Workout Frequency Revised

By Jim Bryan

Early in my weight training career I was training an average of six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. I was involved in competition in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Body Building . Sometimes there were non-sanctioned Strongman type competitions. At this time I was chemically assisted but I never felt that it helped. Others did and saw areas of big improvements. But like I said I never felt it helped and don’t recommend it.

Somewhere in 1970 I met Arthur Jones and was exposed to shorter and harder workouts. I was already training hard but the workouts took a long time to complete. I hadn’t learned to “focus” my training yet. Arthur convinced me to stop depending on chemical assistance and showed me how to train harder in a shorter time frame. He also told me about “infrequent training.” After, I was training only three days a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. At first it was mostly on free weights and some machines at Christensen’s Health Club, and on mostly free weights and early prototypes of Nautilus Machines in Deland. When I first met Arthur, Nautilus didn’t exist in reality. It was only in Arthur’s mind. Thus, we didn’t have anything special in the beginning to train on. Free weights, Universal machine, Nautilus Pullover Prototype that’s pretty much it. I was happy to be only training 3 days a week and to me this was “Infrequent Training.” Today you have trainers bragging about only working out now and then, or once a month. It has been accepted that this is “Infrequent Training.” I believe things have gotten out of hand with this thinking.

My thoughts on “Optimal Training”

Three days a week training: I feel that this is the best way to go for most people. It works for body composition, lean muscle improvements, strength, and conditioning. Most people don’t train hard enough to run the risk of over training and three days is not that hard to get in. This can be all weights or a mix of weights and body weight training. Throw in some implements to make things interesting and on your off days get outside and enjoy being active. Don’t be afraid to be active. Practice sensible eating and you should do well.

Two Days a week training: This also works and for very busy people it may be ideal. Also, for the rare few (and I mean few) that train the way we used to in Deland, this is or can be a good frequency of training. Again, you can do all weights or mix with body weight training. It becomes more important to stay active on your non – training days if you are after a “lean look.” You can accomplish your goals of adding strength and maintaining muscle on two days a week training. Some will even add muscle but you need to make these workouts count. Focus your training and try to do as much as you can in the space of your workout. Training should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Some really hard workouts can be completed in 15 minutes and change.

When you are training only twice a week, “conditioning” starts to suffer in my opinion. I recommend participating in some kind of out door activity. Something like jogging, water skiing, swimming, soccer, surfing, boogie boarding, walking, or biking. Get outside, burn some calories, stay fit and stay active. Twice a week can work but you have to practice sensible eating if you want to shed some fat.

Once a week training: I don’t find this to be optimal. Sometimes you can’t help it. Life gets busy and you can only get one a week in. I feel that you can continue to add strength on one training session a week as long as you REALLY focus on weight progression in your exercises. I feel that body composition suffers for most people. You will tend to get fat and your conditioning will suffer, as well as your “work capacity.” You’ll really have to cut your calories if you want a lean look. So much so, that you may find you don’t have enough energy for a HEAVY workout. Your strength can suffer also. It’s around this area that “Infrequent Training” starts to become too infrequent. You better be active as heck if you only workout once a week or you will become…………………………………fat.

Less than once a week training: Look! I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care how many books or articles you have that say you can succeed on this. What you will end up with is ………Books and Articles.

You’ll have very little muscle, and your conditioning will be zero. You just can not do it in five minutes a day whenever you feel like it as some would have you believe, and you can not do it with workouts that never happen. Having the best Fitness Library means zilch if all you ever do is read and talk your workout. You have to work out! You have to raise your heart rate. You have to spend some sweat and effort. You have to be consistent. You have to pay attention to what and how much you eat. All the best intentions in the world will not make up for lack of effort in the gym.

AND neither will the latest “Fitness Craze.” The experts on the Internet will go on and on about “I use this and I use that” but the bottom line is weight training works. Combine weight training with body weight training and conditioning and just do it. It has worked for over 50 years as I know it and continues to work. Gimmicks come and go but Sensible Strength Training will go on and on. BUT you have to show up, work out, and be consistent! Argue less on the Body Building sites and you will probably find the extra few minutes needed to “Just go lift.” I don’t care how you do it or who’s method you use, “Just go Lift.”

All said and done if you have been training consistently and regularly, don’t be afraid to take some time off to recharge now and then. Best effort equals best results. Not everyone will end up developing “Huge Muscles.” Some will and some won’t. It depends on your potential and effort. AND!!! Women don’t end up looking like a man because they lift weights. So just throw that excuse out the window. Women look good with some lean muscle on them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend Jim Bryan for once again sharing his insights with us.

