Time or Reps (Part 1)

When it comes to strength training, sometimes it’s best to count reps and other times it’s better to regulate the time under tension (TUT). Here’s an example of where counting reps can work to your advantage.

When most people hear the word “core,” they automatically think abdominals and nothing else. Only muscles that can be seen in the mirror count! And how to do most people go about training these muscles? With a countless number of sit-ups, crunches, knee-ins and leg lifts. These dynamic movements may not be so friendly to other areas of your core though, like your lower back. Research shows that there are better ways to maximize core activation while minimizing the strain on your lower back. One option is the side bridge exercise and I have a special way of doing it.

A hybrid movement is when you combine two movements into one. For instance, by combining the side bridge exercise with either a rear deltoid raise, external rotation or lateral raise, you can kill two birds with one stone (i.e., work the core and shoulder stabilizers at the same time). Here’s what these movements look like:

Side Bridge Rear Deltoid Raise

Side Bridge External Rotation

Side Bridge Lateral Raise

The paradox with each hybrid movement above is that they make the side bridge component more challenging while making it easier. What do I mean by that? Well, many people struggle to keep their hips up and torso straight during the side bridge exercise. I’ve found that if you add a shoulder movement, it diverts your attention to complete a prescribed number of repetitions with the weight rather than try to hold the bridge for a prescribed length of time. In the end, you perform longer without realizing it! This is an example of where using reps instead of TUT works better.

Tomorrow we’ll look at some examples of where using TUT can work to your advantage.

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