Time Under Tension
"Time Under Tension" is a time-proven, bodybuilding/powerlifting specific training style that can be utilized while lifting. The basic theory is that muscles need to be engaged for a longer period of time than what we're typically giving them through our traditional reps and sets. If the average lifter picks up some weights, knocks out eight reps quickly and then sets the weights down, it's possible they've done very little in the way of hypertrophy. Experienced lifters and bodybuilders like IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Josh Petrecky (@alwaysjjp_ifbbpro) and our other sponsored athletes use time under tension to squeeze maximum value out of every rep.
A quick reminder on muscle contractions to clarify the next section. Isometric contractions are contractions where your muscles are contracted but you're holding a certain position, like doing a pause rep. Concentric contractions are contractions where the muscle is shortening, such as the "up" movement of many lifts. Eccentric contractions are contractions where the muscle is elongating but there is still tension, such as the "down" movement of a rep.
Try this - to increase time under tension, three things can be done. They correlate perfectly to the three types of muscle contractions and can easily be incorporated into each rep. While you're lifting, count out the seconds that each contraction is taking place. For example, count 1-2-3 slowly as the weight moves up (concentric contraction), count a solid 1 second pause at the top (isometric contraction), count 1-2-3 slowly as the weight moves down (eccentric contraction), and count a solid 1 second pause at the bottom (isometric contraction). Now your single rep is maximized and you can continue your other reps.
Maximizing repetitions is difficult but extremely important. Using time under tension can be an effective way to supercharge your training, break plateaus if you're stuck, and ultimately make your muscles grow.