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START YOUR NEW YEAR’S RIGHT…

 STRENGTH TRAINING FOR BUSY PEOPLE

Well it’s that time again…NEW YEARS!! One of the many things that occurs around this time of year is that people make plans to get fit. For all these good intentions, many people quickly give up on these plans, often because they feel they don’t have the time to dedicate towards this seemingly daunting task. If you are on of those people who feels they don’t have time to read this article, let alone set aside time to work out, then this program is for you.

WHY?

Why Strength Train? The primary purpose of strength training, or strength exercise, is to improve muscle function. It will help you develop stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments, enabling you to perform better in all physical activities. Strength training reduces your risk of low back pain, illnesses such as diabetes and degenerative problems such as osteoporosis. It also helps you reach and maintain a proper body composition by boosting your resting metabolism and thereby burning more calories throughout the day, even at rest.

HOW?

The Strength Training program below has been designed using research performed by Dr. Wayne Westcott and Rita LaRosa Loud, along with their staff at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. In an effort to make exercise more appealing to those who are truly in need of its tremendous benefits, Dr. Westcott set out to prove that strength gains can come with minimal time and commitment. The number one complaint and excuse for discontinuing a strength training, or exercise regimen, is TIME. As you will find in this article, Dr. Westcott and his colleagues were able to prove that significant changes can occur in a person’s musculature and strength with a program lasting as little as 24 minutes, performed just two to three times a week.

 RESEARCH OVERVIEW:

Over the past several years, Dr. Wayne Westcott and his colleagues have conducted several research studies with adults, seniors, and children consistent with the American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines. With every study, Dr. Westcott has continued to uncover protocols that deliver results to the masses. In every program, the participants experienced excellent gains in muscle strength and impressive improvements in body composition. On average, the adult exercisers in these particular studies increased their muscle strength by over 40 percent, added about two and one half pounds of muscle, and lost about four and one half pounds of fat over an eight week training period.

The results from the shortened programs are at least as good as those attained using other exercise protocols, indicating that a basic and brief strength training program can be highly effective. Perhaps just as important, participants have been pleased with both the exercise process and the training product, with over 90 percent continuing their strength workouts after completing the program.

BASIC STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM:

Participants performed one set of each exercise, with a weight load that could be lifted between 8 and 12 repetitions. Each repetition was performed at a moderate movement speed (about 6 seconds) and through a full movement range. When 12 repetitions were able to be completed in proper form, the weight load was increased by a small amount (5 percent or less). The participants chose to train either two or three days per week depending on personal preference. The studies have shown almost 90 percent as much benefit from twice-a-week training as three day-a-week training.

The basic training program used is relatively time efficient, depending of course on the recovery period between exercises. Assuming about a minute to perform each exercise and about a minute between exercises, the workout requires only 24 minutes for completion.

20 SECOND STRETCHING BETWEEN EXERCISES:

The flexibility component of the program generally consisted of interspersing stretching exercises with the strength training movements. The participants experienced excellent results by performing a 20-second stretch for the muscle group just worked. For example, the leg curl exercise was followed by a 20-second static stretch for the hamstrings muscles.

The research has shown that adding stretching exercises to the workout may have duel benefits, enhancing both joint flexibility and strength development. The participants who did static stretches following their strength training exercise had greater increases in hamstrings flexibility and strength than the participants who did strength training exercises only. Because the participants typically took a 1-minute break between exercises, the 20-second stretches did not lengthen the overall workout duration.

STRENGTH TRAINING GUIDELINES:

 FREQUENCY

Train two to three days per week on an every-other-day schedule. Taking back-to-back strength training workouts is counterproductive because the muscles do not have sufficient recovery or building time. Two training days per week produce about 90% as much strength and muscle gain as three weekly workouts.

DURATION

Train with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions on each machine. At 6 seconds per repetition a set of strength exercises should take about 50-70 seconds. When the proper weight-load is used, this provides excellent stimulus for strength gains. The Strength Training Circuit should take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete once you know what adjustments and weight you need for each movement or machine. Until then, it could take 45 minutes or so to complete the circuit.

 INTENSITY

The weight-load should be heavy enough to fatigue the target muscle group with 8-12 repetitions.

 SPEED

Perform all movements slowly, approximately 6 seconds per repetition. Take two seconds to lift the weight-load, and take four seconds to lower the weight-load. Slow training increases the strength building stimulus and reduces the risk of injury.

