The key to the 360 degree muscle: 90 degree eccentric isometrics. It might seem like we're going to throw a lot of geometry at you, but the concept behind Time Under Tension (TUT) is simple, says Joel Seedman, PhD, owner of Advanced Human Performance: "Perform the lowering phase of a movement in a slow motion , controlled, usually 3 to 5 seconds; pause in the extended position, typically 90 degrees; Then perform the lifting phase powerfully yet controlled.” Believe us, time-under-tension training can humble even seasoned lifters... Eccentric isometrics are like the pressure cooker of training.
"Rather than mindlessly doing slow reps, use the increased time under tension as a means of fine-tuning your body mechanics and alignment, which requires more mental commitment and focus," adds Seedman.
If you want to forge functional muscle mass and strength while also bulletproofing those joints and connective tissue, try this 10-movement eccentric full-body isometric workout.
Perform the following movements as 90 degree eccentric isometrics according to the protocol above. Use heavy weight, but not at the expense of proper form. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets and 2 minutes between circuits. Perform once every 2 to 4 days for best results.
Best time under tension workout for total body strength
A. Barbell squat
Set up a heavy weight squat rack, then grab the bar and step under it. Squeeze shoulder blades, then stand to release bar and step back with feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale, bend at the hips and slowly bend your knees to 90 degrees. Pause, maintain the natural arch in your lower back, and then straighten through your hips to stand powerfully. 3 x 4-6 reps
B. Renegade Row
Begin in the top position of a push-up with hands shoulder-width apart on moderate-to-heavy dumbbells as shown. Explosively retract your right elbow to row the dumbbell toward your ribs while balancing on your opposite hand and feet. Pause, then slowly lower the weight, stopping a few inches off the floor. Switch sides after all reps have been performed. 3 x 5 repetitions per side
A. Dumbbell bentover row
Stand hip-width apart and hold two medium-weight to heavy dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing you. Push your hips back and twist your torso forward so it's almost parallel to the floor, gently bending your knees. Dumbbells should be near the shins. Retract your elbows to row the weights toward your ribs. Pause, then slowly lower for 3 to 5 seconds. 3x 4-5 reps
B. Incline press with dumbbells and raised legs
Set an adjustable bench at a 30-45 degree angle and lie back with dumbbells in both hands. Engage your core and lift your legs off the floor while bending your feet. Press weights overhead, palms in. Slowly lower to 90 degrees, staying firm and compact. Pause, then drive the weights directly across your chest. 3x 4-5 reps
A. Bulgarian squat with dumbbells
Stand in front of a flat bench at lunge length, holding heavy dumbbells in each hand at your sides, palms facing in. Place the ball on the top (shoelace) of your right foot behind you on the bench. Slowly lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Pause, then drive through heel to stand up. Switch sides after all reps are complete. 2 x 3-4 repetitions per side
B. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold dumbbells or kettlebells. Drive right leg up, foot flexed, knee aligned with hip, forming a 90 degree angle. Bend at the hips as you slowly lever your torso toward the floor, lowering weights and moving your right leg back to counterbalance. Hold, then squeeze glutes to invert. 2 x 3-4 repetitions per side
A. Pull up
Hang from a pull-up bar with your legs straight and your feet bent with an overhand grip. Engage your lats and pull your shoulders down, then pull yourself up until your chin is higher than your hands. Pause at the top, then slowly lower. Pause at bottom, then reset before next rep. 2-3 x 4-5 reps
B. Kneeling barbell press
Hold a medium-to-heavy weight bar at shoulder height with your forearms perpendicular to the floor. At the end of the bench, kneel with your feet bent to grab the edge for support. Inhale, engage your core and glutes, then push the bar overhead, pushing your head forward so it goes past your face, and exhale at the top.
Slowly lower until elbows reach a 90 degree angle, then hold to maintain tension. Start your next rep from here. 2-3 x 4-5 reps
A. Dumbbell push-ups
Place your hands on the dumbbells shoulder-width apart (this allows for greater range of motion) and feet wider than shoulder-width, with only your toes touching the floor. Keep your head neutral and hips up to increase tension on your core, chest, and tris and reduce spinal stress. Slowly lower yourself to the floor. Stop
Once elbows reach 90 degrees, pause, then push up to begin. 1-2 x 6-8 reps
B. Biceps curl
Stand hip-width apart with medium to heavy dumbbells in each hand, hanging by your sides. Squeeze your biceps to pull the weights up and keep your upper arms steady. Pause at the top, then slowly lower. Don't drop your arms all the way down to keep your biceps engaged longer. 1-2 x 6-8 reps
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