The Little Secret To Building Muscle
When it comes to muscular hypertrophy, time under tension is the name of the game but using it to your advantage is the secret. Understand that most research and great books out there revolve around gaining strength for sport so I can see how it would be easy to miss the secret component that bodybuilders have been using for ever. Start using this secret and you will see a big difference in your physique.
8-12 repetitions or more specifically 10 repetitions (at around 65% of 1rm) has been widely known for years to be the ideal repetition range in order to build muscle. But here’s the problem the problem is the tempo we use today fluctuates and throws people out of hypertrophy zone. Let me explain;
As people get more experienced they tend to start to increase the speed at which they lift at every set in order to reach the desired number of repetitions. Their tempo on a bench press goes from 3-1-2 (3 seconds down-1 second hold-2 seconds up) to 1-0-1 (1 second down -0 seconds pause-1 second up).
The impact of this means less hypertrophy. Let’s say you’re doing 8 repetitions for hypertrophy with the first tempo above; that’s 48 seconds of time under tension; a great hypertrophy range. Now on your second set you speed it up to the second tempo to make it 16 seconds of time under tension. That’s really working in the 2-3 rep range that will create more of a neural stimuli and won’t create enough fiber instability and micro trauma to deliver hypertrophy.
So here’s what you do:
I’ve seen huge improvement in muscle gain by many people including myself simply changing 1 thing: By not worrying about how many repetitions you’re doing and putting the focus on timing your sets to the correct time under tension for your desired result.
If you want to build muscle, set a timer anywhere in the range of 48 seconds to 60 seconds and perform your set. Because you are stronger in isometric (hold) and in the eccentric (lowering) portion of a lift, do your first set at a faster tempo, slow the second set down during the eccentric part of the movement and the third slow it down and add a pause. Even if you only get 3 reps out of it, go until the buzzer stops and you will have been working in the right time under tension range.
Try it, you will see.