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Today’s post is all about time-based training and if you haven’t tried it, your body could be in for a massive treat…

Let’s get started.

Sets and reps have been the foundation of muscle building in all the time I’ve been involved in weight training since 1982.

Some guys stick to the 5 sets of 5 reps for strength gains. Others focus on the more traditional 8 to 12 reps for 3 or 4 sets.

But primarily, the rep/set system is the building block of most training programs throughout high street gyms up and down the country, and across the world.

But does that mean, this is the only way to train?

Actually, no it isn’t.  And today I want to discuss ‘Time Based Training’ with you.


‘Time Based Training’ might not automatically replace all your regular reps and sets workouts. But it only brings some variety to your training, well, then that is a huge bonus just for starters.

Because you don’t need me to tell you that, if your training gets boring, you’re either not going to put as much effort in as usual. Or worse…you might not even turn up for your workout.


However, what I’m going to show you today, could quite possibly see you record massive muscle growth. Not just in beating your one-rep max (1RM). But also see you pack on a ton more muscle, while shredding a few points off your overall body fat percentage.

What Is ‘Time Based Training’?

Basically, ‘Time Based Training’ is doing an exercise for a length of time. Often for 1 minute. But could be as much as 5 minutes.

So, let’s say you’re doing EZ bar curls to train your biceps.

Let’s say you’d normally put 20lbs on the bar. And go through your 3 or 4 sets, for somewhere between 8 and 12 reps for each set.

As you’re pumping through those sets, you might be thinking of what you’re gonna have for dinner tonight. Or you might be staring at that lovely honey across the gym who looks fabulous in her new ‘red-hot’ Lycra gym shorts.

But instead of all that. You’re not going to put any weight on the bar. You’re going to try curl just the bar for a full minute straight. You’re gonna leave Jenny and her hotpants for a minute. And really focus on controlling that bar slowly for the whole minute.

You might think this sounds easy. But wait till you try it.

A standard EZ bar weighs about 12 to 17 pounds. So just less than 8kg max.

When you compare just curling this bar for a full minute, instead of curling your usual weight for 12 reps, I’m sure you’ll find it very challenging.

This is because of a few critical reasons.

What Is ‘Time Under Tension’?

You’ve probably heard of time under tension but perhaps didn’t really give it that much thought. But that’s not your fault. Because every gym I’ve ever been to over the years pushes the ‘reps and sets’ system first and foremost.

Time under tension is the concept that doing your reps more slowly will give you better results because you’re forcing your muscles to work harder.

Almost everyone is guilty of doing reps too fast. And the consequence is your time under tension will reduce and your training sessions less effective.

Why is Time Under Tension So Effective?

Your goal when training is to achieve maximum muscle growth in the time you have available.

And the total amount of time that your muscles are under tension equals muscle growth.

If you do bicep curls at the speed of most people, you’ll complete them pretty fast. It’ll get tough when you do the last few. You might be huffing and puffing. And when you slam the weight down in the rack, you’ll give yourself an imaginary pat on the back for a job well done.

If you did 10 reps, maybe 1 second each – your time under tension is only 10 seconds for the complete set.

But could you have increased muscle growth by doing your set a better way?

Well, how about doing 10 super slow reps like this:

  • Concentric (curling the weight up) = 3 seconds
  • Full contraction, squeeze and hold = 2 seconds
  • Eccentric (negative part of your rep) = 3 seconds


If that’s too hard at first, try 2 seconds curling (concentric) 1 second squeeze hard, 2 seconds down.

When you go super-slow like this, you’ll feel a tremendous burn like you’ve rarely felt in training for a long time.

Plus, when you slow down, you can really focus on your technique and on feeling the muscles that are being trained. The Mind Muscle Connection.

This style of training also helps in another vital way. And that’s concentrating on the eccentric or negative part of each exercise.

Most guys I see training rarely concentrate on the negative. They’re too busy trying to lump heavy weights in the positive part of the movement.

The truth is, if they tried the 3-2-3 system I just gave you, they’d have to cut 40-50% of the weight they’re trying to lift. And that just ain’t sexy, right?

When you slow your reps down, you’re forced to work much harder. This is because you’re now placing much more emphasis on the muscle you’re working.

When you squeeze at the top of your rep, this enhances the mind-muscle connection. It also increases your time under tension.

And remember, your muscles grow when they are under tension. Therefore, don’t you think it makes sense to maximize the muscle tension?

Imagine how much more effective all your workouts are going to become if you ramp up the ‘Time Under Tension’ by 50% or more.

You need to shock your body with time under tension, and your muscle growth will come a lot faster.

So, whether you’re doing bodyweight training or working with free-weights, please slow down your reps.

I guess Jenny in her skin-tight red hotpants might not be impressed, by the much lighter weights you’re now lifting. But she’ll definitely be impressed with your muscle gains over the next few months.


And if you’re only doing bodyweight training by yourself at home, well, there’s no one to show off to anyway. So, slow down bro.

When you’re next doing a set of push-ups give this a try. As you go down to touch your chest on the floor, see how many reps you can do when you go ‘slow-mo’ all the way down.  See if you can do the downward part in 6 seconds. And as you descend, really concentrate on ‘feeling’ your chest muscles and triceps work. Feel the stretch at the bottom.

When you start focusing on your time under tension, instead of just banging out your sets, you’ll be placing a lot more stress on your muscles, even if the weight is lighter.

Always remember your muscles aren’t looking at the weight on the bar, or your own bodyweight – all they know is how hard you’re making them work.  


Rest Time Between Sets

When you start this style of training, it might take you a few workouts to get a feel for the right weight to use. Plus, there are obviously a lot of variations and factors to think about here. From free weights to bodyweight training. From working your legs to your triceps.

But one thing is a given. You’re going to need a little longer rest time between sets. I know I harp on about reducing your rest time between sets, but this style of training will fatigue you in record time.

Aim for somewhere between 2 and 3 minutes rest between sets.

Don’t rest longer than 3 minutes or the intensity level will taper off and you won’t be able to stimulate the same growth.  

Studies have proved that a 3 minute rest period is perfect for enhanced intensity and sufficient recovery to go hard on your next set.


Final Thoughts On Time Under Tension and Time Based Training…

Will you give Time Under Tension Training a go in your next session?

I hope so. I’d love you to leave a comment in the box below to share your experience. This helps others who are on the same path as you.

Improving your health and fitness is all about experimenting to see what works best for you.

Give ‘Time Under Tension Training’ your solid effort.  Depending on the exercise, try 60 second sets. And try 2 or 3 seconds down, 2 or 3 seconds up.

Slow the tempo of your movements right down, and concentrate on developing your mind-muscle connection. Feel every muscle fibre twitch as you put them under extra strain.

Make sure you eat well, and get plenty of sleep.

You’re going to need it.

Greg Noland-Grey-Top-Warriors-2021

Keep training hard (mentally & physically),

Greg ‘Take No Prisoners’ Noland
CEO & Founder
Grey Top Warriors




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