T Nation


Does anyone know of any studies that examine the effects of time under tension and muscle growth/strength? After watching the WSB tapes and some of the bigger guys in my gym I’m starting to doubt it’s as important as some people make it out to be.

Remember the Westside boys do some repetition work for hypertrophy, also. I’ve used the system, and have gained muscular size off of it. I think one important reason, is the variety of exercises. How many people really do reverse hypers, glute ham raises, floor presses, JM preses etc. They also have a neat way of doing extensions involving shoulder extension.

I do remember hearing about a study on a bird, with a weight tied to its wing for some set amount of time. After they took the weight off, the wing was I think twice as big as the other one. As for WSB, sure you’ll probably gain some size, but it is a training method for strength, not size. Even louie simmons said that if you lift the weigth slow, you will only build muscle and not increase your strength.

The Westsiders certainly do have some interesting and novel training techniques, but remember that if you are an inherently fast twitch individual (as I would guess most of the Westsiders are) you will respond very well to low TUT training. And Simmons doesn’t train just anybody from what I understand. He picks and chooses his athletes from among the very best. And I’m willing to bet that these guys all have a genetic make-up that allows them to make good size gains on power training methods. Another example of this would be to look at any of the World’s Strongest man competitors.
Bottom Line: if your genetics make you inherently fast twitch, you will respond very well to Westside methods. But, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t gain even more size if you followed an approach geared more towards inducing hypertrophy. Take a good look at Poliquin if you want an example…

Doug, go to the Deepsquatter website and read the article on myths of WSB.

If the fast twitch theory were true, the west side guys would be doing low rep work to build muscle. (All lat and upper back is done for mass to support the lifter during the bench, not for strength.) Instead they do higher rep work to build mass. You should also note the only time they really do low rep work is during the first exercises on the max and dynamic days, and the dynamic days only use ~50-60%. Also, I don't ever recall TUT being a factor in fast vs. slow twitch fibers. I've never read fast twitch people don't have as much of a need for prolonged eccentric tempos.

The bird experiment kinda sounds like bull shit (no flame intended), and doesn't prove anything about TUT, let alone TUT in humans training with weights. I didn't intend for this thread to focus around WSB -- I was just using it as an example. I'm not trying to be argumentative with everyone; I'm just starting to question something that I personally haven't seen proven to me.

Jeff, I’m well versed on Westside training methods, thanks. I’m not quite sure I understand your point… You say that you don’t think that TUT is important for hypertrophy, yet you recognize that the Westside guys do higher rep training for their backs which gives them such outstanding levels of hypertrophy there. Wouldn’t that lead you to believe that higher rep (read longer TUT) is important for hypertrophy? Maybe I’m missing something here…

As for the fast twitch theory, I nor anyone one else ever said that a fast twitch person would perform low reps for hypertrophy. What I said was, that a person who is fast twitch will consequently make gains in muscle size on low reps because of the dominance of anaerobic motor units. And the fact remains that the Westside Barbell guys would be bigger if they followed a training regimine geared towards inducing hypertrophy. But that’s not what they want.

The bottom line here is this... Time Under Tension is a variable that you can manipulate to focus your training towards either strength or hypertrophy, or a combination of the two. (take compensatory acceleration as an example) Louis Simmons and his athletes recognize this, and they focus their training on strength or hypertrophy solely based on the impact it will have on their squat, deadlift, and bench poundages.

Doug, if you’ve watched the videos, you’ll notice that when the westside guys do work for their upper backs they do very fast reps. Doing 10 reps in 20 seconds (or less) is not much TUT, and certainly not enough compared to some of the prescribed TUT by some strength coaches.

My question is very simple. Has is ever been proven that doing, for example, ten reps at 5020 versus ten reps at 1010 is more efficient at producing muscle gains?

Well, as I said before, the lower Time Under Tension may have more of an impact with these guys given their genetic make-up, but I guess you don’t want to believe me.

No, I don’t know of any specific studies which examine the effects of longer TUT vs. shorter TUT on hypertrophy, but you may be able to find a study which compares number of repetitions to recruitment patterns.

I think you raise an interesting point, and I would tend to agree with you that number of repetitions performed is also a factor as is TUT. In other words, a chin up performed on an 8080 would have very different effects than 4 chins performed on a 3010, yet their TUTs are the same. See my article on tempo for more info on this.

Sorry, I forgot to mention one very crucial thing: Simmons relies heavily on anabolics, and this no doubt influences the ability of his athletes to gain muscle mass regardless of their training protocol. Exactly to what extent he uses them I don’t know, but I’d guess they play a major role.

Overall, I think Westside training methods are absolutely fantastic. I don't necessarily agree with everything they do or promote, but then again my focus is not on powerlifting.

i think you guys should remember that TUT is a generalization ment to be applied to bodybuilding in general.

The guys at westside, and powerlifters in general, would seem to be inherently fast twitch individuals, because being highly fast twitch will make you exceed at sports that require high output, low duration, high intensity work.

Back to my point, TUT is a generalization, and exceptions to generalizations can always be pointed out. Citing that westside methods defy TUT and still work for some, doesn't disprove the effectiveness of TUT.

I know of no studies which show that 10 reps at 5020 will elicit greater hypertrophy than 10 reps at 1010 in a given excersize, but there seems to be empirical evidence for it.

A somewhat common sense arguement for TUT might go along the lines of: hypertrophy is a response to the damage you inflict to the muscle through weightlifting, and the more damaage you do the greater supercompensation (to a point of course, 100 sets will kill you). So if you spend 10 seconds TUT on a set you will be doing less damage to the muscle than 50 seconds TUT.

I was just looking at the archives of WeightsNet where Mel Siff and a few others were questioning the importance of the prescribed tempos that Poliquin and King use.

