and……why is TUT so Important for Building Muscle?
Apart from something Grandma used to say….tut,tut,tut, TUT is a commonly used term in the bodybuilding industry and it stands for ‘time under tension.’
It refers to the duration of time your muscles are under tension while they’re being worked.
And one of the things I like about the TUT method of resistance training is it is suitable for both young and old as it helps slow you down and makes you think more about your form which results in fewer injuries.
I use it for all my Active Ageing over 60’s clients who have all come to understand now why strength training is so important as you start aging.
So for an example of Time Under Tension, if you’re doing a barbell squat, the time it takes for you to squat halfway down and go back up again is the time under tension.
The moment you lock your knees and stand straight, your quads are not being worked, and get a temporary relief of a second or two before you do the next rep.
If you don’t lock your knees in the eccentric motion of the exercise before proceeding to the next rep, your thigh muscles will still be engaged continuously.
This increases the muscle time under tension and will recruit more muscle fibres in the exercise.
Your thighs will feel like they’re burning because there is no brief respite for the muscles. They’re constantly under tension. This will really encourage muscle growth and take your workout to the next level.
When training using TUT, you must pace your reps.
Ideally, you should aim for around 10 to 12 reps within 40 seconds to a minute or even longer as you become stronger. By the time you reach your last rep, you should be maxing out and not able to do another rep with good form.
So your exercise set may look something like this; you do the concentric motion (raising the weight) of the exercise for 3 seconds followed by the eccentric motion (lowering the weight) for 4 to 5 seconds.
There should be no pause and no lockout between your reps so to get out a full set you will find you’ll have to drop your weight back a bit.
For example, when doing a bicep curl, you will not lock your elbow when you lower the weight. So, your bicep will still be working even at the lowest point of the move. When raising the dumbbell up, you’ll want to avoid having your arms perpendicular to the ground.
When your arm is perpendicular to the ground, the biceps gets a rest. Aiming for an 85-degree angle should be just fine.
This applies to most other exercises too. Do not lock out when doing a bench press. When doing lying triceps curls, your elbows should be slightly behind your eye line. This will place constant tension on your triceps.
At the bottom of the page is a link to the SuperSlow method first introduced by Ken Hutchins. I find it is a good changeup to do once every week to ten days as it takes the boredom away from your normal program.
Once you get comfortable with the Hutchins method the timing for your sets will be 10 seconds each way (up and down).
You should also focus on your form.
Avoid jerky movements. You want to make the mind-muscle connection and ‘feel’ the muscle working.
Focus is important when lifting weights. Sacrificing form just to lift more weight is pure vanity and will not help you improve building muscle mass.
If you can’t reach your 10 to 12 reps, lower the weight a little and work with a lighter weight.
Ideally, you should start with your weights at about 60% of your one-rep max and lower the weight from there. These drop sets will be exhausting but over time, you’ll develop the strength and stamina to lift heavier weights.
You should be aware that using time under tension in your training will mean that in most cases, you’ll do fewer reps than you’re normally able to do.
The slow reps are much more tiring and painful to execute. You may also be very sore during the first week of training because your body is adapting. It does take a bit of time. That was my experience anyway when I started using the TUT method but the gains have been worthwhile.
Over time, you will get used to it and find that you’ll make a significant improvement in your muscle mass which will keep the sarcopenia symptoms at bay.
Always remember to train with weights that are challenging and to focus on form and tempo.
It is well documented that time under tension is a very powerful muscle-building technique for increasing your strength and muscle size but you shouldn’t confuse TUT with the Super Slow method of resistance training introduced a number of years ago by Ken Hutchins.
If you are looking for a way to vary your routine occasionally then give Super Slow a try……..I guarantee you will be sore the next day. I know I was!
Like to know more about Super Slow Weight Training then have a read of this article: Want More Strength? Slow it Down.
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
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