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Time Under Tension

Time Under Tension Is The Real Deal ….To Fatigue

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Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time.  He explains, aggressive training to failure even as low as 30% of your maximum can lead to tremendous strength gains.

In the 60’s and the early 70’s weight rooms did not grace all towns in America.  People who enjoyed weight training were in the vast minority.  The weight training junkie would have to hunt down venues and train with whatever was available.  Finding an Olympic barbell, a flat bench and a good rack of dumbbells often required effort.

Many ‘gyms’ were exactly that a ‘gym’ for basketball and indoor running.  Some gyms had wall mounted pulleys, ropes, an exercise room with matting, a pommel horse and an assortment of weights nearby.  Olympic bars were common, but in many facilities the benches did not have upright stanchions for the bench pressing movement.  You could bench using a rack, but it was usually occupied for squatting and overhead presses.

To bench press in different environments I learned to lay on my back and do a pullover to bring the bar to my chest.  315 pounds off the floor was doable yet precarious.  Pulling the bar was difficult in itself.  Bench pressing a bar lying dead on your chest from the starting position following a pullover is another issue.  To exacerbate the problem after a near maximal effort bench pressing, the bar had to be returned to the floor in a fatigued state without decapitating yourself.  An exercise I recommend to no one.

bench press

Because I knew that this exercise was going to eventually hurt me not help me I decided to only use 135 pounds when I found a flat bench and bar.  I figured out if I could bench 135 pounds 50 straight times I could always bench press 300 hundred pounds.  Upon returning to my workout facility in my home town if I had obtained 54 or 55 or 60 straight reps I knew I was much stronger.

Seemingly somewhat of a silly approach to training?  At the time there was not much information anywhere and it is just what I did.  Being progressive, having a system and training with effort to fatigue led to becoming quite strong.

In 1965 ‘Henneman’ demonstrated that motor units hence muscle fibers are recruited in accordance with the size principle during voluntary contractions.  ‘Burd’, in 2012 demonstrated that complete muscle fiber recruitment even under low loads is an important driver of myofibrillar protein synthesis rates.

So, it was then and now proven true that prolonged muscle time under tension… ‘to fatigue’… leads to full motor unit recruitment, the volume of which promotes p70s6k phosphorylation and a prolonged elevation of myofibrillar protein synthesis rates.

If you like to use light weights it requires great effort and progression to fatigue to Get Strong, but you will Get Strong.

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