As I said, after watching a few large indiviuals working out, and seeing results (or lack thereof) in myself when using specified tempos, I am really starting to doubt the effectiveness of long eccentrics. Everyone seems to be touting it as fact because when you do the math, it only seems right that more muscle damage should occur, and since more muscle damage occurs, there's more muscle growth. While it may pan out well logically, I have not ever seen it pan out in the real world. I would ask anyone using training based on longer eccentrics to start using shorter ones and see if you notice any difference. If you do, then I'll probably have to go back and try it myself under a more controlled environment, however, I would wager you won't.

I think you are overlooking the fact that you can handle heavier weights with the faster tempo. This makes the negatives, even though performed faster, sufficiently stressful. Repping with maximal explosion also helps push back the GTI threshold allowing more efficient neurological adaptation. There are places for both methods in your training. I think always performing very slow negatives will shortchange you in regards to tendon strength and explosive reactive strength though.

Wow, this post gets more ridiculous with each reply. Let me see if I’ve got this straight… You’re not making much progress, and you go to the gym and see big guys who don’t use as controlled a lifting speed as you do, so you assume that your lack of progress is due to your lifting speed… that about right?

No offense, but that's about the stupidest argument I've ever heard. If you're not making progress, there's a reason Jeff, and it ain't your lifting speed. See if you can answer these questions for me...

Are you gorging yourself at every opportunity with high quality foods?

Are you getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night?

Are you drinking a gallon of water a day?

Are you sticking to your plan and never missing workouts?

Do you record each and every thing you stuff down your pie hole and every rep you do?

If you can honestly answer yes to all these questions and you're still not growing, well my friend, you are an absolute genetic anomoly. Notice that none of those questions I asked you involve anything to do with tempo, or even the specific program your following. The truth is, the program your on isn't as important as doing each one of the above. Tempo is only a variable, that's all. And it's certainly not the most important element to success in a training program. If you follow a sound approach in all other categories and don't give a shit about the speed that you lift the weight, you'll get bigger. You may be more prone to injury and progress at a slower pace, but you'll get bigger.

I suggest that you thoroughly evaluate your lifestyle Jeff. If you do, I'm very confident that you'll find a weak point, or even several weak points. Fix these, and you'll start making progress, I guarantee it. And if you don't want to take advantage of the benefits of manipulating your lifting speed, don't. But I can tell you with 100% certainty that you'll wish you had.

One last thing, I'm not sure how new you are to the game, but don't expect the gains to come too quickly. Stick to an approach for a good twelve weeks before you decide whether or not the approach worked for you.

Doug, I never said I wasn’t growing. I said I never noticed a difference between using a program that uses longer tempos versus using a program that uses shorter tempos. You misunderstood. No offense, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do. (Now I hope you should realize how foolish that type of statement sounds.)

It's like you're taking personal offense to the fact that I'm doubting the benefits of longer eccentric tempos. Does that make me stupid? No. Am I wrong? Perhaps.

I've seen no valid scientific proof, and I've seen no valid proof from my own expierences, yet I'm supposed to embrace this training method? How is that stupid?

Matt makes a good point. Using shorter tempo allows you to use more weight. Another point: if you lower the weight with a quicker eccentric, you'll be able to do more reps. So what's more important, more reps or slower eccentric? I don't know. And since I could go either way, and I have not been provided with any real life examples where longer eccentrics result in more muscle mass, than I would TEND to believe that longer eccentrics is less effective than using more weight, or the same weight for more reps, two things which IN MY EXPIERENCE do make a difference.

You have been condescending since I made the first post of this thread. I've made no outrageous claims. You've said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," and come off to be, for lack of a better term, an asshole. You've provided NO scientific proofs and made no claims that longer eccentric training does make a difference in your own training. The only thing you've done is attacked me.

As I said: If there is no evidence of any sort that I have seen to support something, why would I believe it? If if and when I do "see the light" I will gladly admit I am wrong. Until then, I'll continue to question such things.

Others have been asked to provide proof of the benefits of prescribed tempos and they have resorted to the exact same thing you did: condescending remarks, and no proof.

Well Jeff, I guess we just disagree then. No, I’m sorry I can’t quote you any direct studies on TUT versus hypertrophy. I also can’t quote you any studies which look at rest intervals versus complete neural recovery, but it doesn’t stop me from theorizing as to their relationship. As to my being condescending, you’re plain wrong. If you go back and read our posts, you are the first one to make an assinine remark as to me needing to go back and read up on Westside training methods. You posted a question that basically says “Is tempo important?” I gave you honest and direct feedback, nothing more.

My opinion is of course that manipulating tempo can yield better, faster, and safer results than not. I’ve witnessed this in the people I’ve trained and in myself.

that is what i see here.
Saying that TUT doesn’t seem to work for you or some guys in your gym doesn’t mean anything, besides it doesn’t work for you select people.
Stop trying to make an absurd generalization based on limited scope experience.

20 - 70 seconds TUT= greatest muscle mass gains — 20 seconds or less= maximal strength gains ( GENERALLY)

Read all of Louie’s articles; they are available for purchase. Then get Supertraining. Then read it. Get enough protein, rest, stretch regularly to keep up flexibilty. Stop worry about TUT, your rear delt, your outer head of your calf. Just get on a good program, which there are plenty available at Tmag, then lift for God’s sake. When you can squat or deadlift in the range of 275- 315 for 20 to 25 good reps. This post reminds me of a bunch of weeny scientist types arguing about arcane matters that don’t matter. Be brilliant at basics before you become brilliant at the science. Doing matters. Learning is great, but as Louie himself once said, “stop spending so much time on the internet, read and lift.” Here ends the lesson.
Remeber folks training is a problem solving excursion that always is changing. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.