Achieve Your Goals Using The Time Under Tension Principle
When you lift weights, how many reps do you perform with each set? Are these reps completed quickly just to get them over with or do you spend time completing each rep fully with the most strict of form? If you are rushing through each set, you are robbing yourself of potential gains and fat loss and you should consider using the Time Under Tension principle to help you achieve your desired goals.
How Long a Muscle is Under Tension During An Exercise
Time under tension is the term used by Personal Trainers that refers to how long a muscle is under tension or load during an exercise. The greater the time the muscle is under tension, the greater the potential for gains. Each repetition should be slow and controlled, paying strict attention to form. If we were to break each portion of the reps down into a time for you to follow for the best possible gains, you would find that most personal trainers use 4 seconds for each rep. This is then broken down into 2 seconds for the concentric phase and 2 seconds for the eccentric phase. The concentric phase of a rep is when the muscle is shortening or in the example of a bicep curl, it would be the up phase when the bicep is contracting. The eccentric phase of a repetition is when the muscle is lengthening or the down phase of a bicep curl.
The Best Possible For Gains and Fat Loss
Below is a list of common training goals for fat loss and their appropriate times under tension per set and reps.
- Optimal strength gains-each set should take you up to 20 seconds or 5 reps
- Optimal hypertrophy gains-each set should take up to 40 seconds or 10 reps
- Optimal conditioning or fat loss goals, each set should take up to 60 seconds or 15 reps
The next time you workout, have someone time you while you count your number of reps, and if you are able to complete more reps than what is suggested above, chances are you are probably doing each rep too quickly.
Play Around With the Timing of Each Rep
Once you become more familiar with the discomfort associated with using time under tension, you can play around with the timing of each portion of the repetitions. For example you can make the eccentric phase longer or slower for each repetition. The advantage of that would be to create more micro tears in the muscle fibers and encourage more growth.
Focus on form
As with any training principle, always focus on form. If you are not used to working through that amount of time, choose a weight that is slightly lighter than you are used to, and make sure you concentrate on completing each rep fully while maintaining strict form.
Reach Temporary Muscle Fatigue
The goal of each set should be to work until you reach temporary muscle fatigue, using the desired time under tension, and the appropriate weight for each exercise. Keep the intensity high, by challenging yourself without compromising technique.