The New Science of Time Under Tension

New article over at T – Nation on What’s the Optimal TUT for Muscular Gains? by Brad Schoenfeld, check it out!


Here’s what you need to know…

  1. Time-under-tension refers to how long the muscle is under strain during a set. For size gains, most think you need 30-60 seconds of TUT.
  2. Rather than looking at TUT for a set, it’s better to look at the total TUT for a given muscle group in a workout.
  3. You can build muscle with heavy sets lasting several seconds or lighter sets lasting a minute as long as you accumulate sufficient volume.
  4. If your main goal is to gain muscle size, 60-90 seconds (20-30 RM per set) will do it. You can do this with a periodized plan or perform heavy and light work in the same workout.
  5. Women may need longer TUT than men to build muscle.

What is Time Under Tension?

Surf the internet and you’re bound to see a slew of training recommendations based on the concept of time-under-tension (TUT). Basically, this refers to how long the muscle is under strain or resisting the weight during each set. Do 12 reps of biceps curls, taking about 1 second to lift the weight and 2 seconds to lower it, and your TUT for that set is 36 seconds.

A popular claim is that an optimal TUT for maximizing muscle growth requires training with sets that last in the range of 30 to 60 seconds. According to this theory, sets of longer or shorter duration will be suboptimal for muscle gains. Sounds good in theory, but is this claim consistent with the prevailing science?

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