Muscle growth can occur with a large range of repetition speeds from 0.5 seconds (fast) to 8 seconds (slow). The full recruitment of all muscle fibers by taking sets to failure stimulates muscle growth rather than the repetition tempo or TUT.
TIME UNDER TENSION MUSCLE GROWTH: FACT OR FICTION
TIME UNDER TENSION SUMMARY
- Studies have found similar muscle growth despite protocols with greater time under tension (TUT).
- Muscle growth can occur with a large range of repetition speeds from 0.5 seconds (fast) to 8 seconds (slow). Slower repetitions result in a reduction in training volume.
- Studies have found similar muscle growth despite protocols with greater TUT.
- The full recruitment of all muscle fibers by taking sets to failure stimulates muscle growth rather than the repetition tempo or TUT.
TUT TRAINING: TIME UNDER TENSION MYTH OR FACT?
What does TUT mean? Time Under Tension (TUT) is defined as the amount of time a muscle is contracting by timing the duration of the sets and reps. TUT is highly controversial because some studies have found increased muscle growth with a greater time under tension workout, while others have found no difference.
SLOW REPS VS FAST REPS: DO THEY MATTER FOR MUSCLE GROWTH?
If you raise and lower the weight slower, more continuous tension is placed on the muscle. Sounds reasonable, but unfortunately, the time under tension hypertrophy claims don’t hold up to the science. The muscle-building stimulus does not strictly rely on the length of each set but on the amount of volume and whether sets are taken to failure each set.
DOES TIME UNDER TENSION BUILD MUSCLE?
One would expect greater time under tension muscle growth, but research does not support this. For example, one study compared a bodybuilding protocol using (3 sets of 10 repetitions), whose TUT was 30-40 seconds, to a powerlifting protocol (7 sets of 3 reps) with a TUT of 9-12 seconds, which resulted in similar muscle growth.
IS TIME UNDER TENSION A MYTH?
In a 2019 study, subjects who trained to failure and were assigned to a high rep (20-25 repetition maximum) gained similar increases in muscle to those using low reps (6-8 repetition maximum); however, the heavy weight groups had a slightly greater increase in muscle mass. Another interesting finding was that the time under tension was 60-75 seconds for the high-rep group. In contrast, the strength group TUT was 18-24 seconds. Even though there were differences in TUT for both groups, muscle growth was similar.