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Other/Mixed New training block, Isometrics as primary resistance training

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Cool experiment - I think there's a lot to be mined from isometrics for a lot of applications.

I'm pretty excited to see how it pans out. I've been real light on my conditioning lately due to time constraints and my left knee (torn meniscus verified by MRI) acting up.

If this approach works for size and strength, the aerobic capacity is baked in to the function of it via HIIT. Which would be a great outcome.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Quick update, the fully matured "NCM Isometrics" fitness station:

Realized I didn't need to ever be right over the straps, so offset the holes more toward outside edge, more space for jumping rope.

- Larger deck 2ft x 4 ft with holes instead of edge cutouts, makes the straps easier to manage, more space for supine exercises.
- 5 bead counter
- 14 ft strap, handles to secure pipe/dowel or to simulate cable exercises
- 2" wooden dowel for lifts where hard contact is not your hands
- 1" galvanized pipe for barbell lifts
- homemade jumprope

vZsVmPOl.jpg
 

Ian CL

Level 6 Valued Member
DD is selling these Isochain devices which has a screen that measures force and can give feed back with sound.

 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
@Ian CL

The $500 pricetag on that is just too much for what it does, and the contraption is a bit too limiting in what holds it can accommodate.

I don't mind the idea of accurate measurements - if it could send them to an app on a smartphone would be ideal. The info that would be most helpful - the initial tension spike (and how rapidly it developed) and the decay (or increase) per unit time are the important bits, am not sure it can provide that.
 

Ian CL

Level 6 Valued Member
@Ian CL

The $500 pricetag on that is just too much for what it does, and the contraption is a bit too limiting in what holds it can accommodate.

I don't mind the idea of accurate measurements - if it could send them to an app on a smartphone would be ideal. The info that would be most helpful - the initial tension spike (and how rapidly it developed) and the decay (or increase) per unit time are the important bits, am not sure it can provide that.
I agree. I almost (impulsively) bought it after reading the book Ultimate Isometrics Manual by Paul Wade (good but essentially a Isochain sales pitch). I think it could be a useful piece of equipment for some, but I was able to buy a power rack for essentially the same price.
 

BJJ Shawn

Level 6 Valued Member
@Ian CL

The $500 pricetag on that is just too much for what it does, and the contraption is a bit too limiting in what holds it can accommodate.

I don't mind the idea of accurate measurements - if it could send them to an app on a smartphone would be ideal. The info that would be most helpful - the initial tension spike (and how rapidly it developed) and the decay (or increase) per unit time are the important bits, am not sure it can provide that.

I completely agree that $500 is a crazy price, that's why I was so surprised to see that the important part of the unit is being sold stand alone now for $200: Isochain Stand-Alone Handle | DD

That means they're charging $300 for a chain, spring, and base plate...
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I completely agree that $500 is a crazy price, that's why I was so surprised to see that the important part of the unit is being sold stand alone now for $200: Isochain Stand-Alone Handle | DD

That means they're charging $300 for a chain, spring, and base plate...

My original design didn't have the plywood sheet, it was just a small board to stand on very much like the stripped down Isochain base. It was not very effective for really high tension squat or hinge although I couldn't quite put my finger on why. On a hunch I ran the strap under a larger piece of scrap and the difference was instantly apparent. And since the strap holes are offset, you can lean forward or backward into the lift to pre-load the movement - you don't need a spring. My new improved model with the 1" pipe totals under $100 including the cost of the hack saw and hole saw if you don't already own one or the other, or any straps or scrap plywood.

On a very personal level I think that sort of gear contributes to the bad rap Isometrics get. I might be missing something(s) here but to me its brutally overpriced, has features that don't provide usable data (who cares how much force you generate in detail - its autoregulating! MVC = literally "as hard as you can". Test against a known external load if you're curious), is based on an unimproved proof-of-concept over 50 years old, featuring a center chain that scuttles it for directly approximating the most common cast iron resistance loading patterns aside from biceps curl - its practically designed to disappoint.
 

Adachi

Level 6 Valued Member
I might be missing something(s) here but to me its brutally overpriced
as an aside:
I once did a certain amount of research on what it would take for me to sell my own wares.
And, between warrantying the manufactured item, developing processes, tooling, parts supply relationships, fabrication, etc., for those items, and guaranteeing their performance under adverse (sometimes abusive) use by the customer(this may seem unreasonable but it's the way of the world sometimes); I would say this price, for this product, seems quite reasonable to me.

But, back to Isometrics:
I'm terribly interested in finding out the results of your block of isometric training because I believe it may confirm my basic thesis statement on what is most important for so-called fitness.

my core thesis statement:
It is most important to expose the skeleton and muscles to peak tension events.

