Want to increase your muscle size in a particular area? Perhaps you want to train your glutes or legs to increase their size and shape. Maximising time under tension is one way to do it.
Time Under Tension - Explained
Time under tension or 'TUT' is the amount of time your muscles are under stress during a set. So think of the length of time they are actually working hard and not relaxed during that set.
The longer time a muscle is under tension causes greater microtrauma or micrro muscle tears. This in turn leads to an increase in muscle size.
TUT takes into account the concentric phase (where your muscles shorten), the peak contraction phase (think of the top part of a hip thrust) and also the eccentric phase (muscles lengthening). These are all part of the same rep and can all be adjusted by using time.
If you completed each rep over 2 seconds for a 10 rep set then your time under tension would be 20 seconds. Now, by keeping the reps the same but simply increasing the time by 2 seconds per rep, your muscles would have been under load for double the amount of time and under greater stress. This simple increase of the TUT each rep can have amazing results!
How to perform
To increase muscle size we will use the optimal 8-12 reps hypertrophy range as a starting point. Aim to complete sets between 50-70 seconds. So if you complete each rep for 5-6 seconds in your sets, you'll be within this range. It is best to start lighter using the 12 rep range so that you really master the technique.
If you wanted to focus more on strength gains, then the TUT should be slightly lower at between 30-50 seconds. So here choose 8 rep sets at around 4-5 seconds per rep.
Which part of the rep should be longest?
Let's take the sumo squat as an example here. Aim for a controlled 3 seconds as you lower your hips down. At your full depth pause for 1-2 seconds and then keeping good form, drive the weight back up over 1 second.
You may need to reduce the weight from what you would normally use for 8-12 reps due to the massive fatigue your muscles experience. Tip: Try to keep the time the same for each portion of the rep for all TUT exercises and body parts.
How many exercises should I do?
Try using Time Under Tension in the first two exercises in your next workout and keep your sets to 4-5. So for a typical legs workout you could perform the below session:
- Sumo Squat (TUT) 4 Sets
- Romanian Deadlift (TUT) 4 Sets
- Cable Pull Through (4 sets 10-15 reps)
- Walking Lunges (4 sets 12 reps)
You can use TUT for all muscle groups and we suggest using it for your compound lifts for maximum results!