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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)

Pantrolyx

Level 6 Valued Member
Very interesting read.
I am slighly hooked on isometrics nowadays (and yes, I have bought the isochain), one of the main reasons being that I want to combine strength gains with martial arts training and many other time and energy consuming assets of the normal week. Isometrics deadlift seems to be a piece of genius in that regard thus far - quick strength gains with low impact on recovery and a truly minimal risk of injury is a combination I can easily fancy.

I also like doing isometrics drills on escrima sticks nowadays, like holding a kimura/double wrist lock for 6-8 seconds with maximum pressure. The pump is apparent, but the sport speficfic gains have to be evaluated over time.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
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.

So I went looking for the research to back up this often quoted limitation of isometrics and found the evidence to both support and dispute it at the same time.

I picked two from the ones I found because these demonstrate the principle on both a muscle that is normally lengthened at rest and one that is normally shortened at rest, the results were identical, training at longer muscle length produces gains at that length and at all shorter lengths as well. Get within 15-20° of the endpoint ROM and you don't need to train multiple angles.

Specificity kicks in strongest when training at shorter muscle length, so if doing compound exercises you have to be mindful of what muscles are being stretched and which ones are starting out at shorter length. It makes sense from an isotonic standpoint as well - hard to imagine getting stronger at pushing a bar off your chest or squatting out of the hole the first few inches but not having carryover to the remaining ROM, but only training the last few inches of travel is not going to help you out at the bottom.

Also found some evidence to support a higher potential for injury training the finish endpoint of the ROM due to increasing joint pressures from greater muscle leverage.

Biceps:
The least specificity was observed for the group that trained in the lengthened position; an MVC improvement as significant as for the training angle (25°) was found at three adjacent angles (50, 80, and 100°).

Quads:
Further analyses indicated that exercising in the lengthened position for the quadriceps femoris muscles (90° of knee flexion) produced increased torque across all angles measured (30, 60, 90°)
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Very interesting read.
I am slighly hooked on isometrics nowadays (and yes, I have bought the isochain), one of the main reasons being that I want to combine strength gains with martial arts training and many other time and energy consuming assets of the normal week. Isometrics deadlift seems to be a piece of genius in that regard thus far - quick strength gains with low impact on recovery and a truly minimal risk of injury is a combination I can easily fancy.

I also like doing isometrics drills on escrima sticks nowadays, like holding a kimura/double wrist lock for 6-8 seconds with maximum pressure. The pump is apparent, but the sport speficfic gains have to be evaluated over time.


Please continue to report back your observations.
The most interesting thing I'm finding with my current approach is it packs a lot into a small amount of relative training time. Imagine trying to squeeze a couple HIIT intervals between 3-4 sets of hard isotonics - you'd be smoked and need two days to recover. With Iso I finish feeling great.

Re the isochain, can it record peak tension/tension over a given time period or is it straight up real-time? I ask because possibly the best benefit I can think of from training this way is the increase in rapid power generation. I normally pre-load at estimated 20% and when the timer beeps I hit it with everything I got.

Plotted on a graph I'd expect to see a big spike, modest drop off, and a ramp back up over the next 6-8 seconds or so. A great training goal would be to maintain tension after that initial jolt.
 

Kenny Croxdale

Level 7 Valued Member
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.
Isometric Training At Multiple Angles

As per....
,,,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.
The ability to target specific joint angles makes isometrics a perfect choice to
overcome sticking points in dynamic movements.

While some strength is developed above and "15 to 20 degrees on either side of the training angle", strength is not increased to the same degree as in the specific degree of the Isometric Action.

Which bring us back what TheWolf stated, an Isometric Action at a specific angle allow strength in the sticking/weak point to be of a movement to be increase.

Information regarding the fact that strength is increased "Over a range of 15 to 20 degrees on either side of the training angle" has been address/post this site multiple times.

With that said, additional information that been previously posted...

The Sticking Point Isometric Training

The Sticking Point has a similar relationship to a car running out of gas.

The car will continue to roll forward before it stops.

Thus, where car stop is not where it ran out gas.

Essentially, that applies the Sticking Point.

Thus, with Isometric Training to increase the Sticking Point, and the Isometric Action training angle need to be performed just below where the bar stop moving, as well.

Partial Range Movement

Partial Range Movement elicit a similar effect; allowing a individual to work on the Sticking Point.

Training At Multiple Angles

For an individual interested with increasing strength in different part of the movement, it is a great investment.
 

Pantrolyx

Level 6 Valued Member
Please continue to report back your observations.
The most interesting thing I'm finding with my current approach is it packs a lot into a small amount of relative training time. Imagine trying to squeeze a couple HIIT intervals between 3-4 sets of hard isotonics - you'd be smoked and need two days to recover. With Iso I finish feeling great.

Re the isochain, can it record peak tension/tension over a given time period or is it straight up real-time? I ask because possibly the best benefit I can think of from training this way is the increase in rapid power generation. I normally pre-load at estimated 20% and when the timer beeps I hit it with everything I got.

Plotted on a graph I'd expect to see a big spike, modest drop off, and a ramp back up over the next 6-8 seconds or so. A great training goal would be to maintain tension after that initial jolt.

Yes, it does record the maximal power output during a hold.
You can also make it beep when you reach a certain lever of power output (for a certain number of seconds, optionally).
It can boost your ego when you suddenly experience the feeling of deadlifting way up in the 300 kilo-range, albeit with a beneficial starting point. :cool:
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Information regarding the fact that strength is increased "Over a range of 15 to 20 degrees on either side of the training angle" has been address/post this site multiple times.

