T Nation

Time Under Tension

So a few years back, when i first really became aware of this, it seemed simple. And very interesting. And it made sense.

But now i am not so sure.

So, (bear with me here…) what ARE the specific TUT numbers for:

Pure Strength
Hypertrophy
Muscular Endurance

I had them at around:

Pure Strength - 1-10secs
Hypertrophy - 40-60secs
Musc. Endurance - 60+

Now this seems simple, but then i started counting my tempo’s to find out MY TUT. I realised that my reps are fast, much faster than the “recognised hypertrophy optimum” which is something ridiclous like 3012 or something… this (to me) is like saying hypertrophy IS 8-12 reps… and done.

My rep tempo was more like 1001, or if i was really focusing on the negative 2101, DL and Squat have no/fast eccentric so thay come somewhere the same… maybe more for the conc. and conc. pause… so, 2012 for those exercises maybe.
The rep range i use which is best FOR ME is around 5-9 reps.

So, with my AVERAGE tempo - about 3 seconds, and my maximum rep range of 9, 3x9 = 27. I dont even reach the hypertrophy range!!
In fact, to reach the hypertrophy range in the standard 8 reps, you’d need a tempo of 5 seconds! But then i often have differing rep ranges in the same day, so for chest, 3 exercises: 4-6reps, 6-8reps, 8-10reps. To cover all my bases, inc strength AND hypertrophy.
Does this mean i am only getting any benefit muscle wise from my last exercise as that is the higher TUT?

The point is, where do you fall on the TUT scale, and is that where you would like to be?

What DO YOU think the real TUT scale is, because it sure as shit ain’t this one!

Do you (as i suspect) have a fast-ish rep speed, or do you do it slow on all 4 points? I’d hope not, being a fan of T-Nation we are all going to be exploding through the concentric to recruit as many motor units as possible!

But how slow do you do the Ecc, and what kind of pauses do you employ?

We all believe in TUT of course, (or do we?!) but tell me what your variables are and what you aim for as a rule.

Now, i know you ALL use varying tempo’s, reps, etc… but we all have a comfort zone which we drift back to eventually. So that is what i am looking for i guess your NORMAL, regular training zone, with the most focus on achieving the goal you most desire - be that more strength, mass etc…

I hope this post makes sense, i know i can be a bit “all over the place”… :wink:

Thanks!

Joe

Personally I lift the weight as fast as possible (sometimes it will last 1 second, sometimes 10 seconds). I generally don’t pause at the top so that I can keep the tension on the muscle.

But then it comes down to the lift I’m doing for the eccentric portion. For instance, I don’t try to go down slowly on deadlifts (or any variation of them) and I generally don’t do it on back/front/single leg squats. But I will go down usually between 4-6 seconds on split squats, chins, pull-ups, cable rows (not BB rows), flies, bench, etc.

So I guess you could say my comfort zone is 104.

I had not thought about it but I will for you, Joe. I lift a bit slow, I guess; probably something like 313 for most lifts, with pause at top. I this is because of years of rehabing, for lack of a better term. I needed to feel the motion to see how it effected me more than push the heaviest all the time. When I started out I am pretty sure I lifted faster.

I do not know how important TUT is, quite honestly. A bit outside on the periphery for me.

I dont put any stock into TUT. I train in two styles and I alternate them.

1 is GVT, but a little modified, so I do a lot of reps.

2 is 4-6 reps for 4-8 sets. very little reps

my lifting style is explosive but at all times controlled. I’ve tried increasing the TUT once before and it didnt do jack shit and my strength gains came to a screatching halt. Not for me.

Hey joe,

Im glad you started this thread as its something ive been thinking a lot about lately.

Im about the same as you as far as rep speeds; 1 second up and about 2 seconds down. I usually try and apply force as fast as possible on the up; and then lower the wieght as fast as possible but not letting the wieght “drop”… in other words physically lowering the wieght if you no what i mean.

What this means is that even when i do 12 reps; i am still under 40 seconds for mass. However, i really like to lift on the heavy side (meaning 5 reps) which means im under 20 seconds of tut for me which isnt even enough to develop mass according to the “theory”.

I also must say when i do only 1 to 5 reps, i really dont feel like all the muscle has been worked. So ive been doing a lot of strip sets lately - For example, with bench, i start out very heavy only being able to do 1 or 2 reps; then strip some weights, and do another 1 or 2 reps and then keep going for almost a minute and half of tut. Thus, when one thinks about i am going through heavy for strengh, medium wieght for mass, and light wieght for endurance even though my tut under tension exceeds that for strengh and mass - but im not sure if there is any science to what i am doing or saying… but would love to here your theories.

TUT is over rated somewhat.

