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What is 'time under tension' training?


Time under tension (or TUT for short) is commonly used in strength and conditioning and bodybuilding. Essentially, it refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. A typical set of 10 reps for an average lifter will take anywhere from 15-25 seconds depending on lifting speed. By putting a muscle under longer bouts of strain, you can cause extensive muscle breakdown leading to sleeve-busting muscles.


1. Beware the lockout.

Avoid spending long amounts of time during the easiest portion of an exercise (at the top of a bench press for instance). The easiest part of a lift presents the least amount of stress on your muscles.


2. Try to maintain a steady tempo.

A typical tempo in seconds for each rep during a set would be 2/4/0 (lifting, lowering, pause).


3. Spend more time on the eccentric portion of the movement.

That refers to the lowering portion when your muscle is slowly elongating. Slowing down the eccentric portion of the lift causes more muscle damage and hence encourages more growth.

4. Focus on form.

With the longer sets, fatigue will set in and compromise form. Make sure you don’t cheat yourself and miss out on gains by breaking form or doing partial reps.


5. Use drop sets to help you.

Struggling to finish off those last few reps, drop down in weight and immediately continue the exercise. You’ll last the entire duration of the set and won’t need to cheat to get through it.


6. Maintain a high intensity.

Simply lifting till the buzzer doesn’t guarantee increases in size. The weight and exercise need to be challenging enough to cause muscle fatigue towards the end of the set. Use at least 60% of your 1-rep max for a lift to maximize gains.


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