Time Under Tension - What is it?

Time Under Tension (TUT) is one topic that has recently got a lot of hype for its role it can play in the gym.

The training background and experience you have had will impact your thoughts on the concept of TUT. But it is certainly a topic you should have an understanding of, it may or may not play a role in your training.

How does it work?

Time Under Tension refers to the amount of time the muscle is under strain over all phases of the muscle contraction during a working set. Most people utilise 60-90 seconds of TUT for muscle growth.

For example:

When doing a squat the most commonly used method, you could complete a set of 1 x 10 reps with a tempo of 2 seconds lower 1 sec at the bottom and then drive up quick (1 second) giving you a TUT for the set of 40 seconds.

Alternatively, I could perform the set of 10 squats using a tempo of 5 seconds lower 1 sec at the bottom and then 5 seconds up giving a TUT of 110 seconds.

There are so many different ways in which you can adjust the TUT for the set:

  • Increase the number of reps completed
  • Increase the tempo of the lift (5 seconds lower)
  • Add a pause to the lift

One issue with TUT is that although you be may doing more time..... The training 'load' is decreased.

For example:

Sticking with the squat example, you would complete the set of 10 using tempo 1 with 120kg (giving a load of 1120kg).

But to complete Tempo 2 you would have to drop the weight back to say 90kg (giving a set load 900kg) to able to complete the lift at the speed set.

So the set takes me longer to complete but I am using a lesser load.....

One option if you want the extra TUT - use the same heavy load but complete it over more sets.

Which method is better for hypertrophy??? The big question we all want to know!

The positives for Time Under Tension

  • The increase in time the muscle is under strain - shown to acutely increase the protein synthesis occurring at the cell.
  • There are many studies showing its benefits for hypertrophy
  • If injured - using lighter loads can be a great way to still get some muscle size
  • If you have a sloppy technique when performing fast reps, it makes you control the movement
  • Using holds for increased TUT can be a great way to load up a tendon if having any sort of tendonopathy issues.
  • Decreased stress on joints.

Negatives for using Time Under Tension

  • If you are only using light weights will find it hard to get a big improvement in strength
  • Decreased 'set volume'
  • If you train slow - you will move slow!
  • Not the best method when working in a sporting situation


1 - Under loading

Looking to change up your training once or twice and apply a different stimulus to the body.

2- Using as a training technique - still need to progress

Use as a training method for a 4-week block. Although you are slowing down the movement you still to be progressing - either more reps, more weight or more time.

3 - Rehab/Prehab

Can certainly play a role when injured enabling some serious muscle growth with a reduced load in particular stress on the joint.

In saying all of that:

Looking at increasing performance - move as much weight as you can as fast as you can!! Be a savage!


Time Under Tension certainly has its place in the gym - it is up to you to decide if it fits into your training plan. As with any training method, it has its own pros and cons. If it works for you and you are chasing some extra improvement in hypertrophy then give it a go and extend the time your sets take at the gym.

To add even more value to your workout try these great supplements!

Pre-workout: Intra-workout Post-workout

Mega Pre Black Aminoade Rule 1 - Protein

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