RANGE

Perform all exercises through a full range of pain-free joint movement. Full-range training ensures greater muscle effort, joint flexibility, and performance power.

 PROGRESSION

Gradually increase muscle stress by adding approximately 5% more weight whenever you complete 12 repetitions in good form. Progressive resistance is the key to continued strength development.

 CONTINUITY

Proceed from machine to machine, or exercise to exercise in order and in a timely manner. Work the muscles from larger to smaller groups, which aids in efficiency, and provides better overall training effect.

MAINTAIN REGULAR WORKOUTS

Consistency is perhaps the most important variable in developing and maintaining physical fitness. Two or three non-consecutive workout sessions per week on a regular basis are recommended for maximizing muscular fitness.

Well that’s all you need to know. For more ideas on how to create efficient workouts check out these past articles: One and Done I Want It All 

Thanks to Dr. Wayne Westcott for allowing me to share his research here on my blog.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

On Building Strength & Stamina

Wayne Westcott

Fitness Tips from Dr. Wayne Westcott:

 

This week I offer some valuable tips on attaining and maintaining total fitness from my friend and mentor Dr Wayne Westcott. For those who may not know him, Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, CSCS, is the Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts. His tenure as a strength training expert spans more than 35 years as an athlete, coach, teacher, professor, researcher, writer, and speaker.

Dr. Westcott says: “My interest in strength training began with my personal weight lifting program in high school that seemed beneficial for my track performance but was strongly discouraged by my coaches. I decided to learn more about the outcomes of resistance training and how to best develop a safe, effective and efficient program of strength exercise.”

Influences: The three key influences on my direction in the field of strength training were the exercise protocols promoted by Drs. DeLorme and Watkins, who initiated sensible strength exercise in the United States in the late 1940s; Dr. Richard Berger, who studied various combinations of sets and repetitions in the early 1960s; and Arthur Jones, who advocated brief, high-intensity strength workouts in the early 1970s, and designed specialized equipment (Nautilus machines) to facilitate the strength-building process.

Specificity: Unfortunately, fitness is more specific than it is general. I believe that the most practical way to improve cardiovascular fitness is through basic endurance exercise, such as running, cycling, stepping, swimming, rowing, etc., for about 30 minutes per session, at a heart rate of about 70 to 80 percent of maximum, 3 to 4 days per week. In my opinion, the most practical means for increasing muscular fitness is through standard strength training, using progressively heavier resistance to perform one hard set of exercise (8 to 12 repetitions with approximately 70 to 80 percent of maximum weight-load), 2 to 3 days per week with proper technique and controlled speed. Such a workout requires about 30 minutes, which combined with 30 minutes of endurance exercise requires only 1 hour of physical activity, 3 days a week, and should be acceptable for most individuals.

Creating efficient workouts: Most people who do not exercise regularly give time constraints as their main reason for avoiding physical activity. Training protocols for both strength and endurance exercise, may be accomplished by single-set and high-intensity strength training techniques that eliminate lengthy rest/recovery periods necessary in multiple-set training programs. Combine this with interval training protocols for endurance exercise sessions which provide more cardiovascular effort in less time by alternating higher and lower effort bouts of aerobic activity. One may also create combination circuit training routines for the really time-pressured person who must perform concurrent strength and endurance exercise.

 

Circuit Strength Training: Circuit training is an excellent means for maximizing your strength development while minimizing your exercise duration. By performing a hard set of one exercise (e.g., leg extension), then doing a hard set of a different exercise (e.g., leg curl), you can address all of the major muscle groups in relatively short order. This is possible because you do not need to rest between sets, as each exercise works a fresh muscle group. Training without rests is also beneficial from a “fatigue-resistant” perspective, as your cardiovascular system works at a relatively high level for the entire exercise session.

Extending the set Vs multiple sets: Two sets of the same exercise is fine, but you essentially work the same muscle fibers twice. With breakdown training, you work additional muscle fibers in an extended set that forces you to reach a second and deeper level of muscle fatigue. Although it may be easier to do repeat sets to the same level of muscle fatigue, it may be more productive (and certainly more time-efficient) to perform high-intensity training techniques that fatigue more muscle fibers and provide a greater strength building stimulus.

Strength & flexibility: Our latest research on stretching has shown that beginners who combine strength training and stretching exercise experience almost 20 percent greater strength development than those who do not stretch. You may do a 20-second stretch immediately following each strength exercise for the muscles just worked, or perform all of your stretches together right after your strength workout.

