Continuous Tension


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Continuous Tension Training Principle

Most of us are fully aware of the well-proven concept of TUT or Time Under Tension, which has shown itself as the main reason why a muscle gets bigger and stronger. The idea of training with continuous tension is certainly not a new one but together with some creative manipulation the concept of continuous tension training has improved a lot.

If we compare the days not so long ago when the squat rack and power racks at any gym were never used, today you will always find them busy because free weight training has finally got its place in the sun that it deserves. However there is still a very big part to play for machines when it comes to continuous tension training.

In muscle physiology there is a very specific concept that is talked about called the "length tension relationship" that refers to the amount of force a muscle can produce that is directly proportional to its length. Various different studies have now conclusively shown that this force is at its highest when in the mid-range of the movement.

The problem with training with free weights and cables is that they are gravity dependent or in the case of cables load-vector dependent. But machines are specifically designed to put constant tension on the full range of the motion with the use of the cam-based design.

If machines are used properly they can be a very powerful weapon, which can be added to your muscle-building arsenal. It certainly does not mean that there is no place for compound movements with free weights but that the use of machines when doing constant tension training can really make an enormous difference to the results that you get.

Developing maximum size and strength in a muscle means that you need to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible when doing an exercise. TUT relates to time and when doing continuous tension movements it is ONLY time that we are concerned with and not the reps or how many of them in a set.

Constant training techniques are something that should not be done every day as you will over train very quickly so it needs to be done randomly when you might be struggling to break through a plateau. The example below is how the constant tension training would be applied to a chest and triceps workout.

As you will see the constant training is added to a routine without counting reps as the mid-range partial movement is done only for 45 seconds with a rest of 60 seconds between sets. Lower the weight only to the point where the elbows are 90 degrees and NEVER lockout when doing constant tension.

EXERCISE                                 SETS   TIMING/REPS
Bench Press (mid-range)	                    3	45 seconds
Bench press (full range)                    2	6-8
Incline Dumbbell Press (mid-range)          3	45 seconds
Incline Dumbbell Press (full range)         2	6-8
Cable Crossover	                            4	8-10
EZ-Bar Skull-crusher (mid-range)	    2	6-8
EZ-Bar Skull-crusher (full range)	    4	10-12
Triceps Press-down	                    4	10-12


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