How We Use Time Under Tension


Time under tension is used as the unit of measurement which a muscle is put under tension for a set time to elicit a specific metabolic response & physical adaptation. We use tempo work and rep ranges to monitor our TUT for different exercises. Below is a breakdown of each strength/structural rep scheme on the strength-speed & endurance continuum.

RELATIVE STRENGTH [ Neural Recovery Zone - 0-10 seconds - 1-2 reps] [ ATP-CP Recovery Zone - 10-20 seconds 2-5 reps]

Relative strength is trained between 1-5 repetitions and a TUT of less than 20 seconds with the emphasis being on the athlete lifting heavier loads (70-80%+ of 1RM). The goal is to make the body more efficient at lifting heavier weights by adaptations in the nervous system [CNS].

Longer rest periods up to 2-3mins + are often used between sets to allow the body to work at a higher intensity combined with a higher number of sets per exercise. Lowering the rest interval can be important for fitness adaptations and absolute strength-endurance or strength endurance adaptations.

Training lower reps at higher loads can be highly beneficial for intermediate and advanced athletes who have gained the ability to produce ‘power’ in their training. This strength zone should be used once you have built the right bases of support and structural balance upon the other strength zones.

Lower reps/higher load will cause a higher strain on the CNS. This will of course be based on the athlete’s ability to produce force/power production, ability to express power with those movements selected, and their recovery between high CNS output training based sessions.

FUNCTIONAL HYPERTROPHY [ 20-40 seconds - 5-8 reps]

Functional Hypertrophy uses repetition ranges of 5-8 with a TUT of 20-40 seconds. This mixture of strength and hypertrophy, i.e. muscle growth, allows the body to become stronger and build muscle at the same time.

Rest times of 2-3mins and less sets are required than training strength. This style of training can add muscle that has function and performance, and is an important cross-section for fitness gains.