There are many ways to make sure your workouts stay challenging. You could try out new routines, increase your reps/load/work duration while shortening rest time, incorporating new moves or different types of movements, or do tougher variations.
The last thing you want is boredom and plateau.
Something that is often overlooked is actually pretty simple. You don’t have to add fancy new moves and will definitely get impressive results by doing this.
Increase your time under tension
When you lift weights, do bodyweight exercises and hold various poses, it’s common to get into the posture, complete the exercise then quickly release.
Instead of letting go immediately or moving at your usual pace, try slowing down and doing the exercise with more control, especially during the eccentric (negative, muscle lengthening) phase of the exercise. For instance, lowering yourself during push-ups, lowering your forearm after a bicep curl, and lowering yourself before pushing up to do a squat. We know, taking your exercise slow-motion isn’t fun or easy, but it’s worth it.
We call this increasing your time under tension, and this principle is well-loved because it’s a great way to gain more from your workout without increasing reps or work time. One way to keep track of your time under tension is to count. When releasing a bicep curl, try counting “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand” slowly as you lower your forearm. You can increase the counting when the movement starts to feel easy.
So, this is increasing time under tension during the eccentric (lowering) phase of an exercise.
Can it also be done in the concentric (lifting) part of an exercise? Of course. But I have a better idea, why not in both lifting and lowering phases of an exercise.
If interested, please read the following posts in the Blog:
- “Super-Slow…” dated February 16, 2015, and
- “Super-Super Slow…” dated June 17, 2015.
Why it works
By increasing your muscles’ time under tension (TUT), you enable them to gain strength and stability at a faster rate without spending too much extra time in the gym.
When you move slowly during the muscle contraction phase of an exercise, or during the lowering phase, it inadvertently leads to more muscle engagement, more controlled movement and better form. As a result, you will expend more energy, build more muscle and become stronger than expected.
That’s it for now my friends; see you all the next time.