Workout Tips

Continuous Tension Means More Muscle

Follow the Lift Doctor's prescription for improving your workout performance and results in the gym.

“Is it best to lock out every rep on the bench press for more muscle?” Keris Matthews

Whenever greater strength and more muscle mass is the goal, a full range of motion is typically always recommended. This will develop your muscles to their greatest potential and accelerate your gains. However, there are a couple of things you must consider.

Bodybuilders who have been training for many years understand the importance of keeping tension on the working muscles and increasing the time under tension for each and every set – and how critical this is for building muscle. One advanced method they use to achieve this is called continuous tension sets, which is a technique that is in direct contrast to locking out every repetition.

Defined in Supertraining, the bible of strength development authored by Mel Siff, continuous tension sets are defined as, “any set in which each repetition is done smoothly without ballistic bounce, cheating or significant pause at either end of the motion. Characteristically, the movements are executed fairly slowly without the joints locking completely at any stage of the exercise.”

Keep Your Muscles Active

Continuous tension sets can be used for both isolation and compound exercises and will keep your muscles ‘active’ at all times. If we are talking about barbell bench pressing or dumbbell bench pressing, the way to perform this technique is to stop right before the weights are locked out at the top of the movement and move immediately back downward into the next repetition.

To further facilitate greater muscular tension and metabolic stress, a slow negative (lowering weight for a count of 3-5 seconds) can also be used with this technique.


Meet the Lift Doctor

Jim Smith is a highly respected strength and conditioning coach and Fitness Advisory Board member for and numerous national publications.  Owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning, Jim has been called one of the most "innovative strength coaches" in the fitness industry. Jim’s FREE gift – The Mass Report – has been used by thousands of lifters and athletes to build muscle faster and break through training plateaus.