This post is a follow-on from my Tips to Supercharge your Workout post in February this year. I strongly recommend that you re-read and really understand that initial post first and apply the steps before applying these new ones. Rome was not built-in a day and it’s important to have a strong foundation first, in order to build and advance on.
I had some great feedback from those tips and now it’s time to take some of the principles and expand on them to give your bow a few more strings in the quest for maximizing results and interest from your workouts.
Just a word of warning that I go into depth a little here and it’s pretty advanced stuff, which will apply more to the advanced trainers of you out there. No-one allowed to tell me to bore off when I next see them.
So if we look back to Tips 1 and 2, you’ve got them covered right. You have got a training diary (Tip 1) and you are actually using it to document your every move. You know what weights and reps and TUT (if you don’t know what TUT is you have not read the article have you!) you used on that Monday afternoon workout three weeks ago and can see how you have got stronger now. Good work, you can now see your progress and are setting your sail for great results.
You have applied the periodization (Tip 2) and after week four of the same workout routine, you switched it a little to avoid plateauing and boredom and to really keep your body guessing, and progressing.
Remember if you always do the same routine over and over again then you are opening yourself up for injuries from missing out on stimulating your muscles and their supporting muscles in continually different pathways. This is especially true for people who use machines all the time as they are fixed into a limited range of motion, so the body gets very strong in that motion and the person thinks they are strong in everyday life.
BUT, when they are challenged in a real life situation of say picking up a heavy item, they get a muscle pull or worse (a tear). Change workouts, change sets, change the order of exercises (Tip 4), change reps (Tip 5), change the order of which muscles are worked first, every four weeks! Ok, point made and you probably knew that already so let’s get to the cool, geeky stuff.
Tip 3 about TUT or Time Under Tension is where I am going to be focusing today. I am a big advocate of using TUT and variations of it to mix things up and here’s a few ideas of how to….. ONCE you have the principles of TUT nailed!
You will remember that first number applies to the negative or eccentric part of the lift. With a Countdown Negative we will predetermine the number of reps we will do FIRST and the Negative time will decrease with every rep.
If doing a set of Squats for 6 reps we would assign a 6 to rep one, a 5 to rep two, and 4 to rep three and so on down to 1 on the sixth rep.
If we then fill in the other three parts of the TUT (Hope you are following this, you may need a read a few times, I know I did writing it 😉 we will come to something like this as they stay the same for the entire set.
Rep 2 – TUT 52X1
Rep 3 – TUT 42X1
Rep 4 – TUT 32X1
Rep 5 – TUT 22X1
Rep 6 – TUT 12X1
The emphasis here is on control and focus with every rep. Think form. Rep 1 is a controlled descent in the Squat for (6 ) seconds, a pause at the bottom of the movement for (2) seconds, then a controlled explosion (X) of the weight up to the starting point and then a pause of (1) there, before starting rep two with a 5 second negative.
When doing this for the first time use a weight that is lighter than you would usually use for 6 reps, note in your diary how it felt and then progress when needed.
Naturally you can use this for any exercise and it really tests your bodies limits if you pick the right weight. You can also do this for any number of reps. A 10 rep Countdown Negative in the bench press is a killer, and trying it with a 6 rep chin will add strength and reps to your normal chins after using this protocol for 4 weeks.
Now some of you may ask if you can use the Countdown principle on the positive part of the TUT or on the pause parts? The answer is of course, there are no limits, and that is the beauty of TUT training once you are conscious of it as you can always change the stimulus and impact of an exercise with some small tweaks.
Play with the figures and document them and you are hitting each exercise from every angle, which means a stronger, fitter, leaner, injury proof you. To coin a phrase often used these days…. BOOM!!
Q – How can TUT make a difference?
A – To use an example here of 6 reps with a barbell bicep curl first using a TUT of 1111, the total set time would be 24 seconds (1+1+1+1 x 6 = 24)
Another set of 6 reps with the same exercise with a TUT of 4212 gives us a different story. Same 6 reps but now muscles have worked for 54 seconds, over twice as long (4+2+1+2 x 6 + 54), so more stimulus.
Naturally weight selection needs to be accounted for depending on the TUT used.
You’ve now read about the Countdown Negatives and have worked them into your workouts (yes we are fast forwarding a few weeks/months here) and want to add a different dimension.
Here it is, we are going to add a stop pause into the Negative at a different time in every rep. This will help to add strength throughout the whole of the exercise movement and develop a much stronger platform for that exercise when you go back to training with it conventionally.
Lets take the bench press for this example. The TUT we will use now is 6111.
Once the TUT is decided, we will decide on the Stop time. This will depend on how adventurous we are feeling and how satanic we are feeling. I would also strongly recommend using a training partner with this protocol.
Lets say we want a 4 second stop. This stop time will go into the negative count once at a different second in every rep. So if the negative part is 6 (as it is in a TUT of 6111) then we will Stop for 4 seconds on the first part of the six count, then progress for the other 5 seconds down after that stop.
On rep two the stop happens at second 2 of the 6 and we stop for 4 seconds before progressing for the other 4 seconds afterwards. For the bright amongst you, you will see that the negative actually lasts for 10 seconds (6+4)…. So now you can see where the brutality comes in….. mu-hahahaha
You will also notice that the stop happens at a different part of each rep (if you are properly controlling the weight), so this stop will build strength and stimulate more muscle fibres than conventional training alone.
Yes you can mutate this by doing Stop Positives too, to really blast those dormant muscle motor units that will fire up for possibly one of the first times in your life. It’s all about recruiting as many of these little guys as you can to get Maximum results!!
Well congratulations on making it through this heavy post. We will record some videos to make it all a little easier to understand soon.
Play with TUT and you may see progress that you have not seen in years. Have fun, Supercharge your workouts and maybe Superhero-ness will soon become a reality.
Tom @ UCB
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