T Nation

Time Under Tension


Is it consecutive time-under-tension, or accumulative? should each set be a certain length of time, or should the entire workout equal a certain amount of "time under tension"? For instance, many exercises, i cant get the 30-70seconds under tension for each set, and dont believe my form lacks [although maybe because i cant get the right t-u-t, that is considered form and i really am lacking:) ]

I superset many lifts except for "heavy" ones like bench, squat, dead, etc. but <30 seconds between 2 exercises, then a minute or so after one superset. after one superset, it feels as though i had been "under tension" the whole time.. not sure if im making any sense.

i can easily get the reps while following good form, basically for push exercises "quick up, control down" 1-2 second push, 3 second down.
Does this mean i should decrease the weight to achieve the optimal time under tension?

shootin for hypertrophy following a westside program by Joe defranco.

feedback, or point me to the article i missed, thanks


You might be majoring in the minors


This ^^^ although I understand what you are saying.

This is why stuff like deadstop movements, rest pause among other things are good techniques. They give the time under tension factor while maintaining a relatively heavy load.


i see what your saying, i may be thinking too much, but in a quest for perfection, all questions should be asked. haha


LOL "time under tension", what a STUPID concept. I have always thought it was ridiculous.


I remember MODOK said once that he did a little experiment, something like 5 reps 6 seconds per rep vs 10 reps 3 seconds per rep (you get the idea, these figures are not exact).

He said he could do the same load for each technique. I have found the same to be true.

Me, i'd lower the rep speed on movements where I have weaker MMC, and focus on contraction.
On movements where i'm good at recruiting the muscle, i'd rather the latter method (more reps, less TUT per rep)


You do know that we have an easier way of monitoring this sort of thing?

They're called reps



cumulative for each movement is how I use the term
I also only mention the term when I'm trying to show someone that 10x3 is not a dumb workout plan and I'm comparing it to 3x10. So I guess I am describing volume


so by obtaining volume, no need to consider time under tension? because i definitely have volume to my workouts, but would say time under tension is still not "optimal" according to the proponents of time under tension


Personally I put on muscle well by just doing a high volume/speed day and a max effort low volume day, each once a week. I ignore TUT


i follow a similar routine, and make gains as well. but it couldnt hurt to attempt to better my workout. if it aint broke dont fix it, sure, but cars add superchargers, and cakes add frosting.


I don't really subscribe to the time under tension principle but every lift I do I'm squeezing the muscle as hard as possible, getting a very good stretch and really squeezing that peak contraction. I don't use any momentum. My weights drop considerably doing this, my reps are slower but for me it works much better for developing my physique.

For instance, say you throw 300 lbs on the pulldown machine. You use momentum to get it started and you can only pull down to around nose level before the weight comes back up. How much do you really think you are stimulating the huge number of muscle fibers that make up your back?

Conversely, drop the weight to 220 lbs. Begin the movement in a smooth movement with your lats, bring the bar much closer to your chest and squeeze that peak contraction hard then end the movement with a controlled negative.

For me at least, option 2 does a lot more for me than option 1. I guess you could say it focus more on TUT but while the reps are slwower it's nothing insane like 30+ seconds per rep.


Every time I see a big dude write this, I think "yeah you do that NOW..."

The point being you may not ever have made it to doing 220 lbs with good form if you didn't work up to 300lbs with looser form first.

Of course I am only asking what you think here, not trying to tell you how it is. lol


If I had known how to traing this way effectively I would have. I cared a lot more about strength on all my lifts up until around 6 months ago. Now, I don't really give a shit as long as I'm stimulating the muscle. There's still a focus on progression but I'm not adding weight each session like I used to.

There's no reason to think that progression using good form is less than that of loose form. Just because I handled 300 lbs at one time doesn't mean anything. It's not like momentum and body english use progression, you either use them or you don't. Of course the weights you use will be greater when you cheat, it doesn't mean you're stronger though.

The thing I like about TUT is it forces you to not just "lift the weight", you're actually having to focus really hard on the target muscles to make reps slower.

It just seems like the natural order that like you said big guys start out using heavy weights, body english momentum etc and then end up later doing something like I do. IMO that's just part of the learning process and figuring out how to train in the most efficient way possible. So yah, you're pretty much right on with that. There's really no way for a beginner or intermediate guy to get much out of this training style but I think at some point the transition has to be made, at least for BBing purposes.


The fact that one has to simultaneously progress in both feel AND poundage to build muscle is what makes this whole thing interesting, imo. Not only do you have to go heavier today than last time, you should also execute the movement in a way to better train your target muscle. Improving feel is not as easily quantifiable as weight, but it certainly counts as progress. Shit if you never made the effort to get a good connection with your traps, you may have to deadlift 800lbs before they look decent. lol


Hey Way,

I need to get in touch with you about some PT and Chiro questions I have for our area. Been to a few around here and I am wasting my f&*kin money. [/hijack]


TUT principles are widely neglected, but indeed are a viable training tool. Drop, extended, giant sets, etc. are all used to extend TUT. Manipulating tempo is a mere tool, its not the end all be all...and neither is it useless.

If you've never taken time to lower your weights for 5 seconds on every rep of every set for X number of reps, you're missing an effective training tool.
If you've always just lifted the weight and never lifted it as fast as possible, you're missing out on an important training variable.


If I could some how subscribe to your posts, I would.


not per rep, its 30+ per set i believe. But i get what you've said in your other replies, and do the same thing for the most part, work on the "neural" connection, focusing in on which muscles im supposed to be using for a lift, and using them. Suppose i'll just keep on doin' what i'm doin since it sounds like i've found a decent plan. thanks way

I have followed the same "heavy" lifts for the better part of a year, picking one of the two per week/day in my 5-day split (chest,legs,back,legs,arms)

BB bench, and DB bench for upperbody push
Lat pull/ Pull ups upper body pull
Squat/ Deads lower body

Is there a need to "change" the exercise? I mean, should i be picking a different exercise to base my day off of? for instance, I'd pick DB bench then do a bunch of upper body push/pull accessories for hypertrophy after doing heavy-sets of the DB bench. I know the body becomes "used" to a routine, by i feel like a bench variation is the foundation to an upperbody/chest workout... if that makes sense


Good posts

I thought this thread was more about time under tension rather than target muscle tension, but I guess like Way said, if you're more aware of peak contraction/pace etc it naturally lends itself to better stimulation.

Personally, my tension quality ALWAYS goes to ruin sooner or later, it's just a matter of time (maybe it's my personality? Too eager?) don't know why but it happens. This is when I kind of integrate my de-load in with better TUT. That is, reach a sloppy peak...drop the loads a little and focus on quality more, until it gets sloppy again and repeat.