How To Master Your Reps To Boost Muscle Growth, Here Are The Basics

Perfect your form, and you'll add centimetres in weeks.

The weights on the bar aren’t everything. Mastering the “time under tension” lifting method will help you smash through plateaus to unlock new muscle, perfect your form, and you’ll add centimetres in weeks.

CHANGE IT UP: Learn these variations to ensure there’s no sticking point in your movement, and deliver smooth reps every time.


What does it involve? Using only a specific range of motion for a move: stopping before locking your joints, say, or even halfway up the rep. How does it help?

Not only does it extend your time under tension, it also targets the weakest part of a lift. That means earning new PBs when you perform the full move.

Best exercise: Bench press.


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What does it involve? Deliberately slowing the speed at which you perform the “lowering” phase of your lift. How does it help? It damages muscle fibres – which results in more nutrients reaching your muscles for repair and growth.

Best exercise: Cable push-down

Related: This Bodyweight Training + Meal Plan Gets You Shredded In 12 Weeks


What does it involve? Holding an isometric contraction, muscles tensed, at the bottom of a move before lifting. How does it help? During an isometric hold, the body can activate more motor units than usual. It’s a test of strength, as you can’t use any momentum to produce force – only your muscles.

Best exercise: Barbell back squat.


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What does it involve? Performing your sets to just short of failure, then reducing the weight and continuing with more reps.
How does it help? Compared to standard sets that only combat the first layer of your muscle fibres, drop sets activate the deepest muscles. Remember: even though you may reach a point of failure with one weight, you haven’t yet reached absolute failure.

Best exercise: Dumbbell lateral raise.

Related: Level Up Your Arms With This Dumbbell Workout


Upping your time under tension (TUT) will fast-track your gains. We’ve weighed up the heavy science.

Mind To Muscle: During slow eccentrics and partial reps, you can vividly feel the targeted muscles working. This improved connection between your mind and muscles carries over well when it comes to lifting.

Damage Limitation: In contrast to plyometric training or heavy sets, the lighter weights used in TUT methods – such as drop sets – cause less joint damage, yet still build muscle. You’ll be able to recover more quickly between your sessions.

Faultless Form: Because you’re concentrating on controlling the weight, you’re better able to
focus on your technique. Enhancing your lifting form leads to improved muscle contractions, greater growth, and fewer injuries.

WATCH: Personal Trainer & MH Cover Guy Mandla Dube Shows Us A 15-Minute Dumbbell Workout That You Can Do Anywhere

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