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Tension Exercises

Tension Exercises

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Tension Exercises infographic
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Tension exercises, or dynamic tension exercises, were popularized by Charles Atlas. At its core, tension exercise is strength exercises without using any machines or weights. All the strength comes from one's own body; other muscles are used to generate tension.

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Possible Benefits

  • May help you build muscle
  • May improve your strength
  • May strengthen your confidence
  • May improve your mood
  • May decrease anxiety level
  • May decrease stress level
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Required Equipment


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How to Do It

The basic principle is the same for every exercise: you create tension in the muscle by using another muscle.

There are plenty of YouTube videos with specific exercises. We suggest creating a small routine to train the muscles you are interested in. Make sure you know how to do the exercise and practice it regularly. 

Since you are not using any machines or weights, you need to tense your muscles a lot and put enough effort to achieve your goals.

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Why it works

  • Since constant tension is applied, these exercises strengthen and tone the muscles. 
  • By generating constant tension and strength, muscle hypertrophy occurs. 
  • Muscle tension and relaxation exercises have been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety. They help decrease the activity of the corticospinal tract, which induces relaxation.
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Time Commitment

20-30 minutes 

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Suggested Frequency

2 times a week

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Time of Day


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Possible Side Effects

Practice the exercises with caution to avoid injury.

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  • The difference with isometric exercises is that in tension exercises there is movement.
  • Complement this habit with endurance training to get more benefits. 
  • Ideal for toning your muscles.
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Supporting Studies and Articles

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  1. Build Muscle without Weights - Dynamic Tension Exercises. https://www.fitnessfactstips.com/build-muscle-without-weights-dynamic-tension-exercises 
  2. Brain Activity Underlying Muscle Relaxation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6901433/ 
  3. Dynamic, Not Isometric Resistance Training Improves Muscle Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Hypertrophy in Rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6349781/ 
  4. Effects of dynamic resistance training on fascicle length and isometric strength. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16608764/ 
  5. Dynamic Tension. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_Tension 
  6. Effect of Static and Dynamic Exercises on Muscular Strength and Hypertrophy. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jappl.1957.11.1.29
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 Happiness  Stress  Fitness
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