Building muscle mass quickly and effectively is the main focus when you’re bodybuilding and strength training. In the gym, you’ll find many different methods being suggested and used for building muscle mass; time under tension (TUT) is one of these methods.
You might have heard mention of TUT in the gym before, but what is it, and how can it help you maximize your muscle gains? Today, we’ll take a look at this popular method for quickly building muscle mass and explore how you can effectively use it.
Time Under Tension Explained
Just as it says in its name, time under tension (TUT) is all about the time, specifically, how much time you spend during a set keeping a muscle under strain. Essentially, those who use TUT in their workout sessions will lengthen the time of each repetition to spend more time on each muscle and (hopefully) enhance muscle growth through increased tension.
Benefits of Time Under Tension
It’s thought that using TUT in muscle building and strength training will lead to bigger muscles much faster than traditional methods. That being said, other reported benefits are possible through using TUT:
- Mindfulness – By slowing down a bit during strength training, you can focus more on what you’re doing at present and concentrate on maximizing your repetitions.
- Better Posture – TUT provides a unique chance to concentrate on how you’re posturing your body while lifting. By doing this, you can enhance your alignment and even perfect how you’re moving during individual repetitions.
- Reduced Injury Chance – There is always a high chance of injury when you’re working muscles to build strength and mass; however, when you slow things down through TUT, you can potentially avoid some damage by focusing more on what you’re doing at the time.
What Science Says
Does science support the use of TUT? In the gym world, you’ll find that there are many different methods and techniques used and recommended for strength training; unfortunately, a lot of these are not scientifically based or practical. Fortunately, there is evidence that TUT can help build muscle mass.
In 2016, a study was conducted on the benefits of TUT. The results concluded “that longer repetition duration with similar concentric duration, but higher eccentric action duration, increases the blood lactate response and muscle activation. These findings indicate higher physiological demands with longer repetition duration. The relevance of this data is that increasing repetition duration should be considered as a progression in resistance training.”
Alternatively, a study in 2019 concluded that TUT had little to no effect on muscle and strength training. The results of this study can be viewed here. This study purports that the FITT (a combination of frequency, intensity, type of exercise, and time spent) method of training is more effective.
Incorporating Time Under Tension Into Your Routine
As shown, studies on TUT aren’t conclusive on the effectiveness of the method. If you choose to move forward with incorporating TUT into your routine, it’s vital to engage in the right way to maximize your chance at seeing enhanced muscle growth.
When you’re weight lifting, the point in which you are lowering the weight is called the “eccentric phase.” When you are utilizing TUT, it will be conducted during the eccentric phase portion of your repetitions. Essentially, instead of immediately lowering the weight as you hit the down position, you’ll slow down the movement between two to six seconds longer than usual.
Should You Use a Trainer for TUT?
It’s no secret that TUT takes a little getting used to. While this may be a method for building strength, it also takes some enhanced strength to hold positions for longer during your training. You may find it helpful to utilize a trainer, at least in the beginning, to help you conduct TUT correctly.
By hiring a trainer or using one provided at your gym, you can gain assistance in the following ways:
- Time Tracking – Perhaps one of the most important reasons you’d hire a trainer to help with TUT is to help with tracking time. While in the middle of a workout, it can be challenging to track counts and time, which are extremely important to this method. Trainers can assist by keeping your time and counts for you to ensure you stay on track.
- Goals – Fitness trainers have the experience to help you meet your individual weight lifting goals. By hiring a trainer, you gain the expertise and insight needed to help you achieve the goals you’ve set with desired strength and muscle building.
- Motivation – TUT can be challenging to master. It never hurts to have someone cheering you on and supporting you during your sessions!
- Accuracy – Fitness trainers can help ensure you are conducting your TUT exercises correctly; this can help maximize your results and avoid potential injury.
Ready to begin your TUT routine? We’ve got some professional pointers that can help you get the most out of your sessions:
- Repetitions – As with most weight training methods, repetition is vital; TUT is no different. It’s recommended that you conduct at least four to six sets of six to twelve repetitions with each weight lifting exercise you perform.
- Weight Amount – Don’t start too light with your weight load. For your TUT routines, choose weights that will put significant strain and fatigue on the muscle groups you’re working.
- Timing – Timing is everything with TUT. While your rep counts are important, it’s even more important to time your TUT sets to ensure you are slowing down enough in your sessions to maximize your chance of seeing results.
- Rest – Rest is so crucial during muscle and strength training because it allows your muscles time to recover before moving forward. Take at least one minute in between sets to allow your muscles to rest.
- Start Slowly – TUT isn’t easy to begin with, but by starting slowly and working your way up to longer eccentric phases, you give yourself the best chance at success. Try holding for two seconds longer to start, and then slowly work your way up to six seconds.