Updated: Oct 25, 2020
If you feel your workout is falling short, you may not have adequate TUT. Time under tension, or TUT is the length of time muscles are under load without rest. In order for muscles to increase in strength and size, the tension or demand must be sufficient enough to stimulate necessary change. The greater the stimulus placed upon the muscle, the body is cued to repair the muscle, causing it to increase in size and strength. Bigger, stronger muscles increase bone density, boost metabolism, and enhance overall structural function throughout the body. Read on to discover the key components to safely achieving maximal time under tension.
Slow and steady
Anyone is capable of moving a weight quickly because momentum makes it easier to do so. However, achieving true exercise isn't about making it easier on your muscles. In fact, in order to stimulate muscle growth, you must achieve true exercise and the only way to do that is to slow down your movement speed. This will also allow you to achieve maximal time under tension.
Once you are no longer using speed to power through your workout, you will truly experience the necessary stimulus that promotes change. By removing speed from the equation, more effort and focus is put upon the targeted muscles. When the necessary level of demand is put upon the targeted muscles, those muscles will be forced into the repair stage where they will become bigger and stronger.
Slow-movement-high-intensity strength training is the most effective way to take your workout to the next level. Each twenty-second repetition requires the mindfulness necessary to achieve true exercise, while keeping the muscles safely under tension. Slow and steady is the key to a stronger, firmer body.
"Slow weight training keep the muscles under constant tension causing all muscle fibers and motor units to be recruited throughout the range of motion."
Keep muscles loaded
The only way to maintain time under tension is to keep your muscles fully loaded throughout your workout. This means when performing a dynamic range of motion exercise, it's important to move slowly and don't lockout or rest at the turnaround of each repetition.
If at any point you feel ease or a point of relief, you've let the muscles unload. The feeling of rest means you are no longer achieving exercise.
By keeping the muscles continually under load you are not only applying the necessary demand to promote change in strength, you are also maximizing your workout efficiently. If you focus on time under tension and working the muscles to failure, your body will finally experience the workout you've been looking for.
Reach muscle failure
One of the most important components of achieving true exercise is working until you've reached momentary muscle failure. If you aren't pushing yourself to this point, your muscles aren't being forced to adapt and change. Therefore your level of strength will stay the same, not improve.
In order to reach muscle failure safely, it's crucial to focus on proper form. It is counterproductive to speed up, or change position to simply squeak out one more sloppy repetition. True muscle failure should be achieved by performing as many slow reps as you possibly can while maintaining impeccable form.
If you haven't been challenging your muscles to the point of muscle failure, you've been shorting your muscles of the workout they need.
"Training to failure has many benefits: boosting strength levels, crushing plateaus, and getting the ultimate pump. By doing as many reps as possible with a given weight, you create an enormous stimulus for growth."
It's time to give it a try
If you've never experienced lifting weights slowly, it's time you did. You will be amazed by how differently your muscles engage and how much stronger your body feels. Whether you have free weights at home, or you belong to a gym, slow it down. Slow it way down. Take 10-12 seconds on the concentric movement and 8-10 seconds on the eccentric.
Because this approach is challenging, many people find they feel safer working out under the guidance of a personal trainer. If this is the case for you, search for a trainer in your area that specializes in slow-movement-high-intensity strength training. Once you experience this method of exercise and the results, you may never go back. If you're looking for a personal trainer in Santa Rosa CA, click here for a free session.