A time under tension junkie decloaks and fires a couple of photon torpedoes in my direction:
Wow! You are a either a complete fool or a narcissist. I love how you dismiss time under tension as something people should NOT focus on but, you provide no proof, studies or research/theories. I can only surmise that you a bro science type of meathead trainer. I have been taught Principals of time under tension since 1997!!! And I know close to a dozen trainers who use them.,trainers who hold no less then a Masters degree. I have been a CPT trainer for 23 Years and have spent 22 years using this key tool in my lifting and my clients with great success. It’s a shame your too pig headed to attempt to learn something new that may show you that YOUR principal’s are not the only things that are important.
I would love to debate you but, reading the things that you write I am sure that debate would be as complex as talking to a 2 year old.
When people talk about time under tension, they’re usually referring to the amount of time your muscles are working during a set.
The standard advice is that to maximize strength gains, the ideal time under tension is about 20 seconds or less; to build muscle, it’s at least 40 seconds; and for muscle endurance, it’s at least 70 seconds.
When I first read about time under tension in the late 1990’s, it seemed to make perfect sense.
And, being one of those people with a tendency to obsess over small (and often pointless) details, I invested a lot of time and effort in trying to follow the TUT guidelines as closely as possible.
I used a metronome to help me time the length of each rep. I read the books written by the “gurus” who promoted the idea. I secretly scoffed at the people using “antiquated” methods like sets and reps now that I had discovered “the secret” to packing on muscle.
All of which, for reasons I’m about to explain, was a complete waste of time.
First, the muscle-building stimulus generated by a given workout depends not just on the length of each set, but the total number of sets you do, the amount of weight you lift during those sets, as well as how hard you push yourself during each set.
In fact, there are plenty of studies out there to show that your muscles can be made to grow with heavy sets lasting less than 20 seconds or lighter sets lasting longer than 60 seconds.
The idea that you need to make a set last for a fixed amount of time has also led some people to believe that slower lifting speeds work better for muscle growth — which they don’t.
In fact, performing reps at a fixed speed of four seconds per rep versus a self-selected speed has been shown to decrease both muscle activation and training volume .
Researchers from the University of Sydney report that taking six seconds to do a dumbbell curl is no more effective for muscle growth than a rep lasting two seconds .
It was much the same story when Japanese scientists compared slow and fast lifting speeds . Reps lasting six seconds didn’t work any better than reps lasting three seconds for increasing muscle thickness or maximal strength.
A follow-up study, which involved squatting twice a week for six weeks, also shows no benefit to slowing down the eccentric, or lowering phase, of a rep . Subjects taking two seconds to raise the weight and four seconds to lower it didn’t grow any faster than lifters who lowered the weight in two seconds.
In a similar study, this time using the leg extension, reps lasting four seconds were no better for building muscle than reps lasting two seconds .
Rather than complicating your workouts, I’d suggest that you take the advice of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee and make them as simple as possible.
Bruce was a big fan of keeping things simple. In fact, he once said that the art of jeet kune do, the martial art he founded, was “simply to simplify.”
In building a statue, a sculptor doesn’t keep adding clay to his subject. Actually, he keeps chiseling away at the inessentials until the truth is revealed without obstructions. Jeet kune do doesn’t mean adding more. It means to minimize. In other words to back away from the inessentials. It is not a daily increase but a daily decrease.”Bruce Lee
Measuring TUT is one of those “inessentials” that you can easily forget about and still get great results.
The way that some people talk about TUT, you’d think it was an indisputable fact that’s been verified in numerous well-controlled studies.
However, I’ve seen nothing to convince me that basing your workouts on TUT guidelines works any better than using conventional loading parameters like sets and reps.
The numbers are based on the opinion of a few people and have been blindly accepted as “the truth” by a lot of people who should know better.
For a joint-friendly approach to building muscle that will let you gain without pain, take a look at my MX4 training program at the link below now:
Christian Finn, M.Sc.
Founder of Muscle Evo
1. Self-selected vs. Fixed Repetition Duration: Effects on Number of Repetitions and Muscle Activation in Resistance-Trained Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2018, 32, 2419-2424
2. Resistance training for strength: effect of number of sets and contraction speed. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2005, 37, 1622-1626
3. Effects of whole-body low-intensity resistance training with slow movement and tonic force generation on muscular size and strength in young men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2008, 22, 1926-1938
4. Effects of Prolonging Eccentric Phase Duration in Parallel Back-Squat Training to Momentary Failure on Muscle Cross-Sectional Area, Squat One Repetition Maximum, and Performance Tests in University Soccer Players Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2018, 10, 1519
5. Effects of resistance training with controlled versus self-selected repetition duration on muscle mass and strength in untrained men. PeerJ, 2020, 8, e8697