausing. You should be in constant movement. No pauses at the top or the bottom of the motion.
- Focus on the eccentric. Aka the negative. This is the portion of the exercise where the muscle is lengthening versus concentric/positive which is when the muscle is shortening.
Watch the video below to understand better:
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To wrap up, time under tension is a great technique to break plateau’s. Remember, volume is the MOST important thing to make gains. But TUT takes a close second.