The tissues are unaware of (and unconcerned with) the reason for those events.
They know not and care not whether it comes from bands, or barbells, or the mere pull of gravity upon itself.
They only speak and understand the language of tension.

any progress and success you garner in this block will be very informative to my views.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
as an aside:
I once did a certain amount of research on what it would take for me to sell my own wares.
And, between warrantying the manufactured item, developing processes, tooling, parts supply relationships, fabrication, etc., for those items, and guaranteeing their performance under adverse (sometimes abusive) use by the customer(this may seem unreasonable but it's the way of the world sometimes); I would say this price, for this product, seems quite reasonable to me.

But, back to Isometrics:
I'm terribly interested in finding out the results of your block of isometric training because I believe it may confirm my basic thesis statement on what is most important for so-called fitness.

my core thesis statement:
It is most important to expose the skeleton and muscles to peak tension events.

The tissues are unaware of (and unconcerned with) the reason for those events.
They know not and care not whether it comes from bands, or barbells, or the mere pull of gravity upon itself.
They only speak and understand the language of tension.
I'm certain the price reflects the actual cost of the specific materials involved and the digital hardware carries its own supplier driven price, no argument there. I used to build and sell my own tool and knife sharpening hardware that was created, finished, packaged entirely by me aside from some higher end tooling I couldn't do in house. I did all the upfront design and R&D. It was expensive to get going.

That said, for the Isochain there was no real design cost, it is the same platform that Bruce Lee and Bob Hoffman used/sold many decades ago.
The basic unit could be sourced from a home improvement store for under $100 including the cost of the tools needed to build it. That is where I find it to be overpriced.

Back to isometrics - I agree.
Speed of contraction, magnitude and duration are elements of strength, add metabolic stress and you have everything needed for size as well. Previous usage convinced me of its utility. The minimalist doorway program I ran in Summer '20 was far more effective than I thought it would be, and it was very easy to see where it could be improved. Coming across research that put joint angle specificity to rest (eliminating the need for multiple angle approach) made it more practical, whipping up a hardware platform to eliminate all the deficiencies noted in previous attempts was the final piece.

I feel like I have a winning lottery ticket in my pocket, but have to wait a couple months for the drawing (and to find out if the pot is big or only a few dollars). Am also curious what will be lacking/self limiting from this approach and if I will be able to hit my weight gain target. Lots of questions and only one way to answer them - sweat and a notebook.
 

BillSteamshovel

Level 5 Valued Member
That's why I recommend only pitting lower vs 100% immovable resistance, or upper vs lower, where you know and can easily demonstrate a winner/loser relationship.
So would you do things like ummmm ...... Try to push your car up the driveway with the handbrake on ? Get under the car and try to do a bench press ? Try to lift the car up by squatting down put your hands under the towbar and pushing up with leg muscles ?

Am interested because my physio currently has got me doing isometrics with one arm fighting the other in various orientations in an attempt to strengthen wrist and forearm to assist with golfers elbow. I was wondering about substituting immovable objects instead of pitting my arms against eachother.

Approx. 55 years ago my Mum had a book called something like the Power of Isometrics where they did things like stand inside a doorframe (immovable frame) and try to push the lintel away, or raise the hands laterally against the sides of the frame I cannot remember much more about that book.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
So would you do things like ummmm ...... Try to push your car up the driveway with the handbrake on ? Get under the car and try to do a bench press ? Try to lift the car up by squatting down put your hands under the towbar and pushing up with leg muscles ?

Am interested because my physio currently has got me doing isometrics with one arm fighting the other in various orientations in an attempt to strengthen wrist and forearm to assist with golfers elbow. I was wondering about substituting immovable objects instead of pitting my arms against eachother.

Approx. 55 years ago my Mum had a book called something like the Power of Isometrics where they did things like stand inside a doorframe (immovable frame) and try to push the lintel away, or raise the hands laterally against the sides of the frame I cannot remember much more about that book.

For rehab and remedial strength gains it is perfectly fine to pit upper body against itself. This does work, but unless one has unusual levels of muscular exertion awareness you won't be able to make gains comparable to external loads.

Other improvised means like DL a car bumper would be fine. Benching it or pushing it would depend on muscle length and ability to brace. The need to train target muscles at long length makes it tough to use improvised means.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Could you fit something like this somewhere on your diy equipment ?
Gorilla 300kg Crane Scale thats $78 Australian so $50ish US

Bluetooth ones are available on Alibaba - would enable automatic recording on phone perhaps ?
That is def a possibility although ultimately I still believe one should measure using some other means entirely and not bother with scales.

"As fast as you can" and "as hard as you can" shouldn't be improvable based on what a scale says. Also a lot of studies reported good outcome at 70%MVC and up, while max effort is the goal it isn't even required. If you don't improve vs some external load testing the approach is a bust anyway.

Edit to add:
There is very interesting research that attempted to determine fiber type activation for various holds based on % MVC - at 30%, glucose depletion was almost entirely in type I fibers. As % MVC increased it switched over pretty decisively to type II fibers - at 50% MVC "dominated" (according to this study...).


If this were to be accurate, being able to measure MVC would actually be more useful for training at fairly precise submax efforts. Assuming there was some benefit to doing so, having a scale is about the only way one could apply it.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Did a quick test vs a known load on an exercise with reasonably good carryover to what I'm doing isometrically, the trusty back-loaded pushup with a 105lb bag, about 255lb resistance.

