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  • Sarah Louise & Bill Wynne

Do time under tension (TUT) workouts build more muscle?

We’re all curious when it comes to workout techniques that might speed up our muscle gains. One method in particular has been gaining a lot of popularity recently. Time under tension (also called TUT) is a method where you slow down your reps and therefore put the muscle under more strain than usual.

While it’s always great to add something new to your workouts every once in a while, time under tension might not be for everyone. In this article we’re going to break down what time under tension is, what the benefits are and how to implement it 👇🏼

Do time under tension (TUT) workouts build more muscle?

What is 'time under tension'?

Time under tension refers to the amount of time a muscle is held under tension during an exercise. It forces your muscles to work harder and for longer than a normal repetition, and can for many people increase their muscle gains over time.

Let’s take an example: instead of it taking around 2 seconds to perform a squat, you take about 4 seconds lowering into your squat, pause at the bottom for 2 seconds and then power up - therefore taking a total of 6-7 seconds to perform a squat.

It might not sound like the biggest difference, but doing this regularly for certain exercises will absolutely be the progressive overload you need to build more muscle.

6 benefits of time under tension workouts

If you’re more experienced with lifting weights, applying time under tension can be an incredible addition to your workouts!

Here are 6 benefits of these slower reps:

  1. You can practice technique - slowing down makes you more mindful of the movement and your breathing.

  2. It offers greater muscle control and core engagement, leading to a stronger core long term.

  3. If you don’t like lifting heavy weights, this is a great way to still have effective workouts without increasing the weight.

  4. If you’re recovering from an injury and shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights just yet, this allows you to get the same strain on your muscle with lighter weights.

  5. If you’re an experienced lifter and struggle to add more weight to an exercise, this is a great way to add progressive overload.

  6. It adds variety to your workout and by targeting muscles differently reduces chances of plateauing.

Tip! Never take technique for granted, however advanced you are. Being conscious of technique through TUT helps reduce the risk of injuries while maximising your reps. Win-win.

Do time under tension (TUT) workouts build more muscle?

3 ways to implement time under tension

Let’s look at 3 types of reps you can easily work the TUT method into. Chances are you’re probably already using them for some of your exercises!

  • Slow reps: Decrease the pace of a rep in both the down and up movement. Try these with lunges for lower body, or push ups for upper body.

  • Pause reps: Stop mid-rep and pause for 1-3 seconds. Try with squats for lower body, or pull ups or pushups for upper body and core.

  • Eccentric reps (also known as negative reps): Slow the pace in the lowering phase of a rep but perform in a regular pace on the up movement. Try these with deadlifts or squats for lower body, or benchpress or pull ups for upper body.

Things to consider when adding time unde tension to your workouts

Implementing time under tension works best as a complementary method, not an all-out replacement. Let’s look at a few simple ways to introduce them.

  • As a maximum, use them in 2-4 exercises per workout - they’re tough going.

  • Consider your workout split. If it’s a full body session, choose 1 upper body exercise and 1 lower body exercise to introduce it.

  • Like we said, time under tension workouts are fantastic for technique improvement, so implement it with exercises you want to improve the form of.

  • Lower the weights you’re working with, you’re working yourself harder this way so weights will feel much heavier.

  • Speak with a Personal Trainer on how you can best incorporate time under tension for your specific fitness goals.

Do time under tension (TUT) workouts build more muscle?
With the Trainn app your workouts are perfectly designed for you and your fitness goals with progressions every week

Conclusion: is time under tension worth it?

While it might not be a muscle-building miracle, there are plenty of amazing benefits to introducing time under tension to your workouts - especially if you’re a more experienced lifter and need to challenge your muscles in new ways.

It’s tough and definitely not for beginners, so make sure you apply it to the right exercises and with a weight you feel comfortable with.

Working with a personal trainer not only means safely implementing these techniques, but also unlocking other tools for keeping your workouts moving forward.

If time under tension isn’t for you, but you’re still looking or a way to increase your muscle-building gains, the trainn app is an incredible alternative - when you sign up you get your own personalised training plan with progressions every week to keep your muscles challenged.

Click below to start your 14 day free trial with trainn. We promise you, you’ll be sore the next day 😁


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