It’s time to build more muscle than ever before.
How often is it that we read about a new way of training and get excited by the prospect of stretching those shirtsleeves, only to return to the same old methods?
An unwillingness to commit to new strategies is nothing new. Though most seasoned trainees know the importance of changing up their routines to force fresh gains, few follow through when it’s time to intensify their training efforts.
The reason for forgoing intensity is also surprisingly common: We are creatures of habit who love routine.
Regular plateau-busters know proper training is difficult and uncomfortable.
Even the mere thought of forming a plan to build mass and applying 100% effort every second of every set can deter the most determined iron slingers. It’s time to get uncomfortable and challenge your muscles to grow.
The human muscular system is amazingly adaptive and resilient. Progressive overload underpinned by ever-higher levels of intensity must form the basis of each training session.
The following plan is likely to be your most intense training experience yet.
TUT Workout Keys to success
Due to its intensive nature, each muscle group is to be trained only once every 7 days.
But, should you commit to this program for the full 10 weeks, you will develop an impressive physique to be proud of.
To get the most from this program, not a second can be wasted in the gym. No talking with fellow lifters. No selfies. No posing in the mirror for extended periods.
In fact, the single most important way to increase the effectiveness of any program is to improve training focus. The intensity of each session should continue to build from the first set to completion. One way to do this is to closely monitor rest between sets.
By keeping rest periods to precisely 80 seconds (unless otherwise stated) the muscles are given enough time to recover for the next set. However, the accumulated metabolic by-products from the last set will fatigue the muscles enough to ensure each successive set is harder than the one before it.
Breathe deeply between sets. Envision the successful completion of the next set. Try to relax fully during your 80 second break.
Time under tension refers to the amount of time a muscle is placed under mechanical tension during a set. The more prolonged the strain, the more intense the set, and the more potential there is for growth.
Most lifters subject their muscles to around 24-36 seconds of TUT per 8-12 rep sets (1 second on the concentric phase and 2 seconds on the eccentric phase). However, by maximizing muscular tension with 40-60 second sets (2 seconds on the concentric and 3 seconds on the eccentric), greater muscle tearing and growth hormone release is achieved and more size may result.1
Be warned: TUT can be brutal, especially when using the same training weights as employed with less TUT per set. Be sure to keep the TUT consistent across all 12 reps and focus on perfect form throughout. While it may sound easy in theory, prolonged TUT can take some getting used to.
In this program, TUT will vary on certain movements and will often be combined with drop sets to ensure all reps are completed with the highest possible intensity and with perfect form. All regular TUT sets are to be completed following a typical 24-36 seconds per set protocol.
Modify all sets to ensure correct TUT is achieved (for example, on 6-8 rep sets a prolonged TUT of 30-40 seconds is required).
Remember, three main mechanisms contribute to muscle hypertrophy. The first of these is mechanical tension (the amount of strain placed on a muscle during a set). The second and third are metabolic stress and muscle damage.
Without enough tension placed on the working muscles, both metabolic stress (cell swelling resulting largely from lactic acid accumulation) and muscle damage (the micro tearing of muscle tissue due to sustained force) are unlikely to be sufficiently growth inducing. By monitoring TUT, the latter two critical growth factors are made possible to a greater degree.
No single training method will ever replace quality and consistency when it comes to stimulating a target muscle. Each rep must be perfectly executed with no cheating. Complete control and optimal time under tension (either 24-36 or 40-60 seconds per 8-12 rep set, as prescribed) must also be adhered to.
Unless specifically planned for, no workout can be missed. A consistently high quality training output will, over time, give you the gains you desire. Even a program as effective as the one featured in this article will provide a poor return on investment if approached half-heartedly.
With that said, let’s discuss the most effective intensity methods for building size. Like any athletic endeavour, training for mass can only be done for a limited period before the muscles give out due to fatigue. Therefore, to get the most from any set requires somehow extending that set beyond the point where a lifter would normally quit.
There are four superior ways to do just that: rest/pause, drop sets, supersets and tri-sets.
Rest pause: Choose a weight that allows only 8-9 reps. Upon failure, rest for 2-3 seconds (at the completion of the negative) before completing another rep. Continue in this fashion until 12 reps are achieved.
Drop sets: Upon reaching failure on a given movement, pick a weight that is 30% lighter and immediately complete the same movement. A double drop will require doing the same movement back to back three times.
