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Static Contraction Training and Isometric training - Pete Sisco

By Pete Sisco - Developer of Static Contraction Training

What is Isometric Exercise

Isometric refers to exercise involving no movement. Using the bench press as an example, an isometric contraction would involve holding the bar in a stationary position with no up or down movement. Conventional exercise is isotonic and employs concentric and eccentric movement. Pressing the bar from your chest to the full extent of your reach is the concentric movement and lowering it back to your chest is the eccentric movement.

Fifty years ago Charles Atlas made isometric training famous. His mail-order courses to help 90-pound weaklings from getting sand kicked in their faces in front of their girlfriends showed trainees how to get strong without using weights. His Dynamic Tension method involved pressing your arms outward against the frame of a doorway or grabbing a doorknob and trying to lift up on it.

Soon the York Barbell Company offered a special power rack that trapped a barbell between two hold-downs and allowed trainees to generate much higher power using isometric movements. But both of the above approaches had a serious flaw.

How do you measure?

If you pull up on a doorknob as hard as you can on Tuesday, how do you know you are pulling up harder next Saturday? And how much harder? 8%? 17%? The same problem exists pressing a barbell against hold-downs. Exactly how hard are you pushing?

In 1999 John Little and I wrote Static Contraction Training after doing some experiments with bodybuilders. In a nutshell, we had them hold heavy weights in their strongest range of motion and measured the effects on their muscle mass, measurements and static and full range strength. The results were startling. Mass gains up to 29 pounds, an average of 51.3% increase static strength after only 10 weeks doing workouts consisting of 2 minutes of actual exercise.

What made this accuracy of measurement possible was that Static Contraction Training used real weights that could be quantified whereas the old Isometric systems could not be quantified from workout to workout.

The other very significant difference is that we've conducted continuing studies to determine the optimum hold time for a contraction. We started out using 20 to 30 second hold times, which did work but we've improved results remarkably with reduced hold times.

The latest form of Static Contraction Training offers something the old Isometric methods never did: ultra-high intensity and consistent, measurable results. I recommend you give it a try. What have you got to lose?

All the best,