How To Know When You’re Training For Strength, Mass, or Endurance – Set Timing Technique


What’s your fitness goal?

Want to get bigger, stronger or leaner?

If so, then the “time under tension” concept is something that you need to pay attention to. This is something very rarely talked about in fitness circles.

By just focusing on the total amount of time during each set, you can train your muscles to respond in the appropriate way.

The more you make this a habit, the quicker you will reach your goal (either weight loss, strength building or muscle mass).

The obvious next question is:

How to know if you’re training for mass, strength or endurance

Well, you can do this by manipulating rest, reps and set time. However, there is also another more powerful way. In simple terms, this is done by changing your set timing technique. This is what’s known as “time under tension”.

TUT is a way to calculate the total amount of work that you place on your muscles. It also refers to the amount of resistance you place on your muscles for a given set.

For example, you have the concentric phase of a movement and the eccentric phase (see the video for a clear example). If both phases took 3 seconds to complete, the TUT time for that repetition is 6 seconds.

So, if your set includes 10 reps, then each set contains 60 seconds of time under tension. Obviously, if you work faster, then the TUT will be shorter (and give you different results).

Why TUT matters to you

It is important so that you train in the right range to meet your goals (either building muscle mass, strength or muscular endurance).

Let’s look at what the recent studies show us:

  • If your goal is strength – aim for 1-6 reps per set, with 20 seconds of less TUT.
  • If your goal is muscle mass – aim for 8-12 reps per set, with 60 seconds TUT.
  • If your goal is endurance – aim for 15-30 reps per set with 90 seconds TUT.

If you are not falling into the right rep range, then you will actually be training your body for another goal. For obvious reasons, you need to know what you are doing in each rep, so you can adjust your TUT for your stated goals.

As such, you can see that this information is very valuable to ensure you stay on track and hit your goals. TUT will let you train for your specific goals.

This means you will need a stopwatch or to use a partner to keep track of time.

On caveat: Always vary your workouts

If you have seen my other videos, then you will know that I advocate muscle confusion. I like to say: “keep your muscles guessing – keep your muscle growing”.

This means that you still need to make changes to your workouts as you progress. Never simply stick to one type of workout program, as your body will soon adapt.

In terms of TUT, you should vary the time and the rep numbers, but stay within your target range.

Start Applying TUT in your workout

Start to think about the amount of time your muscles are under tension. This can be done during every repetition that you work through.

If you start to focus on a specific number of seconds for each rep, you will find your muscles respond in a much more specific way (in line with your goals).

Let’s get fit together!