Home PSP Fitness and Sports Are you getting the most out of your physical training?

Are you getting the most out of your physical training?

Time under tension is the amount of time a muscle is active or under load during a set of exercise. When using it to your advantage, you can maximize your physical training this new year.

We are able to train towards our goals in a more specific manner through time under tension by using it as a guideline. Generally speaking, the optimal duration for strength is 5-30 seconds, muscle growth is 30-60 seconds, and 60+ seconds for muscular endurance for one set of exercise. 

We can break down time under tension further by looking at the time it takes us to complete one repetition, known as tempo. Tempo has three phases: eccentric (lowering the weight/lengthening the muscle), isometric (bottom), and concentric (raising the weight/contracting the muscle). 

Now we can apply this to an exercise example and see how the same number of reps can target different muscular changes.

Example: Squatting for 10 reps

A) Tempo – 1:1:2 = 4 seconds per rep x 10 reps = 40 seconds (muscle growth)

B) Tempo – 2:1:4 = 7 seconds per rep x 10 reps = 70 seconds (muscular endurance)

In this example a heavier load would be used for example A, and a lighter load for example B. The muscle must be placed under stress for that period of time by the load, causing it to adapt and become stronger than before. The exercise and weight must be challenging enough to cause muscle fatigue towards the end of the set. 

Time under tension can be manipulated to achieve a specific adaptation depending on your fitness goals. A slow tempo combined with high repetitions is great for developing stability and muscle endurance, while moderate tempo and fewer repetitions with an increased load will be better for strength and muscle gains.

Picking a weight and counting reps may not be the most effective method when it comes to training towards specific goals. But proper weight selection, time under tension and tempo is a way to ensure your training is in line with your goals. I encourage you to include all 3 aspects of muscular strength, hypertrophy (growth) and endurance in your exercise program for variety and to get the most out of your training.

By: Greg Balind, Fitness and Sports Instructor

Greg Balind is a Certified Personal Trainer by the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology and a graduate of Dalhousie University in Kinesiology. He played various sports growing up and was always interested in improving his performance through exercise.

This article is part of the Borden Citizen “Weekly Fitness Tips” series. Click here for more content like this, and subscribe to the free Borden Citizen weekly newsletter to make sure you don’t miss the next one!