Sometimes, personal trainers use terms that you may or may not understand. It can be a little embarrassing to ask questions (even though we highly recommend that you do so!). For this reason, Plunkett Fitness wants to help aspiring fitness buffs understand what “time under tension” means because you have probably heard the term slung around the gym a few different times.
What is Time Under Tension?
It seems that this topic is very misunderstood in the training world! First, it is important to understand that time under tension is a way of calculating the total amount of work you put on a specific muscle. Specifically, it is the total time a muscle is required to resist weight during each set. To better understand the concept, here is an example. You are curling a 40-pound barbell. It takes you three seconds to curl the weight up and three seconds to lower it back down. In this instance, your time under tension is six seconds per rep. If you do ten reps at this pace, your total time under tension for the set is 60 seconds.
The ideal time under tension changes based on personal goals. For maximizing strength, the ideal time under tension is 20 seconds or less. If you want to gain muscle mass, idea time under tension is at least 40 seconds. For muscle endurance, ideal time under tension is at least 70 seconds.
Incorporating Time Under Tension into Your Workout
Time under tension is pretty easy to incorporate into your workout because it just requires a timer. When most people are just getting started in fitness, they lift weights pretty quickly. However, by increasing the amount of time each lift takes, you can build more muscle. It is important that you know what your goals are before incorporating time under tension into your workout so that you can make each lift last the appropriate amount of time.
It is also important that you try to keep your lifts at a steady tempo. It might help you to watch the clock when you are first getting started. You also want to spend more time on the part of the lift that elongates the muscle. This part of the lift is where the most muscle growth occurs, so this is where you should spend your time. It also means that you should spend less time on the easier parts of the lift.
Having proper form is essential to this strategy being beneficial. If fatigue starts to set in and your form becomes compromised, your muscles aren’t going to get the benefits you expect from this type of exercise. This means that you might need to decrease the weight of your lifts to be able to complete the exercise as necessary. You should, however, us weights that are at least 60 percent of your one-rep max weight.
Even if you aren’t actively timing your reps, the important thing here is to remember that you should go slowly during the challenging part of the lift and more quickly during the easier parts of the lift. When you start to get tired, you are more likely to try to speed up the process to help combat the fatigue. This will not help you see the results that you are looking for. If you tend to speed up as you go through your workout, you might want to get a partner or trainer that can help you keep the appropriate tempo.
Remember that incorporating time under tension into your workouts will likely lead to soreness for the first week or two. Ice and rest can help you make it through.
If you are looking to start incorporating time under tension into your workout routine, but need help getting started, a personal trainer may be the best route. Plunkett Fitness has personal trainers that are dedicated to helping you reach your goals. During a consultation, we can determine what your ideal time under tension will be and help you incorporate these workouts into your routine. To get started, give us a call today at 913-390-3360.