BLOCK 6: TIME UNDER TENSION (TUT)
New Strength Block starts Monday, June 29th
New Weekly Training Schedule
Monday: Performance / Conditioning
Tuesday: Strength A
Wednesday: Performance/ Refine
Thursday: Strength B
Friday: Strength C
Saturday: Strength B Make-up
Sunday: Strength C Make-up
When it comes to building muscle, there are a lot of factors that come into play. You have the basics: rep ranges, total sets, rest periods, technique, and exercise selection. However, there is one variable that often gets neglected, if not forgotten altogether.
The amount of time you actually spend lifting the weights per repetition. The tempo of your repetition.
Time Under Tension (TUT) refers to the time that a muscle is under load or under strain during a set of a particular exercise.
FOUR REASONS TO SLOW IT DOWN
1. Mindful Movement: Time under tension requires practice of proper breathing techniques throughout your movement and training session. Proper breathing throughout the movement will help in an posture/alignment, neuromuscular control, and overall enjoyment of an exercise. Concentration on what you're doing and being in the moment; will allow you to feel the difference.
2. Motor Control / Technique Mastery: Enhancing specific movement patterns should be atop of your to-do list when your headed to the gym. Utilizing time under tension in this sense will aid in developing and maintaining motor control of particular movement patterns. Holding a certain position for a period of time, slowly moving through a pattern, an pausing to complete deep breaths are ways your brain can make the connection of what a pattern should feel like.
One issue with performing movements in an explosive fashion is that it can be easy to veil flaws in your technique — both from yourself and others. You might “think” you’re squatting with exceptional form, but in reality, your knees might be ever so slightly caving inwards on the concentric (lifting) portion of every rep.
This might not be the end of the world, especially if you’re not squatting with an external load on your back or in your hands — but keep in mind that the joints are like tires, and those tires only have so much tread — in time, something is going to give, and you’re going to be having problems if you’re causing unnecessary wear and tear.
Utilizing the “super slow” protocol, on the other hand, forces you to acknowledge and correct any errors in your form. If you’re taking a full ten seconds to bring yourself out of the bottom of that squat, you’re going to feel exactly when — and how severely — those knees are buckling in, and you’re going to make the necessary adjustments to get yourself truly squatting with flawless technique.
3. Strength and Hypertrophy: Muscle tension created through resistance training stimulates the growth of new muscle proteins, making your muscles bigger, through a process called hypertrophy. Simply put, lifting weights at a certain rate of time under tension will elicit different rates of hypertrophy. Generally speaking, when you are looking at rep ranges per set, 3-6 reps = strength and power, 8-12 reps = hypertrophy, and 15+ reps = muscular endurance. For hypertrophy, 60-90 seconds per set will provide an optimal stimuli to promote muscle synthesis. What do you need to know? Volume and time under tension is what will get you bigger muscles, given that the load you choose allows for greater volume. So if getting bigger muscles if your goal, slow it down and make each rep count.
4. Scalable to a Large Population: While there are many effective training modalities out there, some of them are less practical for the general population than others. You’re typically not going to have Kevin from accounting, who hasn’t touched a weight in years, performing high level Olympic lifts after a long day at the office on a Tuesday night. Training will time under tension leads to less injuries, denser bones, and stronger muscles are universally beneficial from an elite athlete to a senior citizen.
HOW TO INCORPORATE TIME UNDER TENSION INTO WORKOUTS
1. Tempo Reps: With this method, you slow down both the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) phases of the movement. Typically 3-6 seconds per phase will increase the load on the muscle group being worked on.
2. Isometric Holds: To increase time under tension, add movements that rely on creating more tension. Isometric holds are usually timed and start with a short amount of time and progressively build up.