Your never too old to benefit: Our research has shown almost equal and very impressive improvements in both boomers and seniors who do a basic and brief program of strength and endurance exercise. In a study with almost 1,200 participants, those between 41 and 60 years added 2.3 pounds of muscle and lost 4.4 pounds of fat after just 2 months of training, less than an hour a day, 2 or 3 days a week. Remarkably, the subjects between 61 and 80 years added 2.4 pounds of muscle and lost 4.1 pounds of fat following the same training program. Both age groups increased their muscle strength by approximately 50 percent during the 8-week training period.

Recommendations for older trainees: I recommend that boomers perform a basic fitness assessment before and after two months of the exercise program to verify their progress and reinforce their training efforts. Beginning with just 3 key exercises and adding 2 exercises each week is a most sensible method for introducing new participants to a progressive program of purposeful strength training. Those who follow the exercise guidelines will notice some improvements in as little as 2 weeks.

Getting Rid of Cellulite: We have recently conducted a considerable amount of research on a pervasive problem encountered by most women, commonly called cellulite. Our studies have shown considerable success through a sensible combination of strength training, endurance exercise and reasonable caloric reduction. (The new book is titled No More Cellulite and should soon be available at all bookstores).

On simple methods to develop Strength & Stamina: In my observation, most fitness centers are geared for exercise enthusiasts who enjoy new, challenging and complex training programs. Unfortunately, the 90 percent of Americans who do not frequent fitness facilities are far less comfortable with what they consider complicated and time-consuming exercise protocols. They are much more responsive to short and simple fitness programs consisting of basic strength training and standard endurance exercise that they can easily blend into their busy lifestyle. To reach the unfit market, we need to place more emphasis on chocolate and vanilla, and spend less time on 50 mix and match flavors, at least initially.

 PAU for NOW

TAKU

 

Everything Works and Everything Fails To Work

Look! It's a magic exercise!When you spend a couple of decades watching the world of fitness and strength training you see a lot of strange things. Often you see the same strange things repeatedly.One of the things that happens like clockwork is a Hollywood movie featuring somebody in great physical shape who has his shirt off for several minutes of screen time – and the inevitable publicity for the ‘workout’ that made it all possible.

Movies like 300 or The Wolverine or a dozen others, TV shows with actors likeTrue Blood’s Joe Manganiello, who has a great physique, all give rise the the inevitable magazine and web articles that feature “The Workout” used by the celebrity.

The idea is fostered that if you only had the Secret Workout of the celebrity you could have the same fantastic physique displayed by him.

There Is No Secret Workout

Here’s the truth: There Is No Secret Workout. The reality is virtually any workout can work to some degree and every workout – without exception – can utterly fail. There is also no secret technique like doing biceps curls on a colorful Swiss ball, or twisting your wrist at the top a a curl or flexing your shoulders at the top of a deadlift. All of these alleged benefits can be thwarted simply by stupid workout planning.

Put three guys in a gym and one of them will swear three sets of 10 to 12 reps to failure is the secret workout of champions. Another will say it’s one very slow set to failure. Another – bless him – will say it’s timed sets of strong range reps.

And guess what? All of them could make good progress or all of them could fall on their face. You can lift cinder blocks in your back yard and build some muscle. You can break rocks with a sledgehammer and build some muscle. You can lift sub-maximum weights and gain some muscle.

You can also do all of the above and overtrain and dig yourself into a metabolic hole where you get sick and/or lose the motivation to do any exercise at all.

Train Blind Or Train Smart

The reason any potentially productive workout can fail is because people train blindly with it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity workout, a pro bodybuilder workout or a workout I created just for  for you – you can overtrain or undertrain with it and get absolutely nowhere. In fact, you can make your overall health worse, not better.

The Dirty Secret

The dirty little secret is that it’s what happens outside the gym that is vastly more important. Namely:

a) Did you get enough rest to recover 100% from your previous workout

b) Did some new muscle grow, and

c) What is you plan to generate higher intensity on your next workout?

ALL of that is determined outside of the gym!

There is no excuse for working blind. It’s just dumb. And needless.

Take basic measurements of your intensity and then make sure that intensity  increases on every exercise during every workout. Don’t turn a good workout into a bad workout by not planning it properly.

TAKU’s Note:  This week features another great little article by my friend Pete Sisco. As always I appreciate him letting me share some of  of his excellent work here at Hybrid Fitness

Are You A New Man (or Woman) Today?

