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The MuscleHelp Guide to Packing on Lean Mass With Time Under Tension

Did you know that the secret way to pack on pounds of lean mass at lightning speed is to work out more slowly? We know, it sounds crazy. It seems completely counterintuitive. But there's a lot of evidence to suggest that this seemingly ineffective technique is, in fact, one of the best things you can do to improve your physique. Here at, we are all about biohacking the human body to put as much muscle on ourselves as our bones can handle. And we want to help you do the same.

Time Under Tension

Time Under Tension Helps Build Muscle Fast

The secret were talking about - the secret to building muscle more quickly by lifting more slowly - is a concept called "time under tension" (or TUT for short). It's fairly self-explanatory. If you perform each exercise rep more slowly, thereby increasing the amount of time your muscles are under tension, you can increase the amount of progress you make in every single workout session.

We understand that for some of the most dedicated gym bros out there, this is some hard news to hear. After all, what's more satisfying then ripping through a set of heavy lifts and grunting like a beast so that everyone knows you're working harder than they are? As much as we all want to go fast, sometimes it pays off to slow down. And harnessing the benefits of time under tension is a great example of that.

How Does TUT Help You Build More Muscle Quickly?

There are two ways in which practicing time under tension can help improve the look of your physique. For starters, you'll be maximizing your fat burning potential with a time under tension workout. Doing short bursts of quick reps is good for depleting your muscles of glycogen quickly, but it's not going to help you hit that max calorie burn that you need to get really shredded. The slow, steady effort required for a TUT workout, on the other hand, helps you burn more calories when you're in the zone and makes higher-calorie demands of your metabolism while you are recovering from your workout. So time under tension helps you show off all those sexy new muscles by burning away the body fat that's hiding them in the first place.

The next thing that TUT does is that it destroys more of your muscle fibers per rep, per set, per workout. You see, the only way to build muscle is to do microscopic bits of damage to it by lifting heavy. When your body repairs this damage, it ends up building the muscle back bigger and stronger than it was before so that the next time you lift heavy things, you don't suffer as much damage. The more time your muscles spend under tension, the more damage you do in a shorter amount of time. You obviously don't want to go crazy with this to the point of seriously injuring yourself. But you do want to spend a reasonable amount of time performing each rep more slowly with solid, good form so that you can increase the effectiveness of your workouts.

MuscleHelp Experts Weigh In: How to Perform a TUT Workout

If you want to get the most bang for your rep, follow these muscle building tips to optimize your time under tension workout:

  1. Follow a 2/4/0 tempo. Let's use a bench press as an example. Spend 2 seconds lifting the bar off of your chest until your arms are almost fully extended, then spend 4 seconds slowly lowering the weight back down to your chest. Do not spend any time pausing between reps - just get right back into it!
  2. Choose the right amount of weight to lift. Start at around 60% of your ORM, or "one rep max". Going too heavy too quickly means you will compromise your form, not spend enough time under tension, cut your reps short, or some unfortunate combination of the above. Making any of these mistakes can shortchange your workout and slow down your gains. At the same time, you don't want to lift too light. Lifting too little means you won't be tearing up muscle fibers as much as you could - this will also slow down your gains.
  3. Keep your movements even. Avoid the temptation of the lockout. "Locking out" is when you rush through the most difficult part of a movement during a rep and, for example, spent 99% of those two seconds of your bench press lifting the bar those last two inches at the top of the movement. You should be lifting and lowering the weight at the exact same speed through the entire exercise.
  4. Don't go overboard. Time under tension is great if you feel like you are hitting a gains plateau and want to see a quick, substantial increase in size. But time under tension shouldn't be the only training you ever do. Variety is the spice of life, and TUT workouts should be one of many tools in your bodybuilding toolbox.
  5. Recovery time is I-M-P-O-R-T-A-N-T. We can't emphasize this enough. If you don't give your body enough time to recover completely after a time under tension workout, you're not going to see those quick, measurable gains in size. Give yourself an extra day of recovery time on top of what you normally would. Hell, treat yourself to a massage! Just don't rush your muscles back into the gym before they have finished healing. Otherwise, you'll likely end up deflating your muscles.

How to Enhance a TUT Workout

If you really want to make the most out of a time under tension workout, you need to start taking a pre and post-workout amino acid supplement. Ultra Edge XL is available in our web store and, in our humble opinion, is one of the better options available for sale today. When you do a lot of time under tension damage to your muscles in a short amount of time, you're going to need a lot of amino acids to repair that damage. Ultra Edge XL is chock-full of them. One of the most important is l-arginine which, in addition to building more muscle, helps increase nitric oxide in your bloodstream for more blood flow. You aren't just delivering more of the amino acids that your muscles need to repair themselves and get bigger and stronger - you're delivering more of those nutrients more quickly to the parts of your body where they are needed most. And is the best place to find a good deal on supplements like Ultra Edge XL.