Time Under Tension

Time Under Tension

This was too long for Twitter so:

At some point, muscles start to get used to the existing load, increasing time under tension via progressive overload is one method of muscle growth... but this is mostly mental, visualizing the finish line/visualizing the increased weight capacity, making it a sacred ritual without a phone if that's what you need to stay sane, where it’s you vs. you - for instance.

Our body follows our mind, progressive overload closely resembles the concept of time under tension but it's basically increasing the load so more time is not always needed (unless you want both more time spent training/more weight loads).

Tension = growth. This does not discount the importance of rest, it simply deepens the quality of sleep as many people, like me, need physical exhaustion in order to sleep well.

We can honour our need for rest, without being afraid of challenging ourselves. More time under tension doesn't mean less time for rest, it means being 100% present in each segment of our life.

I do think that increasing how heavy we lift decreases the total time expenditure while adding enough challenge. So strategic time spent under tension doesn't mean longer workouts always, unless that's your vibe, do you... but bottom line is: tension is growth and expecting it to be without tension isn't realistic. 

Of course, over-exertion all the time for no reason in areas where there is no ROI and it's a race against time and getting us nowhere isn't worth the investment, but overloading our muscles to grow them can be easier when we reframe the expectation of ease into the expectation that it's supposed to be challenging. Now, I am not saying not to take breaks or have seasons of intensity followed by seasons of rest, but the expectation that growth has no moments of challenge and even despair has got to go.

It can be efficient without time wastage (carrying a heavier load for a shorter burst of time for instance), but it may not be entirely painless as there's an element of pain associated with growth. Don't go get injured, but the expectation of it being easy with no pain tolerance at all isn't realistic. Pain can be the annoyance of the existence of the hard work and the desire to be doing something else, pain can be our muscles themselves growing, or pain can be soreness the next day... if there's an ROI and it's getting you somewhere: expect some element of challenge and this reframe removes the element of fear of challenge.

Lifting heavier and heavier isn't supposed to be easy. We increase our capacity via the efficiency of being well rested and optimizing our mind and nutrition to take on those bigger challenges and having the energy for it by creating tolerance proactively and being strategic about the movements we incorporate into our routines.