Time Under Tension: How to Speed Up Muscle Growth- Ep. 190

“Tempo workouts allow you to really focus on your form. You shouldn’t be wavering, your knees shouldn’t be buckling, and you shouldn’t be trying to squeeze out that last rep unless the form is perfect. If you don’t have good form, lower the weight. Any new range of motion is a weak range of motion.” – Rob Dionne


This week on the Open Sky Fitness Podcast, Devon and myself are going to go over an awesome method to help you build the strong muscles you want: Time Under Tension (TUT) workouts with tempo exercises.

Building muscles is just one benefit of these workouts, but they can also help you:

  • Have more control over your lifts and movements.
  • Achieve a full range of motion.
  • Increase the amount of time to heal the body.
  • Prevent injuries from ever happening.
Doing TUT workouts is really going to help impact your progress; especially if you’re new to lifting. As a beginner, there’s nothing better than slowing down and really focusing on your form.

What You’ll Learn

In this episode, we’ll also discuss:
  • Connective tissue: what it is and why it’s so important.
  • 3 different types of muscle contractions you need to know about.
  • How to use TUT in workouts via tempo and workout examples.
  • Specific tempo rates for different purposes.
  • The importance of doing a variety of different TUT workouts.
  • Benefits of doing accessory movements in addition to big movements.
  • How to use TUT and tempo workouts as a way to help your body heal.


What is Time Under Tension (TUT)?

Time Under Tension or TUT for short is an easy, straightforward method that is used for strength, conditioning, and bodybuilding workouts. In a nutshell, TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. A typical set example around is anywhere from 6-10 reps depending on what you want to work on whether that’s power, strength, hypertrophy, or endurance.

How does TUT work specifically? Essentially, these tempo exercises include both a muscular and hormone stimulations that occur when you lift heavier amounts for longer amounts of time. A tempo exercise triggers the release of hormones that tell the body it’s time to start growing muscle.

Common Tempo Exercises

Tempo exercises for a TUT workout incorporate compound movements in order to release a greater hormone response and stimulate the growth of more capillaries to deliver more nutrients to your muscles.

Exercise examples include any lower body or full body movements such as squats or deadlifts.

TUT workouts allow you to take a step back and improve your body awareness because it forces you to slow down and really focus on each individual movement.

Healing Connective Tissue with TUT

Not only do TUT workouts help to build muscle, they also help heal it. In general, connective tissue i.e. tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues don’t heal fast because doesn’t have a large blood supply compared to muscles. Through tempo exercises, you can change your vascular system to not only help grow more muscle but also increase the amount of blood flow due to the greater amount of capillaries now.

Examples of TUT Workouts


“Once you start your tempo set, you cannot rack your weights and take a break. The point is to keep moving. If you have to take a break, then your weights are too heavy and you have to lower the amount in order to reach your goal.” – Rob Dionne


To begin, there are 3 different types of muscle contractions that you need to know about:
  • Concentric – shortening of the muscle
  • Eccentric – lengthening of the muscle
  • Isometric – static hold of the muscle
A tempo exercise can either be completed in 3 or 4 movements by following this order:
  • 1st number – Eccentric
  • 2nd number – Isometric
  • 3rd number – Concentric
  • 4th number (optional) – Isometric


On a workout, you’ll see it written various ways depending on the purpose of the exercise. For example, if you see 4-2-1 tempo written out it means:

  • 4 counts of an eccentric movement and hold
  • 2 counts of an isometric movement and hold.
  • 1 count of a concentric movement and hold

All the counts from 4-2-1 tempo add up to a total of 7 seconds and then 8 rounds of this tempo exercise is a total of 56 minutes for the entire TUT workout. 


Other examples include:

  • 5-2-5-1
    • 5 counts of an eccentric movement and hold; 2 counts of an isometric movement and hold; 5 counts of a concentric movement and hold; 1 count of an isometric hold.
  • 5-0-5-0
    • This order means no isometric pauses at all and you’re always moving.
  • 2-0-X
    • Instead of 2-0-0, it can be written as 2-0-X. This order tells you to “go as fast as possible” and X is just 1 count of the concentric hold.

