Wondering why time under tension is important for seeing best results? If you’re looking to get optimal results from your muscle building workout program, this is one element you can’t overlook.
So many people go out on the hunt for a muscle building program and put so much focus on the precise exercises they’re doing, how much rest they’re taking between the exercises, how often they’re working out each week, and so on, but then completely neglect the time under tension factor.
If you don’t get this one right, you’re missing out on a key element that can create huge workout success.
So what is time under tension? Before we point out the benefits of it, it’s important to understand what it is.
What Time Under Tension Means
When you talk about time under tension, this essentially refers to how much time the muscles are under stress. Basically, if you lift a weight and it takes you 40 seconds to complete that set, you have a total time under tension of 40 seconds.
This time under tension factor then is also directly related to the tempo that you’re using. If you’re using a tempo of 3-1-1 for instance, which means it takes you 3 seconds to perform the first part of the movement, you’ll take a one second pause at the top, and then you lower the weight back down over a one second time period, your total time under tension would then be 5 seconds per rep.
Complete 10 reps total and you’ve just achieved a ‘TUT’ of 50 seconds.
Now, to assess the total time under tension, you would then multiply your total TUT per set by the total number of sets you’re going to perform of that exercise, and then add together all the values for each exercise of your session.
That then gives you the time under tension for the workout, which is what you’re looking for here.
Now let’s assess the benefits.
Greater Metabolic Response
The first big benefit you’ll get from monitoring your time under tension and then working to improve it is an enhanced metabolic response. The more time under tension you’re placing that muscle under, generally the greater the growth hormone release will be.
Additionally, if you have a large time under tension, you’ll also really jumpstart the metabolism since you are making the body do so much work and will be creating quite a high degree of micro tears in the tissues, therefore this will cause the body to expend more calories once the workout is finished.
Both of these factors working together is perfect for both increasing muscle definition and burning off body fat.
Higher Capacity To Deal With Fatigue
Second, the next benefit to working on bringing up your total time under tension is that it’s going to help the muscles learn to deal with a higher level of fatigue.
Since the more stress you place on the muscle with each rep you perform, the more you’ll deplete the muscle of the resources it has, the greater its ability to deal with fatigue will become.
If you’re looking to fully deplete your muscle glycogen levels so that when you come out of that workout session and load up with carbs post-workout to evoke a huge muscle growth potential, increasing your total time under tension is the way to do it.
This is a very effective strategy that many people will use to see high degrees of muscle growth.
Notes To Make About Time Under Tension
Now that you can see that using a higher time under tension is an effective strategy to bring about higher levels of muscular fatigue, one thing that you do want to note here is that this doesn’t mean you should go reducing your weight to a very large extent.
That’s one key mistake that some people will make and it will really hold them back from progress.
The goal of any muscle building workout program must always be to maintain heavy lifting, so really try and ensure that you aren’t dropping the weight too much to achieve a greater TUT.
If you have to lower the weight by more than five pounds, speed up the tempo so it’s not quite so slow and you can successfully complete the exercise.
You will definitely notice the weight drop slightly if you do move to a higher TUT protocol for each rep performed, but as long as it’s minimal, it won’t impact your strength gains as you’ll be getting a good growth response from the higher total tension level.
So next time you’re looking for a way to improve the muscle building results you see, consider time under tension. By playing around with the tempo that you’re using as you go about your weight lifting exercises, you can alter the total time under tension that you receive as you move through your workout and thus experience faster muscle building gains.
Keep Moving, Stay Fit,
Martin Bolduc, CPT
** Martin Bolduc is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Express Fat Loss and the winner of the Lean Body Challenge 2008. Martin is a Certified Personal Trainer ACE and BCRPA and a natural bodybuilder. Martin helps hundreds of clients to reach their goals. Get Your Special Report on Express Fat Loss
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