Time under tension (TUT) is a popular training technique that involves controlling the tempo of your lifts to increase muscle tension and stimulate muscle growth. By manipulating the duration of each repetition, you can activate more muscle fibers and generate greater metabolic stress in the target muscles.
In this article, we'll explore the science behind time under tension training and provide some tips on how to perform TUT exercises properly to maximize muscle growth.
What is Time Under Tension Training?
Time under tension training refers to the total amount of time a muscle is under tension during a set of repetitions. In traditional weightlifting, a typical set lasts around 30-60 seconds. However, with TUT training, you aim to increase this time to 60-120 seconds.
By increasing the duration of muscle tension, TUT training causes metabolic stress and micro-tears in the muscle fibers, leading to greater muscle growth. TUT exercises are typically performed with slower, controlled movements, and with lighter weights to maintain the tension on the muscle for a more extended period.
How to Perform Time Under Tension Exercises?
Here are some guidelines for performing time under tension exercises:
Control the Tempo: The most important factor in TUT training is controlling the tempo of your lifts. To maximize muscle tension, you should use a slow, controlled pace when lifting weights. For example, you could use a 3-second eccentric (lowering) phase and a 1-second concentric (lifting) phase.
Use Lighter Weights: TUT exercises are typically performed with lighter weights than traditional weightlifting. This is because using heavier weights can cause you to lose control over the tempo of your lifts, leading to less muscle tension. For TUT training, choose a weight that allows you to perform each repetition slowly and with proper form.
Focus on the Target Muscle: When performing TUT exercises, it's important to focus on the target muscle and maintain tension throughout the entire range of motion. For example, if you're doing a bicep curl, focus on keeping your biceps engaged throughout the entire lift, rather than relying on momentum to lift the weight.
Vary Your Rep Range: To maximize muscle growth, it's essential to vary your rep range. You can do this by adjusting the duration of each repetition or by performing a different number of repetitions per set. For example, you could perform 8-12 reps per set with a 2-second eccentric and a 2-second concentric phase, or you could perform 15-20 reps per set with a 1-second eccentric and a 1-second concentric phase.
Incorporate Isometric Holds: Isometric holds can be a useful addition to TUT exercises. These involve holding a weight in a static position for a set period, causing maximum muscle tension. For example, you could perform a bicep curl and hold the weight at the top of the movement for 10-20 seconds before lowering it.
Increase Time Under Tension Over Time: To continue to see gains from TUT training, you need to increase the time under tension gradually over time. For example, you could start with a 60-second TUT for a specific exercise and aim to increase it to 90 seconds over the course of several weeks.