Five Reasons To Try TUL

Time under lift (TUL), sometimes called time under tension (TUT) is an alternative to the standard sets and reps method of training.  Instead of a set of ten reps, get yourself a stop watch and keep the weight moving for between 45 and 60 seconds.

Here’s five reasons why you should try it:

  1. No one cares how much weight you lift.  “How much do you bench?”.  That’s a common question among trainees.  But its meaningless.  No one is interested in the answer.  Don’t believe me?  Think of five people you know from your gym and tell me how much they bench.  Unless you are a competitive powerlifter I’ll bet that you have trouble answering this question for one person, let alone five.  The only person trainees are interested in is themselves.  That’s not a bad thing, its the way it should be.
  2. Permission to be strict.  If you drop the idea that you have to lift five more pound or one more rep than you did last week, you are less likely to let your form slip.  TUL has you chasing a feeling in your muscles, not an arbitrary target.  The powerlifters might argue but I am not talking about the powerlifters.  I’m talking to the guys who want to look good and stay in shape.
  3. The point of failure.  This goes back to the point about strict exercise form from the last point.  Do you want to train to failure?  I do, at least some of the time.  Failure gets hard to define when form degrades.  However, when the bar stops moving no matter how hard you push it, and you try to push it for the final five or ten seconds of a TUL set, failure has been reached.
  4. Injuries. Injuries suck.  No question about it.  Accidents happen and there is no way to avoid 100% of all training related problems but when you maintain strict form for a limited period of time you are less likely to wind up on the shelf due to a pull, a strain, or a tear.  Strict form also reduces the wear on your joints.  Ever see someone bounce out of the bottom of a heavy squat?  I have and my knees hurt just watching that guy.
  5. Mix it up.  Maybe you don’t want to switch to TUL permanently.  But why not try it?  Changing things up from time to time keeps it fresh, keeps the motivation high and keeps your body guessing.




photo credit: Stopwatch via photopin (license)

Twice now in the past seven days…

…I’ve read an article touting the benefits of increased workload.

I have nothing against more work, but both authors mentioned the same idea in support of the call for more reps, sets, or workouts.  The idea is that overtraining is a difficult state to achieve for all but the most gifted of athletes.

I don’t know if that is true or not, but I think it misses the point.  The point should be, why should you do more when you don’t have to?  That might sound like the statement of a lazy person or someone who does not like to train hard.

But that aint me!

The law of diminishing returns states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant (“ceteris paribus“), will at some point yield lower incremental per-unit returns.  The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production, a condition known as negative returns, though in fact this is common.

Source – Wikipedia

I want to make progress.  I’ve spent the last thirty years chasing it.  I’ve gone through the extremes of six days per week double-split training and once per Mike Mentzer HIT style training.  The difference between the two has been more about what’s been accomplished outside the gym than inside.

More work beyond what’s necessary is counterproductive on some level.  If it doesn’t result in the damaging “overtrained” state, it takes time away from other things we all need to do.  Family, friends and work.

And write blog posts that two or three people might actually read.

Thanks for being one of them

photo credit: 27 push-ups later via photopin (license)

Do You Keep A Food Diary?

Keeping a training diary is easy.  Anyone who takes their workouts seriously does that.  Keeping a food diary is hard.  You eat four, five, even six times a day, every day and only train a few times a week.  Food diaries take true dedication.

Fortunately, there are shortcuts to make the process easier to handle.

Step 1 – Establish a consistent diet.  I understand if you deviate on the weekends, but during your workweek it makes sense to keep your diet consistent from day to day.  Eat similar foods, if not the exact same foods and quantities every day.  If you do that you don’t have to track five days, you only have to track one.  It makes the whole process so much easier.

Step 2 – Write it down.  I don’t recommend going straight to the app or the spreadsheet.  I like notebooks. Keep a notebook with you and write it down.  Write down what you eat, the approximate portions.   You don’t need a food scale.  Just take a guess.  Also keep track of the times that you eat during the day.  Charting the timing of your calories can mean as much as the calorie and protein counts.

Step 3 – Put the calories and macros in Excel.  I said don’t go straight to the spreadsheet.  I didn’t say to avoid it entirely.

After you have a few days or even a week of your eating written down, its time to put it in a spreadsheet.  I like columns for grams of protein, carbs and fat as well as calories.  Have your spreadsheet subtotal each meal.  As long as you follow step 1 above and stay consistent, you don’t have to write up each and every day. You only have to know the breakdown of your “base” diet.  Slight fluctuations from day to day are not important as long as you are holding steady in general.

Step 4 – Weigh yourself.  Do it weekly.  Do it at the same time of day.  Write it down.  After a few weeks you will be able to get an idea of how the scale is moving.  Week to week numbers are not so important.  Its the trend over months that gives you feedback.

Step 5 – Adjust.  If you followed the above four steps, you can tell if you are eating too much, too little, or just the right amount.  Ideally, you will figure out how much you need to maintain.  After that you can fine tune.

Fine tuning is a skill.  Don’t overreact to the changes on the scale.  Up or down a few hundred calories is enough.