By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)
If you enjoy working out then it’s clear you’re always up for a good physical challenge, but what could motivate you with a better mental challenge than performing exercises with very slow reps, to the point where it seems to take forever for you to reach the end of a set? Well, if you can stir up the motivation to handle the grind of Time Under Tension (TUT) sets, your muscles (and mind) will thank you later. The method to perform TUT sets is to take each rep to a slow count on both the positive and negative parts of the lift. A common approach is to perform an exercise with reps that require five full seconds to complete the positive portion of one rep, and five full seconds to complete the negative portion of the same rep. Therefore, each and every rep will take about 10 seconds to complete in total (even longer if you throw in an isometric hold in the peak position); this is a very sharp contrast to the typical length of one to one-and-a-half seconds of rep completion at standard speed.
The choice of whether to do TUT sets is yours – do you have what it takes? If you can muster up the wherewithal to handle the commitment involved, then here’s an excellent tip for you. The use of a cable apparatus goes hand in hand with time under tension and is a very natural fit for this principle. While the plane of motion with cables is fixed linear (meaning you don’t have to use stabilizer muscles to balance the resistance like you do with dumbbells), they keep constant tension on your muscles throughout the execution.
Let’s never forget that forging a near-perfect body like Greg didn’t happen easily. In addition to all the physical exertion he put into his workouts, you can bet that there was a considerable amount of mental strain as well. Time under tension reps mean you have to develop a mental acuity that produces a steady, well-timed pace for each half of the rep. It also means that fatigue will set in much more readily, but as Greg well knew, time under tension is a direct means to enhanced muscle stimulation which can add muscle mass and strength more efficiently than standard reps. To handle the mental grind here, you’ll need a lot of patience and considerable focus – but hey, that’s the stuff that make champions like Greg.
SELF-MOTIVATIONAL TIME UNDER TENSION (TUT) BICEPS WORKOUT
Exercise Sets Reps Pos/Neg Rest
STANDING BARBELL CURL 4 10, 8, 8, 6 5 / 5 secs. 1:30 mins.
PREACHER CURL 3 10, 8, 6 4 / 4 secs. 1:00 min.
SINGLE-ARM CABLE CURL 3 10, 8, 6 4 / 4 secs. 1:00 min.
CONCENTRATION CURL 3 12, 10, 8 --- 45 secs.
MACHINE HIGH CURL 3 12, 10, 8 --- 45 secs.