The Secrets of King Tut - T.U.T. (Time Under Tension)
You probably didn't know that the young king had a few lifting secrets. After all, how much could a 9-year-old know? He was only running the superpower of his timehe had to know something. Well good ole Tut had some secrets, even Joe Weider would be surprised at what Tutankhamen knew. All rightso King Tut really didn't know anything about fitness. For God sakes he died at 18, how the hell could he have known anything about fitness? I know some say he was murdered, but if that is the case, he obviously wasn't big enough to fight for his life, so he's not a good example of fitness.
However, T.U.T. (time under tension) is a great tool for breaking into the next level of your fitness progress. I am assuming most of you have heard of T.U.T., but for those of you that are new let me briefly explain. T.U.T. is the time your muscle is under tension during any movement. For example: while doing a biceps curl, keep an eye on the clock (with a second hand), the moment you begin to curl the weight to the moment you stop curling the weight reflects your T.U.T. for that movement. So if it takes you ten seconds from beginning to end your T.U.T. is ten seconds. Easy huh?
The idea is to work with T.U.T. just as you would with your movements changing from time to time to create a new stimulus for your muscles. As we all know, one of the keys to growth and development is the constant change in the way we train our muscles. T.U.T. is just one of those methods. Alternating from super slow to a regular speed can have a great affect on you growth. You can start by finding out what your current time under tension is. Are you a fast lifter or a slow lifter? You may be surprised at what you find out. Now I certainly don't expect everyone to walk around with a stopwatch for a month, but I do suggest you find a way to determine your average T.U.T. For those of you that are extremely anal about your workouts I would assume you have already determined your average T.U.T.
Another way to quickly determine your T.U.T. is to add up your rep tempo. For example a 1-2-1 tempo adds up to 4 seconds, multiply that by 8 and each set has a T.U.T. of approximately 32 seconds. This method works if you have been keeping track of tempo, which is a completely different article if you are unclear of what tempo is. Once you have analyzed your numbers and determined an average, you will need to look at where it is you want to go with your training. Are you looking at strength or hypertrophy? What are your current goals? This will help you adjust your T.U.T. to meet those goals. Charles Poliquin, a strength and conditioning coach, has come up with these numbers as a guide to help us determine our T.U.T.
1) If you train for relative strength, TUT [time-under-tension] should be under 20 seconds,
2) if you train for hypertrophy, TUT should be around 40-70 seconds
These numbers are base on a full set. In other words your T.U.T. should total between 40-70 seconds per set for hypertrophy, which is what most of us are looking for. Growth! As with any new toy you will want to play with it right away, but keep in mind that T.U.T. should be used within your program. You will not be able to identify its success or failure if you are not consistent with it or introduce too many other new variables to your training at the same time. Additionally, don't be afraid to work with the numbers. What works for each individual will be different. I may need to stay within 50-second sets and you may need 70-second sets. And yes, some of you may even need to go to 80 seconds. As with any variable to training, T.U.T. should be experimented with for your goals. Muscle growth is not about magic numbers or pills, but it is about hard work and determination.
Here is how I would incorporate T.U.T. to maximize my training efforts. Let's use the bench press for this example, as that seems to be everyone's favorite. My particular tempo should be 1-3-1. This allows me to reach a 50-second T.U.T. if I perform 10 reps. There is the likelihood that you could work a 1-3-3-1 tempo, but that would be for the more advanced lifter. This method would decrease the speed of the press, but would increase your T.U.T. to a full 70-seconds for 10 reps. As I continue on my chest work I would use the same T.U.T. rules for each exercise. Keeping in mind that I may have to adjust the amount of weight used to perform the exercises with proper form. This seems to be the biggest struggle when people decide to use T.U.T. as a training tool. No one wants to reduce the weight they are using for fear of looking like a wimp. When in realityif you do this for a short 4-6 week period you should see increases on the other side. Allowing you show off again at the bench station!
So King Tut really didn't' have much to do with any of this. He really didn't have much to do with anything come to think of it. The kid only ruled for 9 years. Perhaps if he spent some more time in the gym he might have been more likely to live longer.