Progress, tension training and building upon your current strength system to ensure the trajectory of your gains is going in the right direction should always be priority number one. How you utilize the tools you have at hand in the gym to progressively overload your muscles can vary in a multitude of ways. All that really matters is that you make a concerted effort to increase power, focus on the ballistic capabilities of your structure and then capitalize on the time you have while under tension.
In turn, your performance in the gym will improve, your gains in strength will trend upwards and you will see your goals come to fruition.
Keep in mind, however, all of this will only occur if you are constant with your efforts and embed certain training techniques into your program that will allow you to consistently build upon the tension your body is able to withstand safely and effectively. To help further you along in this process, here are three excellent training approaches you can use to increase your tension tenacity.
Why To Use More Weight
This may seem a little redundant but for many people out there, focusing on using more weight within their lifts from week to week has become lost upon them. Whether it’s some sort of comfort factor that comes into play or laziness or just a lack of wanting to test their capabilities, moving up in weight just doesn’t seem to be a priority for so many people.
Instead, a focus on how they look in the mirror and for the gram has taken precedence over building strength which is why you rarely see anyone performing anything impressive in the gym anymore.
Very few people actually want to see a marked increase in their strength levels from week to week but the ones who do are the monsters you see lurking around who you are trying to steer clear of. Here’s the thing, getting stronger is never going to put you at a disadvantage with whatever your goals are.
It will only serve you well no matter what it is you’re trying to accomplish. So spend less time taking selfies and more time focusing on moving weight. You will look and feel much better because of it.
Introduce Variable Resistance Tension Training
At some point in your training career, you are going to find that using more weight just isn’t feasible anymore. It could be that you’ve maxed out your genetic capabilities and have reached your ceiling for strength or it could be because of injuries you don’t want to keep pushing the strength envelope or you may just have no interest in getting as strong as possible.
Regardless of what it is, just because you don’t want to lift heavier doesn’t mean you have to train any lesser than you normally would. You can increase the tension in your lifts thereby making things just as or even more difficult by using a variable resistance, tension training technique. The basis of this approach is that you change the tension at different ranges or points within the repetition.
You could have it so that there’s more tension at the bottom or at the top or in the mid-range portion of the rep. This is a highly advantageous form of training for many different reasons and because of that, here at Brickhouse Gym, we have the exact equipment designed for this specific purpose. Try any of our Prime Fitness USA pieces and you will see exactly what we are talking about. Take advantage of these unique machines and see for yourself how effective variable resistance training is.
Time Under Tension Training
Finally, if getting stronger from week to week isn’t your goal and you don’t have access to the equipment we have here at Brickhouse Gym but you are still adamant about increasing your tension training, start paying attention to your time under tension. What this refers to is the actual amount of time you spend working with the resistance you have chosen to use, tension training. Let’s take the bench press for example. Most rep cadences fall into the 2-1-2 range naturally which means it takes two seconds for the bar to descend, one second at peak eccentric hold and then an additional two second to complete the concentric part of the repetition.
So if your top sets on bench require you to complete six reps, that’s about 30 seconds total time under tension. Well, what if you increased that time but still achieved the same amount of reps? If you could successfully do that then that would mean you are completing more work and in theory, more hypertrophy and strength gains should occur. Many times people think that doing more reps is the answer to increasing time under tension but perhaps just focusing on the cadence of your repetition is the answer for you. Give it a try and see what happens.
There are of course many different ways to use tension training but the one thing you should always remember is that when you do lift weights, you’re not looking for the easy way out. Every movement you complete should be hard. Always look for the harder way to make the weight feel like it’s more. This is true tension training in that your reps shouldn’t be all that efficient from a timely standpoint. It should be difficult and it should be a grind; especially on those top sets. If your sets were always easy then nothing good would happen other than you’d skate right through a workout unscathed and that’s not what you want.
Try the three approaches mentioned above, give each their own time to work and then make your judgement at that point. You may find that eventually, you’re using all of them somewhere in your programs which will go a long way towards improving your penchant for strength with tension training.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member