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The Benefits of Time Under Tension Training

November 14, 20233 min read

The Benefits of Time Under Tension Training

Have you ever hit a wall in your strength training progression? Have you been bench pressing the same weight for months? Years? Maybe it’s time to incorporate a new method of training, time under tension.  Time under tension, or TUT for short, is the amount of time that a muscle or a group of muscles is under stress. Muscles under stress for long periods of time will have greater muscle fiber recruitment resulting in muscle growth.

Slow vs Fast
The two most common methods of performing reps to an exercise are slow and controlled or fast and explosive. Each method has value. A controlled slower tempo elicits a lower risk of injury as well as more muscle fiber recruitment, due to the TUT the muscles are exposed to. Fast and explosive reps are much harder to control which causes them to have a higher injury risk but can be very beneficial in increasing power output. However, the risk of injury goes hand in hand with speed of reps. This is mainly because most people don’t have the control and stability needed to complete the reps in a safe manner. We should always master the movement under a slow and controlled tempo before we progress into fast and explosive.

Benefits to Tempo Training

Whether it be fast and explosive or slow and controlled, the muscles become adapted to the style of training used the most. I notice most people at BFP are used to the fast and explosive style versus the slow and controlled style. Every now and then we will program in some tempo exercises into the workouts. However, when we do tempo training at BFP, most people ignore the tempo and complete the reps how they are used to doing them, fast. The reason we slow down the tempo is to create more TUT. If the muscles are not adapted to a slow and controlled tempo we will build more muscle.
When doing TUT movements, you should use a lighter weight than you are used to and slow down the pace of your reps. Ideally, you want time under tension sets to last 40-60 seconds. For example, if we are doing tempo bicep curls at a tempo of 2-0-3-0, we are taking 2 seconds to bend our elbow, 0 seconds to pause (so no pause at all), 3 seconds to straighten our elbow and 0 seconds to pause once again. So overall one rep took about 5 seconds to complete. If we are completing 12 reps per set that would equate to 60 seconds of total TUT.

Limiting Range of Motion

A big misconception in weight-lifting is every rep must be completed with a full range of motion.
A great way to incorporate TUT without tempo training is to limit the range of motion during an exercise. For example, If I am completing 12 reps on Bench Press instead of locking my elbows out on each rep I am only going to come about 3/4th of the way up (see photo below). This causes my muscles to stay under stress during the entire 12 reps in the set. Resulting in greater muscle fiber recruitment.

Keep in mind this specific method only works for certain exercises and should not be done with all movements, so consult a coach before attempting this technique.

With all that being said, I hope to see everyone sticking to the timing of tempo exercises when we are programming them in. Maybe even incorporating them into the exercises when we aren’t specifically training for TUT that day.

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Breakaway Fitness & Performance

Breakaway Fitness & Performance focuses on strength training, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle in their blogs.

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