Want to see more results from your workouts? Try increasing your time under tension.
There are many ways to make sure your workouts stay challenging (because the last thing you want is boredom and plateau). You could try out new routines, increase your reps/load/work duration while shortening your rest time, incorporate new moves or different types of movements, or do tougher variations.
But the one tweak that’s often overlooked is actually pretty darn simple. You don’t have to add fancy new moves, and will definitely see results by doing this.
Increase your time under tension
Instead of letting go immediately or moving at your usual pace, try slowing down and doing the exercise with more control, especially during the eccentric (muscle contraction) phase, or the most difficult part of the exercise. For instance, pushing back into plank during a push-up, lowering your forearm after a bicep curl, and returning to standing position from a squat. We know, taking your exercise slow-mo isn’t fun or easy, but it’s worth it.
We call this increasing your time under tension, and this principle is well-loved because it’s a nifty way to gain more from your workout without increasing reps or work time. One way to keep track of your time under tension is to count. When releasing a bicep curl, try counting “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand” slowly as you lower your forearm. You can increase the counting when the movement starts to feel easy.
Why it works
When you move slowly during the muscle contraction phase of an exercise, it inadvertently leads to more muscle engagement, more controlled movement and better form. As a result, you will expend more energy, build more muscles and become stronger than expected.