  1. I don’t believe in changing rep speed depending on goals.

  2. Ideal TUTs will vary from one individual to another.

  3. Long TUT protocols like super slow allow cheating by doing a longer negative than positive making the exercise easier.

  4. TUT is depedent of load. So I would focus on load and make sure form is good.

  5. I like to try to keep my rep speed constant and count reps.

  6. I find increasing TUT is a poor measure of progress for the same reasons as 3.

My approach has always been based on load. Pick a load that is heavy enough (say 80% of max) and do controlled reps with them. No need to time them. But focus on good form and no cheating (at least for the target reps). Sometimes you might want to do a few extra cheat reps using a little momentum or body sway.

My view is that an explosive rep will not work the same ROM and muscles as an slower rep. A slow rep is harder near the mid point. An explosive rep seems to work more the start and will probably bring in other body muscles to get that explosive push. So using TUT to compare slow with fast or explosive is not meaningful.

I used to really focus on TUT a while back. I would typically use either a 301, 401 or 311 tempo. However, I noticed that whenever I focused on TUT with higher rep sets, I had a tendency to focus too much on the TUT count and forget the rep count. Sometimes it would ruin the set for me. “Wait, was that my 5th rep or my 6th rep? Aw hell!”

These days, I’m more in the Waterbury camp as far as TUT is concerned. I don’t focus on it anymore. I lower the weight under control and try to lift it as fast as I can.

I’m not saying that TUT was a waste of time though as it really did help me improve on my form and I did make progress.

(Remember i am always coming from a hypertrophy standpoint, not gaining strength)

I agree goya… that was the point of the thread… to see how much people use-or rate TUT methods. I mean, time under tension is better the longer it is, if all weights were created equal… but they are not.

So is it better to lift heavier(80%1RM+) for a shorter time than lighter(75%1RM-) for a longer time?

I would go with heavier… to a degree…

I am currently doing a strength program (sorry dc!) ill show you back thickness day.

Deads x6; 1-3 reps.
Rack pulls x4; 3-6 reps
DB Rows x3; 4-8 reps
T Bar Row x2; 6-9 reps.

Barbell Curls x3; 6-9 reps
Hammer Curls x3; 6-9 reps

So i didnt get a pump until DB Rows.
I did chest today, a much easier muscle to pump… no pump until the 3rd exercise (same layout, less sets).

So IS heavier for a shorter time better regardless, or is heavier for the longest time the best, a-la DC style rest/pause. You’d think heavier for the longest time - OBVIOUSLY!

BUT what about Tate? He lost the fat, and has a phenomenal body under there! He is a powerlifter. LOW LOW TUT, Heavy arse weights… Maybe my/our chase of the pump is a bit fucking pointless. What do you think Mr Tate?

I begun DC recently and i loved it, but due to changing goals and a new found love of strength PR’s i changed it before i could assess it at all… so i will be doing this strength/hypertrophy hybrid for quite some time and i hope to make some muscular gains from it - especially as i am gonna be blowing up in strength!!
Low to low/medium TUT, but high high intensity.

Also, when i say TUT i do not mean tempo. I mean the total time the weight is lifted up and down for the duration of a set, so i dont necessarily mean timing the rep speed - that was just for an example - all i mean is, do any of you believe that a muscle hypertrophies in a certain total time the muscle is under tension? ie. 40 - 60 seconds.
I dont think it is up for debate that TUT is a fact and IS a variable… but is it the be all and end all, and what ARE the TUT times?!

Joe

[quote]AngryVader wrote:
I used to really focus on TUT a while back. I would typically use either a 301, 401 or 311 tempo. However, I noticed that whenever I focused on TUT with higher rep sets, I had a tendency to focus too much on the TUT count and forget the rep count. Sometimes it would ruin the set for me. “Wait, was that my 5th rep or my 6th rep? Aw hell!”

These days, I’m more in the Waterbury camp as far as TUT is concerned. I don’t focus on it anymore. I lower the weight under control and try to lift it as fast as I can.

I’m not saying that TUT was a waste of time though as it really did help me improve on my form and I did make progress.[/quote]

Absolutely agree… never try to count tempo while counting reps!!!

But i dont necessarily mean the tempo, but the total TUT for the set… it is important, and you are still putting the muscle under tension even though you are using Waterbury… you may not be counting or thinking about it - but you are! If you count reps, that is the general measurement of TUT. The control measurement is tempo… or something…

With Waterbury, do you NEVER EVER EVER go to failure then? Have you seen good or great gains from it? Do you think that if you got great gains from exhausting the fast twich like that, then going that step further to momentary muscular failure would exhaust more units and thus cause more growth?
I am really interested to know how it works in reality (without having to try it - failure is my friend!)

