I was recently introduced to the concept of Time Under Tension Training (or TUT for short).
In a nutshell, TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. A typical set of 10 reps for an average lifter will take anywhere from 15-25 seconds depending on lifting speed. By putting a muscle under longer bouts of strain, you can cause extensive muscle breakdown allowing you to maximize muscle growth while minimizing the chance of injury. With most TUT protocols you are choosing a TUT training protocol of 45 to 60 seconds. In a typical rep, speed will be shorter in the first 30 seconds and faster as you fatigue in the last 15 to 30 seconds
The reduced risk of injury is what appealed to me. Over the last 3 years, I have been on the continual search for exercises and straining regimes that allow me to train at a high level of intensity reducing the likelihood of injury. The one caveat with TUT training is that it may not work well if you are into heavy lifting.
The 4 key benefits I have found with TUT training are:
Increased mind Muscle Connection – FitAfterContributor, Johnny Olsen, shared a great infographic with me last year that emphasized the importance of the mind-muscle connection. The key takeaway is the better you are at increasing this connection, the more gains you are going to make in the gym. Former Master Olympian Champion and 71-year-old bodybuilding legend Robby Robinson also emphasizes just how crucial the mind-muscle connection and when Robby talks it’s a good idea to listen. Here is a peek at what Robby looks like at 71.
Variety – Variety is the spice of life and this definitely holds true in the gym. The more you can mix it up the easier it is to keep things fresh. It also allows you to hit your muscles with another training protocol.
Improved Form – As mentioned above, a typical TUT training protocol calls for 45 to 60 second set ranges; this means you are training with lighter weights. We have all seen the guy at the gym who puts 2 plates on the bench but has no business training with that weight. He bounces the weight off his chest or excessively arches his back. The bottom line is increased load generally results in compromised form.
Reduced Risk of Injury. – This final point goes hand in hand with improved form. The better your form, the less likely you are going to get injured. For the post 45 athlete and weekend warrior, there is simply less margin for error when it comes to training. You can no longer get away with the same stuff at 55 that you did at 25. TUT is a great way to mix things up especially if you have a few injuries on the mend. The focus is less on WHAT you are your lifting and more HOW you are lifting.