Weight Training: Time Under Tension (Part 1)

The next time you're in the gym, take a look around you and watch how many people are half-assing their sets.

Ask yourself how much their muscles really contracted during the movement. Anyone can bust out a quick set of curls or presses and appear to have done 10 or 12 reps. But the muscles did not work as much as they should have.

I guarantee that I can get more out of set of bench presses with 225 lbs than most guys can get out of 315. Its not that I CAN'T DO heavy weight like that, but I choose to do what works, not what just looks good to strangers I couldn't give a shit about.

A guy who is a beginner isn't going to get a handle on this yet, he hasn't developed the muscle enough to know the feeling I'm talking about. Virtually anything will make his body grow since everything is new to him.

However, the quicker he can learn this concept the faster he will be on his way to major growth and an impressive build. It's all about how much time the muscle squeezes and contracts in a given set.

Now, this is going to be some pain and agony, 90% of people will not want to train this way. But I promise you that if you can adopt this style of training, then even with a half-assed diet you will have an impressive build!

So here is what I want you to do if you've never trained this way, it's an old Arthur Jones routine called “superslow” it's a 10 second negative and 10 sec positive on each rep. You will be performing sets of 4-6 reps with a 10 second negative and 10 second positive, that's 20 seconds per rep!

So this means you may be under a weight for a minute and a half for a simple 4-6 reps. Lose the ego, you may end up using 135 lbs on bench press instead of 225. You may be curling a 40 lb barbell instead of 120 lbs, doesn't matter. It's all about pushing the muscle to a new threshold. Most of the time I'm thinking of a certain weight I can get for a given number of reps, I will purposely use 10 lbs less and squeeze my muscles even harder.

So next time you want to use 100 lbs on tricep pressdowns, put it on 90 lbs instead and squeeze your arms even harder. But anyways, back to the routine here. OK, 3 sets of 4-6 reps per exercise, 2-3 exercises per muscle group. What exercises? Doesn't matter, I don't get hung up on that stuff. Just pick one and challenge yourself.

Here is an example of something I may do on chest day:

Incline bench press – 3 sets of 4-6 reps superslow (185 lbs)

Incline hammer strength machine – 3 sets of 4-6 reps superslow (2 plates/side)

Flat db flies – 3 sets of 4-6 reps superslow (30 lb db's)

Now those are the weights that off the top of my head I'd probably be using for that routine. Those weights are basically my starting point. I may go up 5-10 lbs or I may stay at those weights for the next 2 sets, depending on how hard it was to perform 4- 6 reps.

Now keep in mind, I don't claim to be Arnold Schwarzenegger here, but I am usually the biggest and leanest guy in the gym at any given time. And those are the weights that I might use. So if you're a 175 lb guy do not be ashamed if you're only using 10 lbs on db curls or 90 lbs on the bench press.

You will train like this for 4 weeks straight. What's going to happen is when you go back to a normal routine you will squeeze your muscles harder, recover faster between sets, and probably execute your reps 1-2 seconds slower, causing more time under tension within the muscle.

This is what builds an impressive physique!

Think of it like a car stereo contest, the guy with that really ultra deep bass system, he doesn't let it play for a long time. Everyone else is blasting their music and letting it play, but the guy with the most powerful system turns it on long enough so they can measure decibels, then turns it off before he shatters everyone's eardrums and his windshield. This may be a poor analogy here, but this is like your muscle output.

What you're teaching your muscles to do, is be like that guy's stereo. Even if you turn it on for 5 seconds it puts out more power and work than anything around it.

Train hard!

Be sure to check out: Time Under Tension (Part 2)


11 thoughts on “Weight Training: Time Under Tension (Part 1)”

  1. This kind of content is fantastic – keep it up. For the longest time I’d been stuck in “If the bar ain’t bending” mode, and all it really did was give me lower back problems (go figure as all I wanted to do was move more weight).

    I’ve been trying the approach outlined here for the last few weeks and it has done miracles for the mind-muscle connection. After a just a few workouts, I’m getting a good handle how to contract my muscles so much harder than before. Definitely an eye-opener, and I think I’ll be able to manage a few more gains before looking at running my first cycle.

    • Good I’m glad to hear it. Yea man, so many different ways to get a great physique, but time under tension will get you volumized and recovered quicker. Don’tget me wrong, powerlifting is impressive and demanding, but I know of ZERO powerlifters who areover the age of 40 that ddon’t have some type of major injury/multiple surgeries

  2. I tried this style of training in the past and I didn’t remember why I stopped. Now I remember why, I went back to this and my recovery on this type of training is absolute shit, yesterday I did chest and arms, it was an awesome training, my muscle were ready to explode, great pumps and everything… but today I feel like shit, I just want to lie in my bed and do nothing, I feel like I have freaking low testosterone, no energy and awful headache. I dont know what the fuck is wrong with me lol. I feel a lot better doing fast rep with heavy weight.

    • Fast reps create skip points in a movement and increase chances of injury. You’re tired because you worked your muscles harder. Lower the volume more until you get accustomed to it

      • You have to give it tune for your body to get used to new training style. Neurological system, endocrine system to get used to new TUT and definitely don’t life weights on back to back days. I grow when resting and your body works as a whole. Even if u add 1 rep, 1/2 rep per workout your trending up. Heavy weight with bad form and fast tempo only works for the genetic freaks.

  3. John Doe,
    This is awesome, keep this up! I see quite a few articles on TUT claiming BS, but you can’t claim that until you have actually DONE it. Not even afterwards in my opinion.

    I’m working on keeping this pretty consistent with my work outs, as well as finding a balance with the other methods. I have noticed that while lifting this way, you are using a lot of brute force and strength and this can definitely make you stronger in the long-term.

    Thanks for the great advice and content!


  4. Hi JD thanks for all of this great info! Much appreciated. I got a question for ya…what is an example of what you would do for back?


Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00