Ahh King TUT! Sounds awful right? TUT = Time Under Tension. King, because this is the King way to add some time under tension to your strength training sessions!
The RFESS is a Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat what some people call the Bulgarian Split Squat. One of the ultimate lower body exercises and a move that most certainly should be in your arsenal. Simply one leg behind you on a bench, chair or whatever is handy! The video will explain the rest.
The bang for buck aspect of the RFESS is nearly unmatched. Single leg extension, good glute drive is required, supreme control of the stability of the hips (glute medius, adductors, abductors) and torso/core (antiflexion, anti later-flexion), balance, proprioception (especially when loaded asymmetrically), eccentric load on the hamstrings, ankle stability and mobility are challenged and you even get a little hip flexor stretch for good measure.
It also lets you see pretty quickly if you have any strength deficits between legs.
Further more seen as you can literally go wild with different loading parameters and combos, the additional and/or specific challenges you can induce for the torso, hips, and hip extensors in terms of strength, power, stability and mobility are near endless!
It’s a pretty straight forward move to learn and is perfect for people with knee pain as it usually doesn’t cause much issues. I would recommend though that you follow a simple progression before even thinking about even body-weight RFESS’.
Normally for Point1 athletes it goes – Split Squat – Body-weight squats – reverse lunge – RFESS. Getting yourself comfortably and stability into the lowest position of the RFESS is about a good balance of mobility and stability, so those need to be well taken care of before you start!
Ahh Time under tension. Creating and managing mechanical forces in muscle is, well in it’s essence, “strength”. Changing the speed with which you lift weight through the full or partial ranges of concentric, isometric and eccentric contractions manipulates how long the muscles have to be “working” i.e. receiving neurological info, using ATP as energy, sliding actin over myosin etc…
Increasing TUT is primarily a technique used by bodybuilders to induce hypertrophy, that means gain in size of muscle or as the kids like to say these days GAINNNNZZZZZZZ!
It’s been shown in laboratory setting though that increasing TUT to be an effective way to increase protein synthesis in the muscles (Link)! But clearly has it’s limitations for the mountain-biker as we want fast, powerful contractions the majority of the time in training!
The method in the vid below is a combo of decreasing the speed of the eccentric/lowering phase of the RFESS, pausing for 1 then bringing your self back up into a half rep (halfway to the top of the movement) then back to the bottom and finally EXPLODE to the start position.
That EXPLODE is very important as being explosive through extension of the knee and hip joint is very important for the MTBer. The other portions of the lift challenge single leg eccentric strength and also go a long way to increasing your muscular endurance through partial and loaded contractions -something that happens very often on the bike as you hop, pop, pump and push your way over a variety of terrain, especially when things get steep or have large g-outs etc…
The final piece of the puzzle is the loading! In this vid i used what is called the “goblet squat” loading, holding a heavy Dumbbell in the goblet position, is a great “self-limiting” way to load as it really challenges the anterior (front) core while safely loading the legs!
Start smart – be confident but don’t be afraid to be humbled by the RFESS and the King TUT method!
P.S. the “half rep” idea was 100% stolen from Ben Bruno!