The role of time under tension in strength training

The role of time under tension in strength training

Fast, slow, or better by feel? Which speed of movement is best for strength training? In fact, research has shown that most athletes just get started. Too bad because the right pace in movement execution influences the workout’s success. Read more about time under tension.

The meaning of time under tension

Let’s start with the basics: No matter whether you train with your own body weight, with dumbbells, resistance bands, or other equipment – whenever we move a dumbbell, barbell, or even our body weight, we strain our organism. This is because the muscles tense up, and the tension depends on the weight.

That is what studies say about time under tension

For a long time, the motto was that a slow movement with a correspondingly long time under tension was particularly the best for building muscles. But a study published a few years ago impressively proved the opposite:

  • Test persons had to undergo strength training for several weeks.
  • Both groups of probands made the bench press.
  • One group should take 4 seconds during the concentric as well as the eccentric phase. The other group should work in a 2-second rhythm.
  • The Result: The 2-second group had significantly higher performance increases.
  • The explanation: In the 2-second group, the release of the hormone IGF-1 was significantly higher. And it is precisely this IGF-1 that has muscle-building effects.

An important tip for beginners

Anyone who has done bench press knows how fast the 2-second rhythm is. Therefore an essential tip: If you are a beginner or do a new movement in strength training, the correct execution of the movement is more important than the speed of the movement. Otherwise, the risk of injury is much too high. Therefore, it only makes sense to increase the speed of movement. The golden rule in strength training is technique before rate.

The eccentric phase is more important than the concentric phase (©apdic)

Watch the eccentric phase

In most strength exercises, the individual movement phases are divided into concentric and eccentric phases. Let’s stick to bench pressing. If you lift the weight up, it is the concentric phase. If you lower the weight, it is the eccentric phase. Research has shown that most people in training neglect the eccentric phase. This is not surprising because of gravity. The eccentric phase is usually performed much faster and often with a bad technique. This is not only bad for your joints but also for the training effect. Especially in the eccentric phase, you can develop much more strength.

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