In recent years, the phrase time under tension has made its way around in the fitness industry.
Time under tension simply refers to the amount of time you put your muscle under tension during a set.
There has been much debate back and forth as to whether or not this type of training is effective for building muscle.
I’m not here to tell you whether you should do it, but instead, I want to bring to light what time under tension is and how it can be applied in your workouts!
What Is Time Under Tension
Let’s expand on our definition of time under tension.
When your muscle contracts to lift a weight, you are putting tension on that muscle. Time under tension is the amount of time during a workout that your muscle spends in a contracted state.
There are essentially two ways to increase your time under tension. There is a tempo method and a high-rep method.
With the tempo method, you use a timer to measure the actual length of each phase of each rep.
When it comes to the tempo method there are four phases: negative, pause, positive, pause (I’ll get more into this in just a minute).
The idea is to increase the amount of time you spend in one or more of these phases.
For example, if you are wanting to expand your time under tension on a chest press you will want to lengthen the time you spend bringing the weight down to your chest while keeping a fast tempo on the lifting phase.
This method of increasing time under tension gives you an overall time to perform an exercise rather than focusing on a tempo.
This usually has you perform a specific move from anywhere between 30 – 70 seconds.
They Both Work
Both of these methods serve the designated purpose of increasing the amount of time a given muscle is working.
For example, imagine that you perform 10 reps of an exercise and you take 10 seconds per rep, using slow, controlled form throughout the movement.
Then you perform the same exercise more quickly, only taking 2 seconds to perform each rep but you’re able to do 50 reps.
In each case, your muscle was under tension for a total of 100 seconds.