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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.