T Nation

Does TUT Matter?


I constantly am hearing this debate, that time-under-tension is important/non-important for muscle building.

I know that you get the best muscle fiber recruitement if you lift at higher speeds, but am always seeing big guys that lift slow.

Also, exercises like cleans and Snatches have very little TUT, but these "power" exercises can be used to build muscle with higher volumes right?


For me time under tension is important, but isn't what I base my training on. I try to lift continuously heavier with good form. So that means to me lifting explosively(as possible with heavy weights ha) and controlled lowering which increases TUT and muscle breakdown.

If you are getting out the stop watch and doing 4120 or some weird tempo, get a grip and add some weight to the bar.


Of course he matters, you insolent boob. He was a pharoah.


Power = work / time

Work = force * distance

Force = mass * acceleration

So what matters when lifting weights?

1) How much mass

2) Distance the mass is moved

3) How fast the mass is moved

4) Duration of the lift

These are all variables subject to manipulation, however to due to the specificity of the training effect they'll produce different biophysical results.


My initial thought as well. Everytime I think of King Tut I think of an x-ray of his mummified cat that my 3rd grade teacher showed me.

I feel like I got a better workout in when I use slow and controlled movements. But I dont think every exercise needs to have a slow TUT. An example would be I feel uncomfortable going too slow with the bench press, that is also an exercise I want to be able to put up more weight each time I do it.

Because of this I do the bench press movement with a lower TUT than I would doing flies. With Flies I like to feel the muscle squeezing. My TUT for bench press might be 10-15 seconds for 8 reps, while my fly movement might take about 30-45 seconds to complete. This way I get the best of both worlds and baby I know what its worth (sorry, excited for the oct. 22nd van halen concert.)


TUT matters, but I use a the fastest possible tempo and I base it on the number of reps I want to do. I got my best strength gains doing that. I used a slow eccentric before and it was great for size gains.


It definitely matters but so does lifting heavy. The key is to get the best out of both. I believe these two methods are very different and I have not had good results whenever I totally took heavy lifting out of my program even for a few weeks. I like to incorporate both throughout the week.

This is definitely dependent on the person though, as some people can get quite a bit of muscle from doing minimal higher TUT work, while others, myself included get very little muscle from pure heavy lifting.


Agreed. This is pretty much how I time most of my training. Explosive concentric and controlled, but not actually slow eccentric. Sometimes I'll slow it down some, especially if I don't feel I'm getting optimal recruitment somewhere. I'll be more deliberate to try n pin down where I'm missing it.



Many of the best size builders have the worst TUT relatively, and many of the worst have the highest. Nautilus machines and cable exercises have very high TUT, yet for most people they are not going to build the most mass.

Also, one could have extremely high TUT or efficient TUT using isometrics, yet not build very much of anything except strength in that particular range of motion.

TUT IMO is an example of correlation being assigned causality.