Time under tension (TUT) refers to the amount of time a muscle is held under tension or strain during an exercise set. During TUT workouts, you lengthen each phase of the movement to make your sets longer.
The idea is that this forces your muscles to work harder and optimizes muscular strength, endurance, and growth.
Exercises that use the TUT method include weightlifting and bodyweight training. In TUT workouts, you slow down the movements of each repetition and spend more time on the difficult phase of the exercise. By slowing down the movement, the muscle is held under tension for a longer period, which may yield better results.
Read on to learn about benefits of time under tension workouts as well as how you can include it in your fitness routine.
Incorporating the TUT technique to your workouts may help you to get more out of your exercise routine. Changing up your routine by contracting your muscles for longer can also help you to blast past any plateaus. All of these benefits have a positive effect on your functioning in daily and athletic activities.
TUT workouts are designed to create tension in your muscles for a longer period of time, which leads to muscle growth. The harder you make your muscles work, the better results you’ll see.
Bigger, stronger muscles enhance muscular control, improve bone mineral density, and lower body fat percentage. Your body will look and feel more toned, and you may experience more muscle soreness.
Using slow movements can help you to be more purposeful while at the same time allowing your mind to relax. This can stimulate awareness and concentration, which helps you to be more mindful.
When you pay attention to your movement, you can focus on proper breathing techniques, alignment, and movement patterns. This helps to develop muscular control and correct posture while stabilizing your body in a way that prevents injuries.
Scientific evidence surrounding the effectiveness of time under tension workouts varies. The results of a 2019 study found that TUT has a negligible effect on resistance exercise training in increasing muscle size and strength.
Other research shows more promising results. A small 2016 study found that making the eccentric phase (lengthening) double the length of the concentric phase (shortening) can have positive results on muscle growth.
People who increased the duration of the eccentric phase of a bench press repetition increased muscle activation and blood lactate response. This indicates that adding 2 seconds to the eccentric phase of lifting stimulates higher physiological demands, making the movement more challenging and effective.
To incorporate TUT technique into your exercise program, slow it down. Performing movements at a slower tempo will stimulate your muscles to promote growth. You may have to use a lighter weight since the increased time will be more difficult to sustain.
To use the tempo method, slow down the eccentric phase of each repetition. Extend each eccentric phase by 2 to 6 seconds. Or you can make the eccentric phase double the length of the concentric phase.
Incorporating the TUT method to an exercise you’re already used to doing will make it more challenging and provide better results. Use smooth, even, and controlled movements.
Choose a tempo for the lifting, lowering, and pause phases and stick to it. Move through the entire movement instead of stopping short.
TUT can be more challenging since it’s more difficult to remain in a pose for a long time or move your body slowly than it is to rush through movements. You’re more likely to do the movements quickly when the weight is too heavy or you’re feeling tired.
You can do TUT during isometric exercises such as planks, squats, or lunges. Wall sits and overhead holds are also options. When doing an isometric hold during a movement, choose the position that’s the most difficult.
You can also slow down the movement when you’re doing legs lifts or flowing between two yoga poses such as Downward-Facing Dog and Upward-Facing Dog.
- Focus on spending more time doing the difficult part of an exercise, which is usually the lengthening or eccentric phase.
- For maximum muscle growth, do at least 4 to 6 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions for each exercise.
- Use a weight load that’s heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue.
- Over several weeks, you can increase the weight that you’re lifting or do more challenging exercises.
- Give yourself time to recover between workouts by targeting different muscle groups on different days.
- Usually, a strength training TUT set lasts between 30 and 60 seconds, depending on how many repetitions you do, as well as the weight load.
- Focus on timing your sets instead of simply doing lots of repetitions in a short time. Set a timer and do an exercise for that amount of time without a break.
- Finish with one set at an even slower tempo.
- During TUT workouts it’s important to rest between sets. Resting for about 1 minute in between sets is ideal since this gives your muscles enough time to recover before the next round.
Schedule a session with a fitness pro if you would like to take your workouts to the next level. One of the main benefits of having a personal trainer for TUT workouts is that they can help you to keep track of time. It’s natural to lose count or to speed it up once you start to feel tired.
A small 2015 study found that most people didn’t follow the prescribed TUT exercise instructions when they did the exercises on their own. This points to the importance of working regularly with a professional as well as having clear, precise instructions to do the workout on your own.
A trainer can make sure you’re doing the correct amount of reps and sets. Plus, they’ll make sure you stay focused and on point so you can make the best use of your session. You may even end up spending less time in the gym while getting better results.
A fitness pro can also use your intended training outcomes to design a customized workout plan. They can design a program based on target goals such as:
- muscle growth (hypertrophy)
- muscular endurance
Trainers have a wealth of experience and can show you exactly how to make improvements to your form, breath, and alignment. Plus, they can ensure you’re doing the workouts correctly in order to ensure safety and efficiency.
They’ll motivate you and cheer you on as you move toward your goals. As you hit your targets, your trainer can help you to decide upon the next progressions so you continue to improve.
Time under tension workouts can enhance your performance and endurance by building bigger, stronger muscles. It’s a great technique to add to your existing workout program, especially if you want to shake up your routine and improve your fitness.
You may find the process of slowing down your workouts more satisfying since you’ll have the chance to connect to your body and focus on form, alignment, and movement patterns.