Ah yes, time under tension (TUT). Isn’t it a glorious, wonderful thing? Oh, perhaps you have no idea what TUT even is. In that case, make yourself at home, grab a nice tall glass of kombucha and listen up. It’s time that you learned some very important tactics to get your ab development dialed in and to the next level you’ve been waiting for all these years.
High reps vs. Tension
Pay close attention to the scene the next time you step into the gym. You have very good odds of seeing someone on a mat, curling their torso up and down like a dying shrimp and wearing a mask of pain on their face. Forgive them for they know no better.
Training your abs in this manner might get you a little cardio, but it sure as heck won’t do you any favors with definition and development. Just think about it for a second. When you do a high amount of reps like that, you tend to get sloppy. In other words, your form is sketch and you end up doing more harm than good. Through a series of say, 50 reps of crunches, your actual rectus abdominis gets maybe 10 seconds of contraction time. That just doesn’t cut it partner.
You should never, ever focus on doing high reps with ab training. Your attention should always be on tension. THAT is what causes the beautiful striations and cuts that you long for.
Good vs. Evil
Here’s an example of how to shift this modality into your favor. First, you have project A who lies on the crunch machine and cranks out five sets of 50 with a high velocity. Forget about the additional weight he has on the machine. Just think about the momentum he’s using.
If you go back to the original example of 10 seconds of actual ab contraction time, he’ll maybe get 50 seconds total. That’s less than one minute!
Now fix your eyeball on project B. This guy reaches up and grasps a pullup bar. He pulls his shoulder blades down and in (packs his shoulders), moves his legs slightly forward and tightens his entire core. He is now in what’s called the hollow body position.
From here, he pulls himself upward until his chin clears the bar, slowly lowers himself down to a fully extended arm position and repeats the movement for 6 to 8 reps. He proceeds to hop down, take a rest and repeat the exercise five total times. Guess what he just did? Approximately 10 times more ab work than project A in one single set! And mind you, project A was deliberately working his abs!
Practice Perfectly to Perfect Your Practice
Do you see where this is going? If you want gorgeous, sexy abs, don’t waste your time or energy with force leaks. Those are the moments in which you lose tension during an exercise. Stick with the heavy hitters that force you to keep your abs tight for an extended period of time.
If you go back to the pull-up exercise; sure, it is known as a back builder. But, it absolutely shreds the midsection because you have to contract hard and maintain that contraction throughout the entire set. That’s called money out on the streets!
To bottom line this, be sure to blend a lot of exercises into your routines that involve excessive time under tension with your midsection. Aside from pull-ups, throw in some Turkish get-ups, push-ups, renegade rows, side plank t-presses and hanging pikes.
And for the love of everything sacred, USE GOOD FORM!
You can easily screw up anything if you’re head’s not screwed on straight. Always aim for 90% perfection with everything you do. Be honest with yourself. If you can’t achieve that, you need to rest until you can. Your body won’t know the difference and it will thank you for it in the end.
OK, go practice your TUT techniques and watch what happens. You will be pleasantly surprised after a mere four weeks of training.