Joe

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
(Remember i am always coming from a hypertrophy standpoint, not gaining strength)

I agree goya… that was the point of the thread… to see how much people use-or rate TUT methods. I mean, time under tension is better the longer it is, if all weights were created equal… but they are not.

So is it better to lift heavier(80%1RM+) for a shorter time than lighter(75%1RM-) for a longer time?

I would go with heavier… to a degree…

I am currently doing a strength program (sorry dc!) ill show you back thickness day.

Deads x6; 1-3 reps.
Rack pulls x4; 3-6 reps
DB Rows x3; 4-8 reps
T Bar Row x2; 6-9 reps.

Barbell Curls x3; 6-9 reps
Hammer Curls x3; 6-9 reps

So i didnt get a pump until DB Rows.
I did chest today, a much easier muscle to pump… no pump until the 3rd exercise (same layout, less sets).

So IS heavier for a shorter time better regardless, or is heavier for the longest time the best, a-la DC style rest/pause. You’d think heavier for the longest time - OBVIOUSLY!

BUT what about Tate? He lost the fat, and has a phenomenal body under there! He is a powerlifter. LOW LOW TUT, Heavy arse weights… Maybe my/our chase of the pump is a bit fucking pointless. What do you think Mr Tate?

I begun DC recently and i loved it, but due to changing goals and a new found love of strength PR’s i changed it before i could assess it at all… so i will be doing this strength/hypertrophy hybrid for quite some time and i hope to make some muscular gains from it - especially as i am gonna be blowing up in strength!!
Low to low/medium TUT, but high high intensity.

Also, when i say TUT i do not mean tempo. I mean the total time the weight is lifted up and down for the duration of a set, so i dont necessarily mean timing the rep speed - that was just for an example - all i mean is, do any of you believe that a muscle hypertrophies in a certain total time the muscle is under tension? ie. 40 - 60 seconds.
I dont think it is up for debate that TUT is a fact and IS a variable… but is it the be all and end all, and what ARE the TUT times?!

Joe[/quote]

I think my last post missed your point a bit then, so let me add this:

When I focused more on rep tempo, I was doing it for hypertrophy and using the rep tempo to unsure the entire set was falling in that 40-60 second range. I did get bigger during this time.

However, I gained more size when I stopped focusing on rep tempo and TUT and just tried to lift heavier weights explosively. I’d say my TUT during this time was usually in the 10-15 second range.

Thanks Vader, that is the info i am looking for!

Weird huh?!

Joe

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
AngryVader wrote:
I used to really focus on TUT a while back. I would typically use either a 301, 401 or 311 tempo. However, I noticed that whenever I focused on TUT with higher rep sets, I had a tendency to focus too much on the TUT count and forget the rep count. Sometimes it would ruin the set for me. “Wait, was that my 5th rep or my 6th rep? Aw hell!”

These days, I’m more in the Waterbury camp as far as TUT is concerned. I don’t focus on it anymore. I lower the weight under control and try to lift it as fast as I can.

I’m not saying that TUT was a waste of time though as it really did help me improve on my form and I did make progress.

Absolutely agree… never try to count tempo while counting reps!!!

But i dont necessarily mean the tempo, but the total TUT for the set… it is important, and you are still putting the muscle under tension even though you are using Waterbury… you may not be counting or thinking about it - but you are! If you count reps, that is the general measurement of TUT. The control measurement is tempo… or something…

With Waterbury, do you NEVER EVER EVER go to failure then? Have you seen good or great gains from it? Do you think that if you got great gains from exhausting the fast twich like that, then going that step further to momentary muscular failure would exhaust more units and thus cause more growth?
I am really interested to know how it works in reality (without having to try it - failure is my friend!)

Joe[/quote]

I wouldn’t say that I never go to failure. Lets say I’m doing 8 x 3 for chins. Those last two sets are usually pretty close to failure or at failure. I never train with a spotter though, so I always have a little bit in the tank on those last few sets, but there are lots of times where there would be no way I could do another rep if I tried.

wow… i might give it another go then… little off (my) topic but…

I did it with romanian DL only… 8x3 with a 5RM.
It was too easy. That exercise is a strange one though, your lumbar can carry you through anything you load on it in the RDL.

I gonna try it… 1 exercise of 8x3 will fit into my existing program nicely at the moment (see above)

thanks!!

Joe

If you are lifting faster the muscles are under more tension, even if the weight is the same. So thats gotta count for something. Also, look at high level powerlifters, and weightlifters. They are fairly muscular, even if it is hard to tell on heavier(IE fatter) athletes, and they don’t worry about TUT, other than as fast as possible, be it with a huge weight or an easy weight.
I think getting enough to eat(protein, calories, fat etc) is more important than TUT to build size. Hypertrophy comes on a fork.

