Lets talk about Time-Under-Tension It can be a useful method to ensure that the exercise is challenging enough to actually cause a training response, and is a scientifically proven way to place more stimuli in a region. By manipulating the speed of the repetitions and the time the muscles are working, one can target specific goals, such as muscle endurance, maximum hypertrophy, strength and power. Movements must be done smoothly, in our neutral posture, and within our active range. Beginners will have more success avoiding injury by moving quite slowly (at least 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down). Always remember the neurological adaptation of a beginner exercising. The goal of the exerciser is to adapt to pathways (extension, flexion, abduction,) rather then strength gains. We, as professionals, must remember that our clients must learn kinesthetic awareness first and foremost.
Time under tension is a critical element in every exercise program. It ensures that you are giving your body the correct instructions in the form of muscular contractions to send and receive messages efficiently without synergistic dominance, and overload of one or more joints. We don’t need to call upon muscles that are not part of the goal. More importantly create inertia, or momentum that will disrupt smooth coordinated joint motion. The human body is similar to a computer in the way they both interpret instructions. When you are giving a computer a command you have to be exactly right, if you are off even by a little bit in your command you can hit enter all day long and still not get the results you want. I equate improper motions as a “delete”. I will say this, it will delete your opportunity to retain your client and also stage for an injury.
Our bodies make Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. (SAID) Scientific studies have shown that the most effective way to gain muscle is to safely/ progressively provide overload to the muscles using contractions to momentary failure between 30 and 60 seconds per set. Another common mistake is to go for the largest weights you can handle and throw momentum into your reps. (Muscle momentum vs. muscle force) Manipulation of momentum does have a vital role in the proper biomechanical efficiency of any joint complex. Momentum decreases muscle stimulus, and adds a host of disproportionate forces across joints. However, if you want to educate your muscles to promote the correct changes in your body you have to challenge them with the appropriate time under tension, not just throwing big weights around. Fact: Every second that momentum is bringing the weight up is taking away from the muscle stimulus of the contraction making the exercise less effective. Time under tension really is a simple concept to grasp when you take a second to think about it. That is one of the reasons why it is often overlooked in many exercise programs. No one can escape the passage of time, even if you are not paying attention to it. A set is constant tension… if the tension is relieved at any point the set is actually over. Time under tension is the key to clear communication with our bodies. This technique is an integral part of the foundation of fact, science and the art of proper training methods.
Dave Parise CPT FPTA MES