Honest Effort

Whosonfirst

Level 6 Valued Member
Is going to be very minimalist. Only a doorframe, basement jack, small tree etc will be needed.
Have been working on the specific exercises and they will undoubtedly evolve somewhat over time, but basic stuff.

The holds themselves will be about 4seconds on followed by a quick 2-3 second unfolding/extension/flexion of the target joints, this sequence repeated 10x equals one set.

I'm not sure what to expect for adaptive response. Am hoping to get good holding and grind strength plus a bit of hypertrophy from the added muscle lengthening/shortening between exertions. The tinkering I did leading up to this has been pretty promising.

Starts up tomorrow and I'll post up some videos in a week or two.
Interesting on your isometrics routines. I believe Jack LaLanne used them at times. Since I've gotten older, I've utilized some of his ideas on using lighter weights and higher reps. The thing I've noticed about age, it affect joints and ligaments first before the muscles.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Interesting on your isometrics routines. I believe Jack LaLanne used them at times. Since I've gotten older, I've utilized some of his ideas on using lighter weights and higher reps. The thing I've noticed about age, it affect joints and ligaments first before the muscles.
Some good basic research out there re isometric effect on tendon health.

Longer holds increase tendon density, short pulses increase tendon elastic properties, both approaches lead to similar strength and size gains.

Using longer (20-30 second) efforts is very taxing mentally, I wasn't able to do them more than 2x week.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has advocated rapidly lengthening/shortening the muscle between "reps", but am sure it must have been explored already.
 

Whosonfirst

Level 6 Valued Member
Some good basic research out there re isometric effect on tendon health.

Longer holds increase tendon density, short pulses increase tendon elastic properties, both approaches lead to similar strength and size gains.

Using longer (20-30 second) efforts is very taxing mentally, I wasn't able to do them more than 2x week.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has advocated rapidly lengthening/shortening the muscle between "reps", but am sure it must have been explored already.
I like to use negative holds with my pullups, which I believe are momentary iso's. They are brutally hard as the time gets longers.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
First iso session yesterday observations:
- took just over 30 minutes to do 3 sets ea of 4 exercises unilateral. So really 24 sets, not 12.
- generated a ton of heat compared to longer duration holds, soaked my Tshirt.
- today, just a small amount of residual muscle heat and DOMS, mostly in glutes and obliques. This is actually increasing as the day goes on, may have to revise later.
- at the conclusion there was no real pump, and overall recovery felt physically easier than a traditional session but CNS felt a little more taxed.
- initially felt as though it took about 2 seconds to really hit max contraction power, am actively working to trigger that more rapidly.
 

move

Level 4 Valued Member
What kind of exercises did you do and how long did you hold the contraction on average?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
What kind of exercises did you do and how long did you hold the contraction on average?
Exertions are approx 3-4 seconds followed by a quick flex/extension of a second or three, run to 10 repeats.

Upper body:
Stand with trunk about a foot away from doorframe. Lower hand pulls at about hip level, upper hand pushes about collarbone level.
Using anterior chain plus push with legs, plus push/pull upper body, attempt to fold the doorframe at the lower pulling hand, pushing the upper part away from you, pulling lower part toward. Use arm circles or quick horizontal swing of the arm fore and aft between exertions.

Shift push/pull assignments for hands so now you are attempting to fold the upper half toward you, and lower half away, using posterior chain to brace/power the action.

For legs, get a step back from the doorframe, bring up lead leg and brace ball of foot against frame, both legs bent about 30 degrees. Attempt to drive the lead leg up and into the frame at about 45degrees. You will feel this more in the glutes/hamstrings of the support leg.

Face away from the frame and lean forward about 45degrees, brace trailing foot, flat to the doorframe behind you. Again, both legs bent about 30 degrees at the knee. Attempt to drive trailing foot back and up into the frame. This time you should feel it more in quads of bracing leg.
Both leg movements you should feel strong adductor activation. Execute a quick extension/flexion of both legs after each exertion.

All of these are unilateral. I have some others that use only doorframe, basement post, small tree etc but these are the initial batch.
 

move

Level 4 Valued Member
Good stuff, look forward to your video's.
I just realised one of the best isometric exercise ( if you can it that) is something I do with my outdoor workout mates. We take a strong tree branch, 3 guys on each end and try to pull as hard as possible ( so a bit like rope pulling) When the teams are equally match this fires up my back more than KB rows.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Chopped off a set on everthing, so 2 unilateral =16 total sets.

Heated up quick and was sweating profusely after the first sets of high/low.

Really focusing on reaching peak effort in shortest possible time. Making a number of small tweaks to form to spread the pain around as uniformly as possible. Even with the other iso I've done, overcoming isometrics always feel alien to me.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Third iso session, these are startung to feel normal. Hitting legs hard is difficult, core and upper body pretty easy. Feel good on off days, so far so good.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Fourth of 18 planned sessions. Am feeling like I'm dialing in the fine points on my chosen leg movements. Upper body still coming along. On off days am feeling good and solid.

