Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Time Under Tension Training - Dan Trink (2015)


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Dan Trink

There are lots of reasons to have an eye on the clock when you're training. Timing your workouts and rest periods will make sure that you aren't taking too long between sets for what you want to accomplish; it will guarantee you finish your training with enough time to get to work; and it will even get you back on track when you're staring too long at the cute girl wearing yoga pants in the squat rack.

But there is one aspect of timing in your workouts that you may be missing out on completely. One that will ensure that you are working your muscles in a way that optimizes growth. A method that has you time out the length of each phase (lowering, lifting, pausing) of each rep and, ultimately, each set in order to promote the greatest amount of muscle gain. This technique is simply called Time Under Tension (TUT) training.

TUT can be achieved in two ways. The first is to set a timer - say, for 40 seconds - and continue to perform an exercise for that amount of time without stopping. A more effective way, and the one this program will focus on, is to use a tempo prescription for each rep. Why is this more effective?  Because it allows you to specifically slow down the eccentric or lowering phase of each rep. And there is much research to back up that slow eccentric phases are an effective way to build mass.

In our program charts, tempo is laid out as a four-digit number. Each number correlates with a specific phase of the movement and represents the number of seconds you will spend in this phase. 

 -- The first number represents the lowering phase (for example, the descent in a squat, lowering yourself in a pullup, or bringing a bench press down to your chest). 

 -- The second number refers to any pause at the bottom of the movement. 

 -- The third is the lifting phase in which you are overcoming gravity to lift the bar or your body.

 -- The fourth number is any pause that might occur at the top.

So a 4-1-1-0 tempo for a back squat would have you lowering for a 4-second count, pausing for 1 second at the bottom, taking 1 second to stand up, and then not pausing at the top. 

Using tempo this way will force each rep to last 6 seconds (4+1+1+0 + 6). If you maintain this tempo for eight reps, then the entire set will take 48 seconds, which falls right in the middle of the ideal time under tension range to build muscle (40 to 60 seconds).

And while it may take a workout or two to get used to using tempo, the benefits are worth it. Here's how to shorten your learning curve:

 -- Most TUT programs (this one included) focus on a slow lowering phase and a fast lifting phase. So even if you lose count of the seconds for each, remember that you should go down slow and come up fast.

 -- You are going to want to cheat the rep speed and move faster as you fatigue. DON'T! Get a training partner to count the tempo for you if necessary. Three or four seconds is a long time. 

 -- Be conservative with your weight selection. While you may be able to bench 100 kg for 10 reps normally, the longer lowering phase will make things much harder. Cut 20% off the weight you use. While this may not be great for your ego, controlling the TUT will ultimately give you the size you want.

 -- You will likely be very sore the first week or two of training this way. Prepare appropriately.



Perform each workout once per week, resting on two non-consecutive days. Note that the reps shown in the layouts are for use in Week 1 only. Weeks 2 to 4 use the following guidelines:

 -- Week 1: all reps go to 8-10
 -- Week 2: all reps go to 10-12.
 -- Week 3: all reps go to 6-8
 -- Week 4: all reps go to 12-15

You will also need to choose your weights appropriately for each week. When the number of reps goes down, the weights should increase over the previous week's. When the number of reps goes up, the weights will have to decrease.

Week One, Day One

Barbell Back Squat, 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps, TEMPO 4-0-1-0, 60 second rest between sets (for all).
Dumbbell Step Ups, 3 x 8-10 (each leg), 3-0-1-0
Romanian Deadlift, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0
Walking Lunge, 3 x 8-10, 2-0-1-0
Hanging Knee Raise, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0

Week One, Day Two

Bench Press, 4 x 8-10, 3-1-1-0
One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press, 3 x 8-10 (each arm), 3-0-1-0
Cable Chest Flye, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0
Seated Arnold Press, 3 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0
Pushups, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0

Week One, Day Three

Pullup, 4 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0
Barbell Bentover Row, 3 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0
Cable Straight-Arm Pulldown, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0
One-Arm Dumbbell Row, 3 x 8-10,  3-0-1-1
Rear Delt Flye, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0

Week One, Day Four

Trap Bar Deadlift, 4 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0
Heels-Elevated Goblet Squat, 3 x 8-10, 3-2-1-0
Glute Ham Raise, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0
Leg Press, 3 x 8-10, 3-1-1-0
Reverse Hyperextension, 3 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0

Week One, Day Five

Barbell Floor Press, 4 x 8-10, 3-1-1-0
Close-Grip Chinup, 3 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0
Decline EZ-Bar Skull Crusher, 3 x 8-10, 4-0-1-0
Incline Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0
Triceps Rope Pressdown, 3 x 8-10, 3-0-1-0

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