Time Under Tension Beginner Workout

Time under tension is a principle of weight training that has to do with the speed at which we lift and lower the weight. This also involves whether or not we pause at anytime throughout the movement. Weight lifting speed is also referred to as tempo, and varying the tempo can change the type of results that we get from our workouts. A good way to focus on primarily building muscle is to increase your time under tension.

So what is the best tempo for building muscle? Well, extremely slow tempos (such as 10 seconds down, and 10 seconds up) are great for building endurance but are not optimal for building muscle. And fast tempos (such as lowering the weight in 1 second, and lifting it as fast as you can) are great for building explosive strength. As you may have guessed, the middle ground is where you want to be for building muscle mass.

beginner workout










There are many middle ground tempos that can be great for building muscle. Since this is a beginner workout, I figured that we'd stick to something simple. Before we get into the tempo, we first need to know how the tempo is set up. The tempo is made up of four numbers:

  1. The lowering of the weight
  2. The optional pause at the bottom
  3. The lifting of the weight, and
  4. The optional pause at the top

This workout calls for a 3/0/1/0 tempo. So, you will lower the weight in 3 seconds, don't pause, lift the weight in 1 second, don't pause, and then repeat. Pauses are good but they can make things complicated. Breathing patterns are easily disrupted with complicated tempos. For a beginner (and even more advanced trainees) a simple 3 seconds down, and 1 second up tempo will work great. Don't forget to breathe in on the way down, and out on the way up. 

Primary Goal: to build muscle mass

Workout Type: Upper Body/Lower Body Split

Training Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Days Per Week: 4 (2 of each workout: Mon/Tues/Thu/Fri)

Equipment: Dumbbells, Barbells

Tempo: 3/0/1/0 – 3 seconds down, 0 second pause, 1 second up, 0 seconds down

time under tension beginner workout








Warm-up Circuit – 3 sets

Bodyweight Squats – 5 reps

Toe Touches – 5 reps

Push-ups – 5 reps

Bent Over Rows (light) – 5 reps

The Workout

Choose a weight that is challenging but doable

Once you're too fatigued to maintain good form, it's time to stop

Rest 30 Seconds in between each set

Monday/Thursday - Lower Body Workout - 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 Reps

Barbell Squats

Barbell Straight Legged Dead Lifts

Hanging Knee Raises – 3 sets of 5 to 15 reps

Barbell Lunges

Barbell Reverse Lunges

Dumbbell Side Bends – 3 sets of 15 reps

Calf Raises – 3 sets of 15 reps

Tuesday/Friday - Upper Body Workout - 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 Reps

Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bent Over Rows

Weighted Sit ups – 3 sets of 5 to 15 reps

Arnold Presses

Barbell Upright Rows

Standing twists with a Plate – 3 sets of 15 reps

Barbell Curls

Barbell Tricep Presses

About Jake Long
In late 2014, Jake co-founded FitnessJunkies.com with his brother Ryan. Jake is a NASM certified personal trainer and has been blogging on health and fitness since 2011 when he started JakesHomeWorkouts.com.