Bodybuilders are often asked about the amount of weight they can lift on various exercises. But, the truth is that bodybuilders don’t bother themselves too much with this subject.
They don’t put too much importance on how much they can lift, since unlike powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding isn’t about how strong a person is. The main thing bodybuilders concern themselves with is the appearance of their musculature.
That’s why they don’t strive to accomplish personal weight or rep records. Instead, their main focus is on making their muscles bigger over time.
You’ll also see varying speeds of lifting the weight among different bodybuilders, and even though it might be monotonous and tedious at times, increased time under tension will definitely help you make greater hypertrophy gains compared to being on a shorter time under tension.
How is time under tension defined
Time under tension is defined as the amount of time that anybody tissue is under strain during a working set. Increasing the time under which the muscle tissue is stressed can create greater breakdown of muscle fibers than moving a lighter weight faster. In the end, this results in increased muscle size after recovery.
To elicit the right response from your muscle tissue, a set of 10 repetitions should last around 30-40 seconds, while regular lifters would do the same set for in a shorter time frame, 20-30 seconds. When you increase the time under tension, your main focus will be on intensity instead of thinking about doing a specified number of repetitions.
There’s been a lot of debate whether increasing the time under tensions triggers greater muscle gains, but the majority of studies support this claim under various discoveries:
• The cross-section area of the slow-twitch type muscle fibers is greatly increased, which leads to maximal stimulation of these type I fibers since they possess a high level of fatigue threshold, which also promotes an increased hypertrophic response.
• Increased mitochondrial density, myofibrillar, and sarcoplasmic protein synthesis after increased time under tension during training.
• Vascular occlusion coming as a result of increased number of compressed blood vessels for prolonged periods of time after training.
• Increased lactate threshold leads to increased cellular swelling and increased anabolic hormone levels, which leads to increased protein synthesis.
How to achieve greater time under tension
As with all other types of training, employing periodization will trigger greater hypertrophic and strength gains in the long term. The same goes for when you start increasing time under tension. This will allow for a continual training adaptation, which will ultimately lead to greater muscle gains.
1. When you focus on maintaining a strain in your muscle for 30-40 seconds, you’ll find that the weights that were previously easy to handle are now becoming increasingly heavier, so much that you’ll no longer be able to lift them after the 20th second.
This is the time when you should add drop sets. Maintain the same intensity and go through the increased time under tension by prolonging the set with some lighter weights.
2. Focus on the eccentric part of the movement. The majority of lifters have a tendency to ignore the eccentric/negative part of the movement by simply letting the weight return to its starting position with no resistance whatsoever or control.
This eliminates a great potential for eliciting a hypertrophic response. Even though the concentric part of the movement is essential to triggering hypertrophy, the eccentric part puts a more significant strain on your muscle.
Not only is it working to properly support the weight, it’s also working to resist gravity. Don’t neglect the eccentric part.