Wow! I improved 6.4%!!The logical foundation of strength training is that we build muscle by lifting heavy weights. It’s an adaptation of the body similar to developing darker skin as an adaptation to intense sunshine. We call that adaptation a suntan. Stand in the shade and your tan does not get any darker. Lift an easy weight and your muscles don’t get any stronger. Makes perfect sense.

So if you want today’s workout to build some new muscle you will need to lift a heavier weight than you usually do. A heavier weight than the last time you lifted. Or maybe if you lifted a weight for three reps last time you need to do four reps today. Something more intense. Something akin to brighter sunshine.

If your last workout was truly productive it stimulated some new muscle growth. If you waited enough time for that muscle to grow (like you have to wait for hair and fingernails to grow) then you should be stronger today. So when you return to the gym you should be able to lift a heavier weight or at least generate higher intensity (total weight / time).

Your last workout is inferior now. It’s like standing in the shade. You need more intensity today because you are a stronger person than you were during last workout. You are a new man.

No Two Workouts The Same

If every workout you perform is productive (and is there any reason it should not be?) then it causes new muscle to grow. If you have new muscle you are stronger. If you are stronger you should lift heavier weights more times. If you are doing everything right then every workout should be different than the last one. No two workouts should deliver the same intensity to a target muscle.

Of course, it’s impossible to know if today’s workout is more intense than the last one if you don’t take some basic measurement.

Which Set Is Better?
The fact is the first example is better by about 5% in terms of both momentary intensity andsustained intensity. This is something you can’t just “feel.” To know these facts you have to measure things.

The reason so much crappy advice gets circulated year after year in gyms, magazines and blogs about strength training is because nobody measures anything in the gym. So nobody gets proved wrong. Measurement cuts through the opinions and gets down to facts. What exercises deliver the most intensity to the triceps? What combination of weight and reps delivers more intensity?

When you measure you suddenly have facts instead of lore and opinion.

When you measure you can pre-engineer productive workouts.

When you measure you can become a new man or woman.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks very much to my friend and mentor Pete Sisco for letting me share some of  of his excellent work here at Hybrid Fitness

Functional Isometrics: Part Two

By TAKU

In part one of this article we learned about some different forms of strength training and discussed their similarities and differences including Isometrics and Functional Isometrics. In part two we will take a closer look at how to incorporate these concepts into a your workout program. I will also introduce the concept of Static Contraction training an ultra brief, intense and efficient workout system based on the Functional isometric concept.

Exercise Example:

Lets take a look at the execution of the Bench Press using the Functional isometric training style discussed in part one.

Step One: First you will need a good Power Rack / Cage or Smith Machine with multiple height adjustments. Set the safety pins at a position about even with the bottom of your range of movement. Load a weight that is about 50% of your current max. If you rarely or never perform 1RMs then estimate from a 5-10 RM using an RM calculator. You will then position yourself under the bar and get yourself set in a good, solid, pressing position (do I need to explain how to properly bench press?). Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the bottom pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Two: Raise the pins to the mid-range or sticking point of the movement. At this point (if you are not already there) add enough weight so that you are at or near your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Three: Raise the pins so that they are just a few inches away from your lock-out position (4-6 inches). At this point (depending on how your other sets have gone) add enough weight so that you are at or slightly above your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

When performing these types of sets you want to strive for maximum efficiency. The more accurate your records the less weight adjustments you will be required to make. The goal is for you to know exactly how much weight will challenge you in each range, for each movement. This may take a week or two to figure out. Once you have your weight dialed in for each movement, you should perform no more then one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in each of the three positions.

I often cycle Functional isometrics into my own strength training program for several months at a time. I find these types of workouts to be very challenging and extremely effective and efficient. I will load up for the exercise I am going to perform and start with the weakest part of the range first. I then do one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in that position. I raise the weight to the next part of my ROM and after a brief rest, complete another 6-10 second contraction. One more adjustment, one more contraction, and I am done for that exercise. I find I can complete and entire full-body workout in as little as 20 minutes. This is possible because I know exactly how much weight to use for each movement which makes set up quite simple.

For Ultimate Efficiency

There are thousands of athletes and general fitness enthusiasts around the world who use a type of Functional isometrics termed Static Contraction training as their only form of strength training. In this style you perform just one, all out contraction in the strongest range for each basic pushing and pulling movement. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this style of training is easiest to perform with a dedicated machine such as those produced by www.digitalstrengthtraining.com however terrific results can be had using conventional equipment as well.

