Muscle Growth Series #3: 3 Reasons TUT Training is KEY For Muscle Growth
So in the last blog post I spoke about the importance of range of motion when it comes to building more muscle. We talked about increasing your efficiency with a movement, recruiting MORE muscle fibers and the doors that increasing your range of motion opens up. The next note of execution a certain exercise comes with increasing the amount of time in which you are loading the muscle.
Before we get into why it helps you build muscle, I want to define this style of training and give some examples. Time Under Tension (TUT) training involves increasing the “negative” of an exercise or when the muscle is being stretched but can also include increasing the opposite motion as well. The time range should fall between 40 and 50 seconds usually for the most optimal range. In a typical exercise/movement there are two motions people think about when doing an exercise: the eccentric and concentric contractions. The eccentric contraction is the lengthening of the muscle, while the concentric is the shortening of the muscle.
An example of these two contractions is best seen in a squat. The eccentric in a squat is when you are descending toward the ground while the concentric is when you’re coming back up. Another example is in a bicep curl where the eccentric is the bicep literally getting longer as the weight goes farther away from your body, while the concentric is pulling the bicep back toward your body.
So to do TUT training, simply take more time during each of these motions and you’ll see more muscle gains.
But why does this work? Why EXACTLY does this help us gain more muscle?
There are 3 main reasons I want to cover:
TUT Training Increases The Stimulus For Growth
When we elongate the amount of time the muscles are under tension between these two contractions, we are giving a greater stimulus for growth. We’re encouraging more small tears in the muscle fibers so that with proper nutrition and recovery, they’d grow back bigger and stronger. Often, with TUT training you’re going to be pretty sore in the beginning, especially if you’ve never done this style of training before. You are placing the external load (the weight) on the muscle in a unique way so to adapt to this stress, the muscle grows to accommodate this load. This phenomenon is why you’ll feel pretty sore at first, then the next week not as sore and so forth. If your muscle is NOT adapting you will experience lots of soreness often that doesn’t seem to improve. In that case, it may be time to dial back a bit, look at your stress levels, nutrition, sleep and the intensity/volume of your program to figure out why you aren’t recovering sufficiently.
If we especially elongate the eccentric “negative” portion of the exercise, we will REALLY influence the muscle to grow because we are forcing the muscle to handle loads at longer lengths than it’s used to doing. Growing muscle is all about applying the right amount stress to the muscles, recovering from it and proceeding to adapt for the next time around. Rinse and repeat. And with TUT training you can apply this cycle with submaximal or not as heavy weights. It’s all about the amount of time that muscle is loaded for the entirety of the set and increasing that time period, even with lighter weights. As long as we can perform the exercise for a total time of 40 - 50 seconds, we’re golden.
TUT Training BULLETPROOFS Your Execution
I mentioned earlier that I TUT training myself and for my clients who are trying to grow muscle. In the big lifts (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) I believe the execution is JUST as important to the overall strength of the individual. You can be strong as hell, but if your execution is trash, you’ll just get hurt eventually. TUT training helps you learn how to perform the exercise well and with as little fault as possible. You are teaching yourself how to do the exercise because you are learning how to control every part of your body during. You are teaching your body to move as one unit.
When you take the time to OWN your execution, you are HIGHLY increasing the chances that you will build muscle long-term.
Because when shit gets rough with heavy weights, your proprioceptive (6th sense of what your body is doing without you being able to see it) capabilities will be on point.
Why does this matter?
Usually when I train someone and correct a fault in their execution they usually go “Wait, what? I was doing that? I didn’t even notice…”
An example of a slight fault is:
Sure, this is a SLIGHT technique fault. The knee is going in and the hip is popping out a bit.
The big deal comes 100,000 lunges later when the sheer force on the inner parts of your knee have had enough, your IT Band is pissed and it hurts to lunge. If we can fix this issue early on, we can grow MORE muscle later on.
Chances are there things YOU are doing in your lifts that you don’t even realize. Why don’t you realize it? Well because you got 300 pounds on your back and you’re just trying to move it up and down. But if you take the time to bulletproof that execution and lower weights with TUT training, you can grow muscle and hone in on your execution at the same damn time. It’s really a win-win! You’re setting yourself up for long-term gains.
TUT Training is Doable For EVERYONE, Especially Post-Injury!
Since TUT Training uses submaximal weights just about ANYONE can do it. I believe TUT Training is one of the best ways to build muscle for those who are just starting because you can see SERIOUS gains early on by taking advantage of newbie gains. When you’re just starting strength training your body is unfamiliar with it and you can see some huge gains in the very beginning because of this. Throwing some TUT training on TOP of that newness will SERIOUSLY propel your gains.
I also TUT training with people who are getting over injuries to grow muscle because it helps them identify (quite literally) their pain points and limits for certain movements. They reconnect with those injured areas and ACTUALLY FEEL the muscles working. An excellent example are a group of muscles that are usually VERY weak in the general population: the rotator cuff muscles.
You see, hypertrophy of your bigger muscles is important for sure, but when we neglect these smaller muscles, they ATROPHY and get weak. This WILL eventually cause pain or leaks in your bigger lifts. Your shoulder is LITERALLY held together by these muscles (in addition to the subscapularis which is on the front side of your shoulder in the armpit area). Building strong rotator cuff muscles secures your shoulder and will GUARANTEE better lifts and movement. These smaller muscles love high volume, low intensity training. That means TUT is PERFECT for growing these muscles.
You ever do this exercise:
Or some version of it with both hands and felt the burn on the FRONT of your shoulder?
Not feel anything at all?
Yeah, that’s common. Just about ALL my clients had (keyword, had) very little control of those muscles. Sometimes when we lose mind-muscle connection with certain muscles in our body, it takes a lot of work just to FEEL them work. This is the price of negligence. TUT Training helps your mind and body re-connect. It helps you UNDERSTAND exactly HOW to feel muscles work. So applying this modality to training those smaller muscles in your body is the BEST way to train them in the beginning.
Of course we want to eventually progress to more dynamic and difficult movements but foundation is everything. Use TUT Training to build that muscle, then progress from there. Anyone and everyone can do this style!
So by now you see the importance of TUT Training for building more muscle. You build a better connection with your body, you bulletproof your technique and you give your muscles a strong stimulus for growth. In this context, slow and steady really does win the race to gains.
If you’re struggling to apply this kind of training in your program, or are unsure if it’s right for you, sign up for a 30 minute FREE strategy call HERE with me and let’s chat about it! I’ll teach you how to use it for your own program and how to progress with it as well. When used correctly, this style of training can be a GAME CHANGER.