Using Continuous Tension Training For Mass & Strength
During the first stages of training, overloading your muscles for a good workout may seem easy. Lets face it, during the initial stages, almost any training will overload your muscles.
As your workouts progress, so should the intensity. At a certain point in their regime, most trainers hit a distinct plateau. While they may have been increasing weights and reps, there comes a point when your body adapts to those workouts and merely maintains current size and strength. At this point dramatic changes must take place in order to continue at a decent rate of progress. One of these changes in strategy is by adopting slow, continuous tension techniques to each exercise.
When weight or reps cannot be added, you must trick your muscles into thinking they are lifting more weight by increasing intensity. When moving through the full range of motion for each workout, there are natural lulls in difficulty. Whether it is at the peak of a movement or the starting position, these momentary breaks allow oxygen and blood back into the muscle making the movement ‘easier’.
Bodybuilders have long been used to the idea of using different lifting tempos depending on their exact goals. A lifting tempo is simply the speed of movement during each exercise. The slow continuous tension technique is one of these tempos which require gradual movements and no breaks. As an example, when push-ups have become too easy, one may adopt slow rises and drops with no time spent at the peak or break of each exercise.
Continuous tension routines can be done for every body part. An easy to follow example for slow continuous tensions workout would be in a leg routine. When doing continuous tension squats, eliminate the ‘dead space’ by counting five seconds down, five seconds up, and focus on removing any pause at the top or bottom of the movement. Then, try the same for lunges and leg curls. Then move onto calf raises and apply the same concept with slightly shorter times: three second down and three seconds up with no pauses in between. This manipulation of tempo will help with any exercise that has momentary breaks in tension or exertion.
Instead of adding weights or reps to your next workout, try slowing down the exercises and increasing difficulty with slow, continuous tension techniques. When attempting to achieve maximum strength, size, and definition, the key is variety.