The Role of Time Under Tension

Time Under Tension

Time under tension is yet another intensity technique that you should be working with in your training. It is a simple technique that is easy to vary, but brings about great results. In fact, there are certain muscle groups (the back for instance) that greatly benefit from this type of training.

The idea is that the longer the muscle is under the tension the more you break down the muscle fibers. Since muscle growth comes from breaking down the muscle fibers and then allowing them to repair themselves, this is a good thing. But how do you accomplish this?

As my loyal readers will no doubt be aware, I am a huge proponent of High Intensity Training for weight lifting. One of the biggest variables in this type of training is time under tension. The tempo of the lifts is very important. if you want to be humbled, try lifting with a 3-0-3 tempo. Basically that’s a steady paced lift where the concentric and eccentric portions of the lift are done in 3 seconds time. You will find out very fast how difficult this can be.

The back (as mentioned previously) benefits greatly from this type of training. By doing a row (for instance) smoothly and then squeezing the back muscles and holding for a count of 3, you are stimulating massive growth in your back. The same thing can be done with a lat pull down. Simply bring the weight stack down slowly, hold it for a count of 3, then raise it back to full stretched position. Again, you will stimulate your lats more than anything you can imagine.

Tomorrow is a chest day for me. I am planning to use the time under tension technique on a finishing movement for the workout. I will grab some dumbbells that are half of what I can handle for 10 reps. I will then do incline presses with those dumbbells, but I will slip in the time under tension principle as follows. At the top of the movement I will hold for a count of ten while squeezing the chest muscles tightly. At the bottom of the movement I will hold the stretch for a count of 10. I will aim for 10 reps using this method. I can’t wait to see what the pump will feel like.

If you want to change things up, try the time under tension principle in your next workout. Give it a try and let me know via the comments what you think. I have a feeling you will be truly surprised.

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