Building muscle is no small task. It takes years of dedication and determination to accrue the level of muscularity that most of us are in search of. Sure, you can attain a lean and shapely physique within months of training while adhering to a proper diet and cardio plan, but to pack on serious lean mass, it takes time. Not only does it take time in the sense that those years need to add up, but also includes the time you spend while under tension during training. The sets and reps you decide to incorporate within your training will dictate the amount of tension and stress you endure. The hope is that the more you can handle in this respect, the more muscle you’ll gain so to ensure you are extracting all that you can from this notion, here are 5 great tips you can start incorporating now to improve upon the time you spend under tension.
Tip #1: Get Comfortable in the Uncomfortable
One of the most important strategies that you can put in place for yourself while training is to settle in with the fact that stress isn’t supposed to be something you are comfortable with. No one likes stress, no matter what form it presents itself in, and weight training is no different. Find exercises and movements that your body responds to with positive pain and then then work from there. If it’s easy and doesn’t make you grimace, it’s not for you.
Tip #2: Explore Rep Tempos
The amount of time you spend under tension is related to the rep tempos and cadences you employ. There are many and you have to decide, through exploration and experimentation, which rep tempo is best suited for your training goals. If you’re looking to improve upon explosive power, then your rep speed with be quick in the concentric and slow on the eccentric. If you’re looking to target as many muscle fibers as possible through the entire range of motion, then your tempo will be much slower on both the decent and accent of the rep. Finding a good middle ground may be most effective for you. The key is to find your natural rhythm first and then adjust accordingly from there.
Tip #3: Use all Avenues
The ensure you are receiving a variety of stress and tension within your training, make sure you are utilizing all the tools you have at your disposal in your gym. The free weights, the machines, the cable systems, the body weight stations, the resistance bands, the chains and anything else you can think of that can add good stress to your body should all be considered when training. A quick look around here at Brickhouse Gym and you’ll see we have taken the necessary measures to ensure your access to all of these avenues. Used one at a time or in conjunction with one another, you can greatly improve upon your time under tension.
Tip #4: Form First, Cheat Second
Adhering to proper training form within the exercises you have selected for your training is incredibly important. First and foremost, it is the best place to start to ensure a higher level of training safety. Secondly, it ensures you are taxing your muscle correctly through the proper range of motion and finally, it allows you to incorporate cheat reps to really finish off the target muscle. When you are specifically aiming to increase your time under tension within any exercise, your objective should be to do so with perfect form first, followed up by a few cheat reps to continue the set and the time spent under tension. If you’re a stickler for good form, you’ll be able to acknowledge it when your form breaks down and then know it’s time to throw those cheat reps in. This will be very important if training by yourself.
Tip #5: Trusty Spotter
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you really want to extend that time you spend under tension within your exercises, there’s no better solution than to have someone there to train with you that can assist you in your plan. Having a spotter that you trust may prove to be a game changer for you in that they can be there to get you through some forced reps, to help strip the weight down for you during drop sets, to adding a little extra tension to the bar here and there or just by simply pushing you and encouraging you to do more than what you would have done alone. A great spotter is someone who can get you to do more. If you have someone like this, keep them around.
As much as it would be great to just think that no matter what you do in the gym, you’ll grow new muscle, that just isn’t always the case unfortunately. Sometimes you have to put some significant thought into your workouts to ensure your success for that day. Exploring all that comes with time under tension is definitely a great place to start and stay. There really is so much you can do here and play around with to find that sweet spot for training and new growth. Give the suggested tips above a try and see what happens. Maybe one will work really well for you and maybe they all will. Just keep training and trying out new ideas and strategies and you’ll find what works for you and when you do, stick with it!
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member