A while back I tried lifting for a timed set, meaning i didn’t worry about reps just lift for 60 seconds.

Some points I cam away from it

  1. It is almost impossible to accelerate reps throught the entire 60 seconds, its not going to happen by the end my reps became very slow

  2. the load needed is ridiculously low like 25%-30% of 1rm possibly because I was still trying to keep a piston like motion I guess if you wanted to start off with a slower motion throughout you could handle a little more load.

  3. I could only do 2 working sets per muscle group like this, they took a whole lot out of me.

  4. I don’t know if its a great training modality as your bread and butter, but they remind me a bit of a century set and could be used like one. See Thib’s HSS-100 for ways how.

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
AngryVader wrote:
I used to really focus on TUT a while back. I would typically use either a 301, 401 or 311 tempo. However, I noticed that whenever I focused on TUT with higher rep sets, I had a tendency to focus too much on the TUT count and forget the rep count. Sometimes it would ruin the set for me. “Wait, was that my 5th rep or my 6th rep? Aw hell!”

These days, I’m more in the Waterbury camp as far as TUT is concerned. I don’t focus on it anymore. I lower the weight under control and try to lift it as fast as I can.

I’m not saying that TUT was a waste of time though as it really did help me improve on my form and I did make progress.

Absolutely agree… never try to count tempo while counting reps!!!

But i dont necessarily mean the tempo, but the total TUT for the set… it is important, and you are still putting the muscle under tension even though you are using Waterbury… you may not be counting or thinking about it - but you are! If you count reps, that is the general measurement of TUT. The control measurement is tempo… or something…

With Waterbury, do you NEVER EVER EVER go to failure then? Have you seen good or great gains from it? Do you think that if you got great gains from exhausting the fast twich like that, then going that step further to momentary muscular failure would exhaust more units and thus cause more growth?
I am really interested to know how it works in reality (without having to try it - failure is my friend!)

Joe[/quote]

I almost never go to failure per the standard definition of true failure is… I like working certain movements for faster strength gains much more frequently which is damn nigh impossible when training to failure. But to each his own, I do intend to include my next cycle of training some training to failure, but as a whole, I dont make a habit of it.

[quote]OneMoreRep wrote:
A while back I tried lifting for a timed set, meaning i didn’t worry about reps just lift for 60 seconds.

Some points I cam away from it

  1. It is almost impossible to accelerate reps throught the entire 60 seconds, its not going to happen by the end my reps became very slow

  2. the load needed is ridiculously low like 25%-30% of 1rm possibly because I was still trying to keep a piston like motion I guess if you wanted to start off with a slower motion throughout you could handle a little more load.

  3. I could only do 2 working sets per muscle group like this, they took a whole lot out of me.

  4. I don’t know if its a great training modality as your bread and butter, but they remind me a bit of a century set and could be used like one. See Thib’s HSS-100 for ways how. [/quote]

Try westside style DE work, it looks easy on paper, but when you get around 4 or 5 sets it really gets harder(unless you are half-assing the reps). You could even cut the rest down to 30 or so seconds, instead of the 45-60 seconds that is recomended.

I dont mean tempo as a measure of TUT though, i mean time under tension. even powerlifters have SOME tut! They may not count the tempo… but neither do i. I count reps. That is TUT.

People seem to get confused between the two.

I am asking which is better for hypertrophy a lower TUT with higher weight, a higher tut with a HIGHER weight, or higher tut with lower weight? You would think the middle one as it is increasing both variables, the weight and Time.

But as you pointed out, Powerlifters have amazing hypertrophy with a low tut and a high weight, do people actually get the real hypertrophy we look for with the normal 8-12 reps falling in the 40-60 second range?? It doesnt look like it.

Whether someone uses tempo or counts reps doesnt matter- if a weight is lifted there is tut. whether it is noted or not.

If we got out of the habit of counting reps, even as low as 1. And we began timing our sets instead, what time should we aim for? for maximal hypertrophy, what length of time would the set, failing at the end, have to last? 20secs? 40secs? 20-30?

Joe

I wonder where strip sets fit into all this. And im not only coming from a tut issue; but also a rep issue as i start as heavy as i can (1 or 2 reps) and work until i have done some 12 to 20 reps.

main reason i use strip sets is i like to lift heavy; but feel my muscles also need more work than 1 or 2 reps (or even 5) in a set.

That IS a tut issue. A rep issue is also a tut issue.

That is more increased density of a workout i think… say 4, 5 or 6 sets condensed into one with minimal break, only reducing the weight as the rest is so short it fails to replenish energy systems.

Increased tut? not really… same work in less time? density.

What you reckon?