With just a little practice and dedication you can learn to fine tune the specific ROM of each exercise to produce amazing results in just a few minutes per workout. Static contractions performed in the strongest range, using one all-out contraction, for as little as 6-10 seconds, can produce rapid improvements in muscular strength and performance. Now those of you who are really paying attention may be saying “hey, what about the joint angle specificity problem you mentioned above? For many people The 15-20 degree carryover on either side of a specific joint angle is more then enough to supply usable functional strength for all activities. For some blessed with what is termed a type “G” strength curve, training in just about any part of ones ROM will produce results throughout the entire ROM (This is a genetic attribute and not subject to change).

The bottom line is that when performing functional isometrics using the Static Contraction method, one may complete a brief, intense workout in just 3-5 minutes (not including set up, breakdown and rest). Individuals who regularly use this style of training will often rest and recover for 7-10 days (sometimes more) before the next session. For those who feel that they do not have time to strength train, Static Contraction training my be the tool you have been searching for.

Now get to it!

PAU for NOW

TAKU

P.S. Functional isometrics are a great tool to have in your tool box. Whether you decide to buy and use a dedicated machine or to incorporate these into your regular weight workouts, I highly recommend you give Functional isometrics a try. Don’t be surprised to find your strength shooting up to new heights in a few short weeks.

Functional Isometrics: Part One

By TAKU

Static or isometric style strength training has probably been around in one form or another, since the dawn of man. Some see it as a tool only to be used to pass sticking points or as an adjunct to “real” strength training. While others use it as their only form of improving muscular performance. Still, for many the whole concept of training statically may seem strange or appear quite revolutionary. Which ever camp you belong to I assure you that Static / Isometric style training is highly effective and can be quite simple to implement with just a little practice. Lets investigate with a little Q&A:

Q: What are isometrics? A: Isometric training refers to exerting strength without movement. The most classic form of isometric training is pushing or pulling an immovable load.

Q: Why include any form of isometrics? A: You actually recruit more motor-units during an isometric action than during a concentric action.

Q: If isometric training is so good, why doesn’t everyone use it? A: Actually many people use isometric or static training in a variety of applications. However, there are two main problems with pure isometric training:

1. It’s impossible to quantify progress. Since you’re not moving a load, you don’t know if you’re improving or if you’re exerting maximal effort or not. This creates problems with accurately determining progression which may lead to diminished motivation.

2. Isometric training is angle specific, meaning that you’ll gain strength only at the joint angles being worked. (There’s only a 15-20 degree carryover of strength gains.)

Q: Then why bother including isometrics at all? A: Isometric or Static training is one of if not the most efficient forms of strength training available. However due to the above mentioned limitations many people do not explore this form of training.

Luckily there are two solutions available which overcome all of the problems of classic isometrics and make them not only worth including but easy to accurately measure and track for on-going progressive overload.

Functional isometrics

Q: What are Functional isometrics? A: Functional isometrics are a bit different. You still exert force without movement, but you’re actually lifting a load or tracking your force output with dedicated technology.

Q: How do I incorporate these into my training plan? A: There are several ways in which you may include functional isometrics into your training. The first is to purchase a dedicated machine such as the ones available from www.digitalstrangthtraining.com .

Q: What if I can’t afford one of these machines or I don’t want to wait to try Functional isometrics? A: Well, you are in luck. All you need is access to some basic gym equipment and you can start using this highly effective style of training right away.

Q: What exercises can I perform using Functional isometrics? A: This type of exercise can be used with many weight lifting exercises. Traditionally power lifters and Olympic style weightlifters have used static holds to over come sticking points in exercises such as the Bench Press, Deadlift / Clean, and Overhead Press.

I find Functional isometrics to be effective for most of your standard pushing and pulling movements. With access to basic gym equipment such as a leg press, rowing and pull-down machines and a good power cage or Smith Machine you can perform just about any exercise you can think of.

Q: How do I execute a Functional Isometric exercise using standard Weight training equipment? A: You start the bar at a specific height and lift it two to three inches. Then you hold the position for six to ten seconds. You keep on adding weight until you can’t lift and hold it for at least six seconds while maintaining a good lifting posture. This way you’re actually lifting weights and can quantify your progress.

Q: How do I overcome the problem of joint angle specificity? A: If you only perform single angle movements, the problem of joint angle specificity still applies. That’s why some may want to use three positions working the whole range of motion of a selected movement. The three positions are:

1. A few inches after the start position

2. Sticking point

3. A few inches from the final position

For more on Static Isometric training including examples of how to set up and perform basic exercises please read part two of this article.

PAU for NOW

TAKU