Specific Tempo Rates for Different Purposes

Depending on what you want to accomplish, you can fo specific TUT tempo rates to get the results you want:

  • Power, 5-10 seconds of TUT with 2-0-X tempo
  • Strength, 10-30 seconds of TUT, 2-0-2 tempo for example
  • Hypertrophy,  30-60 seconds of TUT, 5-0-5 tempo for example
  • Endurance, anything over 60 seconds of TUT

Be sure to mix up the tempos. You don’t have to do all of your workouts following the exact same TUT tempo. 


When to Recover or Increase Weights

Recovery time is vital in between TUT workouts. Make sure you take time off in between each workout to allow your muscles to properly rest. 

TUT is going to help you build and strengthen this connective tissue for life and it allows your muscles to be able to truly express their power. Building connective tissue is going to help build up your strength and put you at your healthiest state; just focusing on muscles alone isn’t enough.

You can increase your weights by 5-10 pounds every time you do a tempo workout. If you can’t do the workout with the increased amount of weight, then drop back down by 5 pounds.




Get on our waiting list to sign up for our next 8 Week Sky Fit Challenge that will start on April 23, 2018!

The challenge consists of:

  • 8 Weeks of Equipment Free Bodyweight Workouts in 20 minutes or less. (No gym membership required)
  • SIMPLE Whole Food Meal Plan w/Tasty Recipe Cookbook Featuring 60+ recipes!
  • Foolproof Schedule so you know EXACTLY what you’re supposed to do every day.
  • Access to our New Private Facebook Group – Sky Fit Challenge Group to share your progress with everyone as well as receive support and be held accountable.

Look Out For Our Upcoming

Throw Back Thursday Podcast Episodes!


We’ll be releasing new podcasts episodes on Thursdays that discuss previous episodes we’ve done, but we need your help! Go to the  Open Sky Fitness Facebook Group and tell us what your favorite episodes are. Then, Devon and I will re-listen to that episode, pick out the best parts and share even more insights on the topic.

We won’t just be regurgitating the same information over again. Since we began this podcast, there’s so much more information out their on health, nutrition, fitness, and personal wellness. So, each Thursday we’ll really just be going deeper into your favorite topics!


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What You’ll Hear on This Episode

00:00 Open Sky Fitness Introduction

1:15  Opening comments with Rob and Devon

1:30 Check out last week’s show – OSF 189 – Adam Schaeuble: Creating Your Own Lifestyle Rehabilitation Statement and Plan

2:20 Shout out to our Sky Fit Challenge participants!

6:30 Check out our Open Sky Fitness Podcast Group on Facebook

7:00 Big news!! We’re having a baby girl in August!

8:00 Today’s topic: Time Under Tension.

11:40  Connective tissue: what it is and why it’s so important.

15:00 3 different types of muscle contractions you need to know about.

17:30 How to use TUT in workouts via tempo and workout examples.

22:50 How do you know how much time you actually need per rep?

24:30  How much weight should you be lifting?

26:00 Working sets vs. warm-ups

28:40  The importance of recovery time either in between sets or visits to the gym + the importance of having a gym partner.

30:30 The benefits of tempo workouts

31:00 Tools and extra tips for successful tempo workouts.

35:00 Specific tempo rates for different purposes.

38:00 The importance of doing a variety of different TUT workouts.

39:10  Accessory movement examples in addition to big movements

40:00 How to use TUT and tempo workouts as a way to help your body heal.

45:50  Closing comments with Rob and Devon

47:00 Subscribe and leave us an iTunes review if you like.

48:00 Continue this conversation with our The Open Sky Fitness Podcast Group on Facebook

49:50 Open Sky Fitness Closing



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Thanks for listening/reading Episode 190 – Time Under Tension: How to Speed Up Muscle Growth! We hope you have gained more knowledge on how to be a healthier you.

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