Your workout is nothing without time under tension. In the simplest terms, it is the duration of time during a repetition that you are stressing with the weight. I’m sorry, not Tutankhamun the Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty…
TIME UNDER TENSION.
The most commonly known time of tension is the concentric movement phase, which is the part that most people associate with lifting weights. The ‘up’ movement on a squat, the ‘press’ movement on bench press, the ‘curl’ movement in a bicep curl. People focus so hard on this phase that they forget all about the other half of the lift, the eccentric movement, which is referred to as the return phase. Letting the bar down towards your chest on the bench press can be just as important as pressing it off of your chest.
The best way to execute lifts with a good level of time under tension is simply to focus on the movement of your muscles, not just the movement of the bar or weights. Too many times people will worry about doing anything they can to move the bar, and this causes them to recruit other muscles, taking stress off of the muscle they are intending to work. If you are performing a bicep curl and instead of focusing on moving the dumbbell, you focus on actually contracting your bicep and using the muscle to move the weight, it will help you from recruiting other muscles that will help you ‘cheat’ the rep.
A great way to think of time under tension is with a 1:2 concentric:eccentric movement. For instance, if pressing the bar off of your chest during a rep of bench press takes 1 second, bringing the bar back down to your chest should take 2 seconds. This will create a whole new level of stress on your muscles as they lengthen, drawing more blood in to your muscles, allowing for more muscle growth.
Give it a shot next time you workout, and see how sore you find yourself the next day!
I promise it will be worth it!