Constant – or continuous – tension is a training technique that emphasises fluidity when executing lifts. People tend to rely on intra-set resting when training, which shifts the tension off the muscle they’re trying to work. For example, by bench pressing in a start-stop motion and taking a pause when the bar returns to chest level.
These pauses, though short, rest the muscle and increase strain on your joints, tendons, and ligaments – making you more prone to injury. By aiming for constant tension of four to seven seconds on the muscle as you complete the range of movement within each lift, you’ll up the intensity of your workout while reducing stress on the rest of your body. Using the bench press to illustrate, ‘constant tension’ means that from the moment you unrack the bar you’re engaging your chest, shoulders, and triceps as you lower and raise the bar for each rep. Your movements throughout the lift should be smooth and purposeful, with no pauses.