Time Under Tension (TUT)

All bodybuilders know very well that the only reason any hypertrophy is achieved with progressive resistance is because of the time under tension (TUT). Sports science has now conclusively proved that the only reason a muscle is able to grow in size is because of the time spent under tension.

Unfortunately many people who start going to gym to gain muscle land up doing 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 10 reps without considering the actual time spent under tension. The average time it takes to do 10 reps on any movement is between 15 to 25 seconds.

When TUT can be increased the resulting growth in muscle can be seen, which has now been seen in many clinical studies. If you are simply able to increase the time it takes to perform a set of ten repetitions then you will increase the results that you get from your training.

In order to increase the time under tension that you put your muscles through when you are training there are a few fundamental requirements that should be taken seriously if you want to get the benefits of TUT.

The six points are listed below :
  • The first is to always be aware of the reason why you are training a little bit slower than normal and that means making sure that you do not lock out. Whether you are doing bench-press or squats you need to make sure that the tension is always maintained and that you never relax by locking out your knees or your elbows which reduces the tension. You need to spend more time in the difficult portion of the lift and not the easy part of the lift.
  • Tempo is important and you should stick to a 2/4/0 tempo which means that 2 seconds for the lifting (concentric), 4 seconds for the lowering (eccentric) and 0 seconds on the pause which means no rest or stop is done when training with TUT.
  • Sports science tells us that we are 60% stronger on the eccentric (lowering) part of a lift and this is why the tempo puts more time on the eccentric part of the movement. Any eccentric lift will cause more muscle damage on any isolated muscle group which results is faster muscle building for size when the correct rest and nutrition are combined.
  • When training with TUT you will reach a point of fatigue a lot quicker so you need to always concentrate on form/technique to always make sure that your form remains perfectly intact at all times. Cheating while doing TUT is counter productive and doing partial reps when trying to increase TUT is not going to improve results.
  • When training with TUT and you have selected a weight that you cannot finish off the last few reps on a set you should do drop sets. This simply means that when you reach the point of failure in the middle of the set you can reduce the weight and continue. Whether this is done by selecting a lighter set of dumbbells or simple reducing the weight on a machine press or bench-press it will avoid you needing to start cheating your form.
  • Sports science has proven to us that intensity is everything when it comes to getting results in muscle growth. If you simply lift the weight or do the movement until the buzzer goes it does not guarantee that you will get stronger. Making sure that you are always going to get the maximum results in muscle gain when training with time under tension means that you should always strive to increase intensity. This means a minimum requirement of 60% of 1RM when you are training like this. If you are training with time under tension (TUT) you should use no less than 60% of the maximum amount that you can lift for one repetition of that movement, then increased muscle gain is guaranteed.