Am planning on developing another set of 4 exercises to swap out, but might just stick with the 4 I'm currently doing as part of the bare minimum. Plus I want to know exactly what is producing any results I get longer term.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Back to the grind, had to take about two weeks off for travel, my left knee acting up, and the base of my big toe swelling up like a plum, couldn't tell if it was insect bite or sprain of some sort. Am resetting the start date of 6 weeks trial to today.

Basic template is the same, but the between effort movements are more energetic and targeted to the working muscle.

Am establishing a list of principles for doing isometrics without benefit of straps etc, just doorframe, wall, tree - in reality these principles will apply to all iso even if done with other equipment.

Have noticed that unless there is a disadvantaged movement, the tendency is to find an effortful equilibrium that feels like a max effort but in reality one is holding back one or more aspects to maintain a specific position or posture, a la "dynamic tension". This tendency needs to be overcome to get best results.

Doing so also turns the isometric into a limited ROM eccentric if you so choose. As a thought exercise, imagine a rig with two pipes connected by a rope for doing curls at midpoint of ROM, beginning with legs slightly bent. You curl with max effort and movement stops, you then begin to straighten the legs, forcing the elbow angle to open. You don't need to go far or at all, but the added force from the attempt allows the working muscles to recalibrate for more effort/force production, or if at top limit it simply turns into an eccentric effort. In this example, the muscles to the legs and posterior are so much more powerful they easily overcome resistance from the biceps.

From a practical standpoint, these muscles all work together when used to do daily tasks that are similar to a hands forward carry/lift - using the strongest muscles in the chain to do the most work, and the weaker ones contribute in a more static role.

And so it goes for every exercise. Failure to consider this means for a given movement you might not be able to readily ID the most stressed movement pattern, esp if you don't know how to pose yourself at outset to allow for overtravel of supporting movement. Mad musings....
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Yesterday's session included lateral shoulder and calf raises - single leg braced against both hands on upper doorframe.

Almost feels like I can do this more often than a traditional session. Maybe not every day but perhaps 5days/week.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Continuing at a 3x week pace and will take stock at end of Sept, around my 53rd Bday. Am becoming used to sensation of exertion specific to overcoming Isometrics. Have continued to increase the speed with which I apply force, and also speed of unloaded limb movements between exertions.

Concurrently am digging and sledgehammer concrete demo'ing prep to lay about 275sq ft of pavers, soil has very high clay content. Shoveling is another good example of my theory that in real life push movements should be trained with biceps, and pull should be trained with triceps.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Continuing isometrics, have added a hinge movement. Now have enough movements to make for a daily routine and am becoming increasingly used to sensation of overcoming iso.

Added a hinge movement and will be experimenting with single leg squat. Was suprised at how much DOMS my calfs experienced the day after my last session.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Experimenting today, used very low resistance calisthenics 5-8 reps between iso efforts. One arm pushups from upright position with body leaning forward maybe 20° or so, facing away from doorframe used sort of an abbreviated dip push to get blood to my lats and traps. Used a half squat with a bit of a forward lean for legs - trap bar DL shortened ROM. On their own these would barely be a warmup.

Not sure if it did anything more than I'm getting from just quickly moving the target joint through a full ROM with a full stretch and compress using no load. Both methods promote blood flow to the muscle and both (surprisingly) become very fatiguing by the last repeat.

I suspect that the best practices are going to be rapid, unloaded movement of the joint with full ROM on flexion and stopping just short on extension to spare the joint.

Overall my build seems to be holding steady/improving slightly. I feel like I'm shrinking but my shirts are maybe feeling smaller...I suspect iso training improves passive tension more than external resistance training, which also jibes with the lightness of limb one feels after iso that is absent from resistance training.

Am going to apply the basic principles to some grip work. Is starting to look like I'll need to train 5x/week if I want to hit everything I plan on targeting.
 

SteveR

Level 2 Valued Member
@North Coast Miller. Thanks for the great Isometric ideas. Your leg exercises look like they could have a nice benefit to hiking/rucking on hilly terrain. I'm starting to experiment with alternating some isometrics days with Q&D days for that purpose.

Any suggestions on how to handle asymmetrical strength when using unilateral isometrics?

I assume just more reps for the side that needs it the most.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I'll be honest, it didn't even occur to me I should be looking for imbalances...I don't really have any way to measure.

I'm shooting for max voluntary contraction, and whatever that is, that's what it is.

After the 6 weeks are up I'll go back and test on my sandbags. The movements aren't really close enough to see much carryover, but if I stayed the same or improved RPE I'll call it a win.
 

SteveR

Level 2 Valued Member
I'll be honest, it didn't even occur to me I should be looking for imbalances...I don't really have any way to measure.

I'm shooting for max voluntary contraction, and whatever that is, that's what it is.

After the 6 weeks are up I'll go back and test on my sandbags. The movements aren't really close enough to see much carryover, but if I stayed the same or improved RPE I'll call it a win.
Now that you mention it, I don't notice so much that my right leg is stronger than my left when rucking up hills. It is mainly the unilateral RPE in the gym when the load is measurable.

Your approach is better than my overthinking. I'm sure if both legs get stronger in their own way, I'll only notice the hills are a little easier and call it a win, too!

Thanks again for the great isometrics insights!
 
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