When you are trying to build upper body muscle there is a well kept secret that no one talks about that has a huge impact on your results. Okay, maybe it’s not necessarily a secret intentionally being kept from you but definitely a little known concept that absolutely does affect your success in your muscle building efforts. The concept is called “time under tension” and if you want to build upper body muscle, you need to understand the role it plays in your exercise routine.
First, let’s cover what time under tension means. In very basic terms it refers to the amount of time the muscle is under stress/tension in your exercise move. An easier way to think of it is: the time it takes to complete the number of reps involved within each set?
Now this brings to mind something I see at the gym constantly. See if this story sounds familiar to you. You’re at the gym doin’ your routine and out of the corner of your eye something catches your attention. When you turn to look, you see it’s a freak throwing weight up and down to a 200 beat per minute tempo with no regard to the speed of his move. Like a drag racer he’s finished his 10 rep set in 10 seconds flat. This practice will not build upper body muscle. At most it will only work to add a little strength but more so has the major potential for injury.
What needs to occur when you lift weights to build muscle is to put your muscles in a hypotrophy state. That’s a condition where a growth and increase in size of the muscle cells occur. To achieve that state you need to slow your move down. 40 to 70 seconds of “time under tension” allows to that to happen.
Here’s the best way to hit your time under tension mark. When you perform the reps of each exercise, here is your tempo pattern using the bench press as an example. On your lift, push the weight up in a 1 to 2 second burst of power then pause and hold for one second before releasing the weight. As you release, do so to a 3 to 4 second count and then pause for one second before beginning your next rep. Repeat all of your reps in this manner. On an 8 rep set the time under tension would fall somewhere between 48 to 64 seconds. The perfect zone for you to get your muscle cells in a growth and increase state.
So slow and control your movement. Set a tempo to build upper body muscle and make some major advances in gain. I’m sure you’ve got the rhythm now you just need to get the beat.
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