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Q: What is the value of time under tension and tempo training?

7210-mhp1Q: What is the value of time under tension and tempo training?

A: Time under tension refers to the amount of time the muscle is held under mechanical tension by resisting a load. There are numerous variables that contribute to the type of adaptation elicited by this loading, but the duration of tension is key among them. Increasing time under tension is an easy way to improve your strength, namely via hypertrophy. It can be done in several ways.

Two of the simplest methods are setting a tempo for the lift or increasing the number of repetitions. The tempo can be very precise, as Charles Poliquin might prescribe, or it can be a generic prescription like, “Just hold it longer or move slowly.” Poliquin usually prescribes a particular tempo for the various phases of his lifts. If you don’t have time to read up on that, just lift a given weight through a full range of motion fairly slowly.

The second method is the “repetition-effort method,” which isolates the “D” (distance) variable of the power equation. In simplest terms, perform more reps at a given weight.


Editor’s note: Ben White won his first IFBB professional bodybuilding contest, the Tampa Pro, in 2010. He is also a champion powerlifter and frequently competes in the World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest at the Olympia. His best competition bench press is 711 pounds. He is an MPH athlete,  IM


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