What Is Dynamic-Tension®?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2020
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Dynamic-Tension® is a fitness program invented by American bodybuilder Charles Atlas in the 1920s. The program is promoted as having been thought of after Atlas observed the natural strength and muscularity of lions and tigers. It is said that he set out to come up with exercises that human beings could do to build up fitness in the same natural manner. The central foundation of the program is the idea of building strength and increasing muscles by using the natural resistance of a person’s body weight, rather than utilizing free weights or weight machines.

The exact exercise regime for Dynamic-Tension® is available to consumers who purchase the fitness program package. Although the exercises may vary depending on the specific version of the program that is purchased, the program in general is advertised as being comprised of exercises that can be performed in the privacy of a bedroom. They tend to include many repetitions of natural body weight resistance moves.


Although its lack of equipment and ability to be utilized without need for a gym or other workout room are some of the main points promoted by the fitness program’s company, supporters of the Dynamic-Tension® program believe it offers other benefits as well. Since the exercises only use a person’s body weight as resistance, rather than free weights or weight machines, it is said to be safer than traditional strength workouts because a person is not at as high of a risk of injury after becoming fatigued. If a person’s muscles are fatigued and he or she is using only his or her own individual body weight as resistance, the person simply won’t be able to perform any more repetitions of the exercise. When becoming fatigued during a workout with weights or a machine, if a person does not have someone supervising, he or she may be at risk of dropping the weight and injuring him or herself. Supporters of the program also believe one of its main benefits is that beginners can generally easily perform the exercises and simply adjust the number of repetitions as he or she becomes more fit.

While its safety is generally not disputed, the creativity and effectiveness of the program is argued by some. Critics of Dynamic-Tension® tend to say that the program is nothing more than basic calisthenic moves that existed long before Atlas came up with his fitness routine. They also tend to argue that the program is not as effective for building thick, bulky muscles and therefore, should not be marketed toward bodybuilders.


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