Haven't done any of these since mid August and at the time my max was a Cluster of 5x3, so approx 8-10 rep max. Last time I did straight sets of these was 2019 at 205 lbs bodyweight I could do 9 reps with a 95 lb bag. Currently 194lbs, up 2 from last month although I look smaller to me, have probably lost a little bodyfat. Yesterday hit the 105lb bag for a dozen, technically a new PR for this exercise without directly training it (felt strong through the entire range, not just at the bottom).

When I check my repmax chart I should be able to toss another 90lb on my back for a single...Hmmm, I don't think so. But for sure those are some solid reps and put me working with heavier loads than I was benching in my 20s.

For the curious, from the original plan I've morphed to a 3x weekly schedule, 4 repeats per hold for 10 seconds on, 30 seconds off, followed by 2 intervals of jumprope HIIT at 12 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Chopped one repeat and reduced the hold time from the original plan.
 

rwleonard

Level 7 Valued Member
This thread has given me the final push to make my own iso-station. I am a week into it, starting out with the DL/OH Press/Curl selection at 3 ten seconds holds each, after my A+A snatching.

Too early to determine results, but this is certainly an interesting way to work on irradiation/zipping-up, if nothing else.

Thanks for the thread, NCM.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
@rwleonard
Wasn't planning on testing when I did, but am glad I took the plunge - gave me a lot of confidence to continue this for another 8 weeks minimum.


This is the current incarnation of the base board. I added grip knockouts that double as midpoint pass through if needed and make it a lot more convenient to transport. Starting to look like a mini immobilization backboard...

rrDb7R1l.jpg
 

Training for Life

Level 5 Valued Member
For the curious, from the original plan I've morphed to a 3x weekly schedule, 4 repeats per hold for 10 seconds on, 30 seconds off, followed by 2 intervals of jumprope HIIT at 12 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Chopped one repeat and reduced the hold time from the original plan.
Thanks for the update. Very interesting stuff. Pardon me if you mentioned it before, but is the HIIT component just for conditioning and fat burn, or is there a strength relation?

Also as a side note, there is some stuff on doing isometrics against immovable objects for strength in the book ”Never Gymless” by Ross Enamait. I don’t remember exactly what it states, but there were some pretty interesting usage of door frames and walls as something to push against. You might find it worthwhile to check out.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Thanks for the update. Very interesting stuff. Pardon me if you mentioned it before, but is the HIIT component just for conditioning and fat burn, or is there a strength relation?

Also as a side note, there is some stuff on doing isometrics against immovable objects for strength in the book ”Never Gymless” by Ross Enamait. I don’t remember exactly what it states, but there were some pretty interesting usage of door frames and walls as something to push against. You might find it worthwhile to check out.

My understanding of and experience with Iso leads me to believe it must be paired with some form of glucose depletion, Iso uses so little glucose it doesn't even really enhance insulin response, antioxidative response. HIIT happens to work great since you can interleave it with the low cost Iso and cover all your bases while also improving cardio. Without it the hypertrophic and hormone response will be pretty stingy.

I'll have to look more into Ross' approach. I've experimented with improvised Iso using a doorframe and it worked OK, but was unable to properly load a lot of fundamental postures and at long muscle length.
 

TheWolf

Level 2 Valued Member
@Pet,
The literature doesn't really support the notion that an Iso hold needs to be done at multiple angles to gain strength throughout. Testing showed that training at longer lengths produced comparable strength gains, and training multiple angles would be too time consuming.

I have only been running this for three weeks and two of those were not "complete" as-scheduled weeks, missing several sessions. Am planning to do a quick test in mid Oct. As I sit typing, my:

- arthritic knee, arthritic lower back, inflammation in my neck all feel pretty good. In case of my knee, better than it has in 3-4 months.

- whole body feels pretty pumped even though I haven't trained since yesterday if you don't count the short jump rope HIIT I did at 6:30am. There is a general "heat" sensation coming off my body I know well, that tells me if I want to put on mass I only need to eat more.
Read Ross Enamait's Infinite Intensity, Isometric Chapter. He makes an interesting observation on the multiple angles:

The ability to target specific joint angles makes isometrics a perfect choice to
overcome sticking points in dynamic movements. Suppose you are struggling to
improve your overhead dumbbell press. You can press the dumbbell 5 inches
overhead, but you become “stuck” at this point. To overcome this sticking point,
you can specifically train this joint angle by pressing upward against an
immobile object. You could position yourself under a door entrance and press
upward at the identical angle. You will be able to exert maximal tension, and
direct it specifically to the joint angle in need. While discussing joint angles,
I should point out that isometrics were once thought to only train a specific joint angle.
Recent studies however suggest that strength increases over a range of 15 to 20 degrees
on either side of the training angle. This potential limitation is easily overcome
by training several angles (ex. starting point, mid-point, end-point) of a specific movement.
 
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