Supersets: Combine two movements and perform them in succession. For the purposes of this program we will be using supersets (and tri-sets) to obliterate different areas of the same muscle.
The intensive nature of this program ensures a maximum number of muscle fibers are pushed to the absolute limit from session-to-session. However, the overriding factor responsible for ongoing size gains will always be progressive overload.
Progressive overload is achieved by gradually adding to the stress placed on the muscles. Without it there is no need for the muscles to adapt from one session to the next. Therefore, without greater levels of stress a muscle will never become larger or stronger beyond a certain point.
For the purposes of the program to follow, progressive overload can be addressed by doing the following:
- Ensure training form is perfect and consistent with strength and intensity increases. Any small gain in workout quality is considered good if perfect form is consistently practiced.
- Up the resistance. Take every available opportunity to increase your training weights. As little as a 1-2lb increase on a given movement, from week to week, is considered good.
Important Workout Nutrition Tips
Of all the crucial mass-building components, sound nutrition ranks highest. Before even considering embarking on the program, you must be properly nourished with the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats for your size and training goals.
For mass-building, take 0.8-1.0g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. A quality whey protein (more rapidly absorbed and designed to optimize protein synthesis) can be beneficial to take post-workout and help meet your daily protein requirements.
In the lead up to an intensive session take a reputable pre-workout to sustain you when your muscles are calling time out. No matter how dedicated and determined we are to push through a grueling session, our muscles will fight back when energy depletion strikes. Solid workout supplementation (both pre and intra) will help resolve this problem.
The TUT Workout Program
This program is not for beginners. Be sure to have at least a year of solid training behind you before you begin.
- Rest for 80 seconds between sets (unless otherwise stated), 3 minutes between exercises.
- Keep training form perfect.
- Strive to periodically increase resistance on all movements.
- Adjust weight according to rep range. Lower reps (6-8) will require a weight increase.
- In the mornings of MWFSat, complete 30 minutes of steady-state, working at 70% of maximum heart rate
- Continue for 10 weeks. Then either continue or switch to another program.
- TUT = 40-60 seconds per set: 2 seconds on the concentric and 3 seconds on the eccentric.
|1. Leg Extension||4 TUT*||8-12|
|2a. Sumo Squats||4**||8-12|
|2b. Narrow Stance Squats||4||20|
|3. Leg Press||2 TUT||12-15|
|4. Walking Lunges||3||25|
|5b. Donkey Calf Raises||4 TUT||20|
|5b. Seated Calf Raises||4 TUT||20|
|6a. Barbell rollout||4||20|
|6b. Swiss Ball Crunches||4||20|
*Use the drop set intensity method on final set.
**Use the rest pause method for the final 3 reps of each set and rest for 2 minutes in between supersets.
|1. Dumbbell Lateral Raises||4 TUT||8-12|
|2a. Barbell Military Press||4||8-12|
|2b. Dumbbell Front Raise||4**||8-12|
|3. Bent Over Rear Delt Raise||2||8-12|
|4a. Bench Press||3||8-12|
|4b. Incline Dumbbell Press||3 TUT||8-12|
|4c. Dumbbell Flys||3||8-12|
|5. Machine Press||3***||8-12|
*Train shoulders first in the workout one week, chest first in the workout the next - and so on to program completion.
**Use the rest pause for the final 2 reps of each set on front raises.
***Perform drop sets on final set.
|1. Close Grip Pulldown||4 TUT*||8-12|
|2b. Reverse Grip Pulldowns||4**||8-12|
|4. Straight Arm Pulldowns||3 TUT||12-15|
|5. Romanian Deadlifts||4||15|
|6. Leg Curls||4 TUT***||8-12|
*Perform a drop set on the final set.
**Perform rest pause method on final 3 reps of each set.
***Perform a drop set on the final set.
|1a. Barbell Curls||4||8-12|
|1b. Hammer Curls||4||8-12|
|2. Incline Curls||3 TUT*||8-12|
|3. Rope Pressdown||4**||8-12|
|4a. Dumbbell Kickbacks||4 TUT||8-12|
|4b. Skullcrushers||4 TUT||8-12|
*Perform a drop set on final set.
**Use the rest pause method on final 3 reps of each set.
- Burd, N., A. et al. Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiol. 2012 Jan 15; 590 (Pt 2): 351–362.