The concept of Time-Under-Tension (TUT) is VERY lucrative in the world of resistance training
This concept is propagated by so many fitness “gurus” that one would assume it is rooted in the very foundations of resistance training
In fact, I myself have spent so much time in trying to find whether or not this concept has any merit and have often been left scratching my head
And now finally after all that time fixating over this issue and breaking my head over it…I feel that now I am at a place to write about this….
So…lets get right to it
Breaking down Time-Under-Tension:
TUT emerged its head on the back of some research (I have bust my behind trying to find that paper but alas!) which claimed that for hypertrophy, the optimal time under which the muscle must work under load is 40-60 seconds
So in order to achieve this, someone came up with the idea of slowing down reps so as to fit into that time frame. Different “gurus” have come up with their own variations on what the lifting “tempo” should be.
First question right off the bat….Can such an assumption be blatantly made?
Even if the research claim is true, does it mean that it stands true if that time frame is achieved by slowing down reps? The association may not necessarily work
Another issue is the credibility of that research
If you have dealt with enough studies and research, you will realize two things:
a) Each study can be EASILY manipulated to show results that the researcher, funder or any affiliated person desires to show
b) Many studies (including some of the most respected and trusted ones) have been proven to be faulty and have been discredited
c) You need multiple studies and ones with clear testing and result recording protocols in order to solidify a finding
I have never seen any reliable research to convince me that basing your workouts on TUT guidelines works. Especially when compared to more important parameters such as load,sets,reps
I have yet to see a study that actually establishes an “optimal” lifting tempo for muscle hypertrophy
So one thing is certain…..there is very limited (if any) evidence that the TUT concept holds any merit
There are TONS of tried,tested,scientifically proven concepts that TUT violates
1) By lifting slowly, you drastically limit the poundage that you can lift. And Load is one of the primary parameters to be considered when you are aiming for muscle gain
To quote one of the greatest sports conditioning coaches Jason Ferruggia :
” Taking a full 40–70 seconds to complete a set of 6–8 reps is one of the most ludicrous things I could possibly imagine. I can barely make sex last that long, never mind a set of chin ups.”
2) The muscle fibers that have the greatest ability to grow are fast twitch fibers. These fibers are recruited maximally when you lift weights that restrict you to 8 reps or below (around 80% of your 1 rep max). By focusing on TUT and thereby limiting loads and deliberately slowing down reps, you sabotage the training of fast twitch muscle fibers thereby compromising optimal muscle growth
3) All you achieve through this method of slowing down reps is an excessive development of lactic acid which gives that burning sensation. Remember those “fitness gurus” who come up on TV and go….”Do you feel the burn?” And most people go about thinking that is actually doing something for them…Yeah right!
To quote Jason again:
“You can get a burning sensation by doing 100 crunches… or sleeping with the wrong girl. But neither of those activities is going to lead to significant muscle growth”
Man this guy is funny! And absolutely SPOT ON!
4) I actually tried out the TUT concept personally. In spite of all the evidence against it, I thought…
“What the heck…lets give this a shot.”
And guess what….
My poundages dropped, I lost muscle, felt weak, fatigued and lethargic for the rest of the day after the workout. Basically…I FELT LIKE SHIT!
So…my personal experience goes against TUT as well
There is almost no evidence for and a LOT of evidence against TUT
It is based on some supposed study the link to which I have never actually found
It is derived using conclusions which are at best questionable
It violates cemented principles and parameters of resistance training with no apparent benefit
And it has been found ineffective and actually counterproductive by myself and any other person I know who has actually gone the length to try it
My suggestion is to ignore this shaky concept and rather focus on things that we know matter a hell lot more such as load, sets, reps, frequency, volume which are scientifically proven parameters that determine optimal training for muscle hypertrophy
So quit wasting your time on stuff that doesn’t matter and focus on things that really do
DREAM IT, BELIEVE IT, ACHIEVE IT!
PS: Drop in a comment and tell me what you’re experiences have been with TUT