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Using time under tension for muscle growth

Using time under tension for muscle growth

When you perform a movement in the gym, you are contracting your muscles and they do this under 'tension'. This tension causes metabolic stress in the muscle and is a key factor for muscle growth. 

There is a training method called 'time under tension' and this is used by a lot of individuals who are focusing on overloading the muscle to build new tissue. In this blog we will break down everything you need to know about time under tension and you can decide if it's something that you should implement to your training routine.

What is time under tension?

So what is time under tension training? TUT (time under tension) is where we increase the amount of time a muscle is challenged when performing a movement. For example on a lat pull down machine, if you control the weight on the way up you will be keeping your lats under tension for a longer period of time. 

Time under tension is another way to apply progressive overload, just like increasing the weight is. Timing and controlling the tempo of your movements is going to be an effective way to apply time under tension during an exercise.

The best rep range for muscle growth

A common question you hear is, "how many reps is the best to build muscle?". There isn't actually a right answer to this question, if you are working within the 3-20 rep range and progressing over the weeks, you will be able to achieve muscle growth. In terms of the most optimal rep ranges for applying time under tension it is suggested that 8-12 reps is a good target for most people.

What is mind to muscle connection

In order to perform time under tension effectively, you should aim to perfect your mind to muscle connection and practice contracting your muscles that you are targeting. Mind to muscle connection is where you are able to think about how an exercise is targeting a muscle group so you can perform an exercise with more accuracy.

Tips to apply time under tension

1. Keep a consistent tempo throughout your set

Timing each rep throughout a set to keep that consistent time under tension will allow you to get the most out of every set. Set a target tempo, for example 3 seconds on the negative and 1 second on the way up.

2. Focus on perfecting your form

Time under tension training is most effective when your form is 100%. Practice applying time under tension with a lighter weight so you can get your form in a good place ready to go into a heavier working set.

3. Avoid locking out

Locking out at the top of some movements can not only put yourself at risk of injury but is also means you are taking the tension away from your muscle. For example on a bench press, when you lock out at the top of the movement your muscle isn't actually under any tension at that point. Perform movements to the point where you are just about to lock out to keep that tension on the targeted muscle being trained.    

 If you have hit a plateau with your training and are looking to progress, try adding some time under tension training to your workouts and combine this with a nutrition and lifestyle plan. 

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Posted 20 Nov 2023