Building on my prior post on Tempo, Time Under Tension (TUT) is the next step in creating more targeted training programs. By having a goal TUT, we can target the specific training quality we want, whether it be power, strength, hypertrophy, or endurance.
Time under tension is, as it sounds, the amount of time you spend working against the exercise load. What is important to realize is that the exact repetition and set prescription can have drastically different stimuli depending on the tempo.
The general rule of thumb is that shorter sets with faster tempos will incur more neurological stimuli like speed, power, and relative strength. In comparison, longer sets will be more metabolic such as hypertrophy and buffering capacity.
Time Under Tension (TUT) Guidelines
- Power + Relative Strength
- 1 – 12 seconds
- Mostly Neurological
- Absolute Strength
- 12 – 25 seconds
- Neurological with some Hypertrophy
- Myofibril Hypertrophy
- 25 – 40s seconds
- Mostly Hypertrohpy – Actin and Myosin
- Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy
- 40-70 seconds
- Mostly Hypertrophy – Muscle Cross-Sectional Area
- >70 seconds
- Metabolic – Buffering capacity
Example – 5 Repetition Set
Typically, a five rep set is typically seen as a mix of strength and some hypertrophy. The perfect example is its use in the classic Reg Park 5×5 program.
*Note – x indicates explosive intent – as fast as possible!
|Relative Strength||2,1,x,0||~15 seconds|
|Absolute Strength||2,1,1,0||25 seconds|
|Myofibril Hypertrophy||3,0,3,0||35 Seconds|
|Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy||5,2,1,0||40 seconds|
|Muscular Endurance||14,0,1,0||75 seconds|
Once you begin to adjust the duration of your training sets, you can see how there are infinite ways to progress and change an exercise. You’re not simply limited to load, volume, or intensity. Sometimes, things just need a bit more TUT.