Utilizing Time Under Tension For Massive Leg Growth


We have all been taught that the best way to develop massive legs is to train them with heavy weights.

Squats, leg presses and hack squats are the most basic and effective exercises for building strength and muscle mass.

The Barbell Squat is the granddaddy of all leg exercises. This is one of the most basic power moves in the world and it is one of the three exercises used in powerlifting competitions. The squat utilizes the powerful muscles in the legs, back, glutes and hips to perform the movement so substantial poundages can be used.

The Leg Press is another movement in which very heavy poundages can be utilized. Using only the power of the hips and thighs will eliminating the potential weak point of the lower back, it’s not uncommon to see advanced trainers using almost 1000 pounds on the leg press machine.

However years of heavy training does take it’s toll on the joints and connective tissues. The lower back, knees and hips take a lot of punishment when heavy poundages are used in leg workouts for years and even decades.

Here is a leg workout that uses the Time Under Tension technique. TUT (time under tension) is a training technique in which the muscles are forced to work for a longer period of time during a working set. By increasing the tension time, less resistance can be used and the muscles are forced to work harder causing greater growth without additional load.

Here is a leg workout I currently . It utilizes the TUT technique to make the workout even harder and it allows me to use less weight which puts less stress on the knees and lower back whilst placing the targeted muscle group under continuous tension  and delivering the paramaters required for new growth.

Exercise 1 – Leg Extensions – Begin with the Leg Extension exercise to warm up the knees and pre-exhaust the quadriceps before moving onto the basic exercises. For the first set, use a moderately light weight and do 20 reps to warm up the knees and get the blood into the quadriceps. For the second set, increase the weight and do 15 reps. For the third and final set, increase the weight again and perform 10-12 reps.

At the conclusion of the Leg Extension exercise, the quads should be fully pumped and the knees warmed up and ready to go.

Exercise 2 – Pause Squats – The Barbell Squat is still the most basic and best size-building exercise ever. Using the powerful muscles of the legs, glutes, back and hips, lots of weight can be used in the Squat. To emphasize the quadriceps more and place less pressure on the lower back, I recommend Pause Squats. To perform a Pause Squat, stop at the bottom of the exercise for a 2-3 second pause before pushing back to the starting position. By coming out of the bottom of the movement from a dead stop, the quadriceps must work much harder and the lower back can not take over the momentum of the exercise. The pause will also cause the muscles of the legs to spend more time under tension compared to performing the exercise with normal repetitions.

Exercise 3 – Hack Squats (1 1/2 reps) – The 1 1/2 reps technique is one of the best training methods for increasing muscular time under tension. Using a leg exercise in which balance is not a factor is the best resource for this training method. To perform the 1 1/2 reps technique using the Hack Squat exercise, bend the knees until you are in a full squat position. From the bottom, go up only half way and stop when the legs are parallel to the foot platform. Go back down to the bottom and then push all the way up to the top. This is 1 1/2 reps. So, you go down all the way, come up only half way and stop, go back down to the bottom and then come all the way up to the top. By doing 1 1/2 reps instead of just one full rep, you are keeping the muscles under tension for a greater period of time. This will elicit more of a response from both the white and red muscle fibers.

About the Author

295722_2180331182667_1435853_nJohn Hansen is a competitive natural bodybuilder who has won the first Natural Mr. Olympia title and is a three time Natural Mr. Universe winner. John has appeared in various magazine covers and contributes material to various online and traditional magazines, including IRONMAN Magazine, where he has a monthly column.

It should be mentioned that at 49 years old, John Hansen also won the 2012 Natural Mr. Universe in the Professional Masters division; 20 years after winning his first Natural Mr. Universe title in 1992! You can follow John through his several websites including:

To contact John, email him at naturalolympia@gmail.com