Time under tension = time to grow

Most people think that you have to lift heavy to grow muscle but not the case when you apply the TUT Principle!


Time under tension- What is it? Does it work? And why?The ‘time under tension’ principle technique can be described as the length of time a muscle is under strain/load for a set period of time, whether  that’s 1 hour, 1 day or 1 week. But typically when we train it’s the time that the muscle is working during a single set exercise.


So for example during a simple press up most people would  be able to complete the movement in about 1-2 seconds , but if we applied the time under tension principle this could be extended to 5-6 seconds  per pressup resulting in the working muscles  being placed under load for a longer period of time, with the same weight.


This second type of press-up described would be divided into 4 phases of execution. Eccentric (muscle lengthening under stress), lenghtenedisometric phase (lengthened pause under tension),concentric (shortening under tension /stress), Shortenedisometricphase (shortened muscle). Typically I would divide the times up as follows 4,0,1,0. But these timings can be manipulated in many different ways to create variation in the workout.


I know what you’re thinking - ’Isn’t your lifting weight going to decrease when you are slowing the speed of the rep down?’ And ‘Isn’t the weight the number 1 factor in recruiting maximum amount of muscle fibres?’  Well the answers areboth yes and no.


After analyzing hundreds of studies, researchers have concluded that performing sets to failure with moderately heavy loads—at least 60 percent of 1RM, with highest rates occurring around the 70-85 percent of 1RM mark—yielded the greatest hypertrophy results.


The review clearly indicated that maximal loads are not necessary for hypertrophy, but also that training should be performed close to maximum effort in at least one set. Equally important, the authors also concluded that the total duration of muscle activity per session may be a more critical factor than the total reps in inducing hypertrophy.


 So from the above statement we cantake away that there’sno point going in the gym and thinking, today I am going to use the time under tension principle and lift heavy 1RM weights, that’s just not going to work. So how do we put this into action?


Most studies show that there seems to be a sweet spot for picking the weight and the number of reps to be performed when using TUT. Weight selection should be around the 60-85% mark of your 1 repition max and the rep range will need to be within the 5-12 rep range with a rep speed of 4-7 seconds, so a single set can last anywhere from 20seconds to 80seconds in length.


If your just starting out with TUT it’s no use diving in at the deep end and going for 12 reps, 7 second rep speed and 85% of 1RM it just aint gonna happen!


I would start at the other end of the scale, with a 4 second rep speed, 8 reps, and 60-70% 1RM, and build up from there. Trust me if you’re going to use this technique properly your weights WILL come down.


Basically, slow lifting movements with relatively heavy weights results in the greatest muscle mass gains. According to the researchers, "The slow lifting style may minimize the role that momentum plays in completing the lift, thereby maintaining the need for tension development throughout the range of movement."


As long as the stimulus was sufficient and progress was made over time, muscle mass will increase.


These rules work well for everyone who trains, but they are particularly important as we age. As the years go by, tissue begins to dry out; beneficial hormones and enzymes decline; and just as urgently, responsibilities change.


Being injured when you're young, energetic, and foolish doesn't matter as much. You heal quickly and can focus all of your energy on getting back in action. Try pulling this off when you have kids, a mortgage, and a day full of professional obligations!


There's little upside to being as cavalier as you were in your youth. Using maximal or supramaximal loads, risking tearing a pec while benching or ruining your back while squatting, is unnecessary. Submaximal loads will do just fine, thank you very much! If you seek size, manipulating time under tension and time between tension is the key, and moderately heavy loads are enough to get the job done.


But don't just take my word for it. Even the likes of  Bill Kazmaier, one of the strongest men to ever walk the planet, has reduced the poundage over the years. Kaz conceded to "Iron Man's" John Rowley, "When you get over 50, you're better off looking strong than being strong!"


Just remember this: The young ladies on the beach don't care what you lift; all they'll see is how you look. Young or old, it's about "time" that you follow moderate rules for maximum results!


To see this intensifier training technique in action I will be uploading some example workouts to my YouTube channel so watch this space.



Laurie Carr
UKBFF Super heavyweight champion Bodybuilder& Physique Coach
Muscle gain & Fat Loss expert



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