As mentioned, this factor gets quoted all over the place re isometrics, but when you look for the research that backs it up you find that it isn't nearly as well-supported as you might think - it appears to be very conditional based on joint angle selection.

Also worth pointing out that isotonic max force development is never tested at multiple joint angles except to support use of full ROM - the equivalent of training Isometrics at longer muscle lengths/wider joint angles.
 

Kenny Croxdale

Level 7 Valued Member
As mentioned, this factor gets quoted all over the place re isometrics, but when you look for the research that backs it up you find that it isn't nearly as well-supported as you might think - it appears to be very conditional based on joint angle selection.

There is research as well as anecdotal data that has demonstrated that "Strength increases over a range of 15 to 20 degrees
on either side of the training angle".


That is why this method has been advocated by and employed by Strength Coaches: Bill Starr, Chris Thibaudeau, Charles Poliquin. Josh Bryan and others.

As TheWolf noted, "The ability to target specific joint angles makes isometrics a perfect choice to overcome sticking points in dynamic movements."

This is one the greatest benefits of Isometric Strength Training in the Stick Point area.

Functional Isometrics

Several previous post have presented information on this, as means of increasing strength in the Stick Point area.

Training Examples

The common sticking point for a Conventional Deadlifter is in the knee area.

Thus, Conventional Powerlifter often perform Rack Deadlifts in the range specific knee area in a Power Rack.

Anna Halting Deadlifts (Post 130)


"Yesterday I pulled 300x5 (a long time goal!) and it moved so much faster off the floor.

I've been doing the Halting deadlift
just as demonstrated in your point 4 above from the Mark Rippetoe video, to just above the knee and keeping the shoulders out over the bar. 3x8, as he recommends. 1/14 I did 185x8x3, 1/25 I did 205x8x3, aand 2/11 I did 215x8x3. Each time it felt like a lot of work specifically targeted for that weak point, but not a lot of "deadlift heavy" work that required a lot of recovery.

Halting Deadlifts as with specific range Isometric, targeted her Sticking Point.

Performing Rack Pulls would not have increased her strength in breaking the weight off the floor.

The same is true in performing Isometric Action from let's say the top end part of any movement.

Practical Experience

Years ago, Hollie Evette (National Powerlifting Champion and Strength Coach) introduced me to Isometrics and Functional Isometrics.

He devised an Isometric Training Program for my Bench Press performed from multiple angles, with an emphasis on the Sticking Point.

I followed plan but was skeptical. However, at the Powerlifting Meet, I posted a Personal Bench Press Record.

I continue to employ Sticking Point Isometrics and Functional Isometrics in my training.

I have also worked with other lifter with strengthening their Sticking Point Training; in that specific range.

Take Home Message

1) The Law of Specificity

This definitely applies to increasing strength in a lifter Sticking Point.

As the saying goes, "Your only as strong as you weakest link".

2) Anecdotal Data

If focusing on the development of strength in the Sticking Point area wasn't effective, it would not have been advocated by some of the best Strength Coaches in the field: Starr, Thibaueau, Poliquin, Bryant and others.

Essentially, with Strength Coaches, as with all vocation, "Produce or Perish" applies.

If a Strength Coach can't produce result, they are gone.

That applies to all vocations.
 
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rwleonard

Level 7 Valued Member
How might functional isometrics apply to athletes other than power lifters? Most athletes don't really use a "full range of motion." A boxer doesn't need starting strength off his chest, and a sprinter doesn't touch his hamstrings to his calf on each stride. Can these athletes productively concentrate their isometric training on their sport's functional range of motion?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
1) The Law of Specificity

This definitely applies to increasing strength in lifter Sticking Point.

As the saying goes, "Your only as strong as you weakest link".

2) Anecdotal Data....
Again, when Iso is used at a sticking point, which is pretty much always at the initiation or very close, it is being used at longer muscle length.

Research demonstrates this improves strength through the entire ROM, it doesn't just dissipate as the muscle shortens. Research also demonstrates that training partial isotonic reps at the finishing end of a lift does very little for strength at the bottom although specificity says it will improve the range at which it is trained. It should come as no surprise that isometrics follow the same principle, borne out by research.

The way in which it is commonly used by strength coaches does not eliminate the possibility of further un-looked for or untested benefit, esp when combined with other training strategies. If one is preparing to compete in powerlifting, Iso absolutely must take a minor role. For GPP I'm not so sure...
 

Kenny Croxdale

Level 7 Valued Member
I understand this is a new area that you are experimenting with; so there is a learning curve.

However, the range specificity training of any movement in the Sticking Point area is essentially to minimizing it.

Training in other ranges will provide minimal increases in the Sticking Point, rather than optimal.

At this point, there no reason to discuss this any further.

Good luck with your training this.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
How might functional isometrics apply to athletes other than power lifters? Most athletes don't really use a "full range of motion." A boxer doesn't need starting strength off his chest, and a sprinter doesn't touch his hamstrings to his calf on each stride. Can these athletes productively concentrate their isometric training on their sport's functional range of motion?


For boxing I came across this n Jason VanV's channel years ago, very similar to how I used them back when I was into kickboxing. This gets you very solid to the floor, and if mindful it can be used to increase stability when landing punches. I also used to use them from a full chamber under the theory that it would improve acceleration mechanics and maybe neuro firing.


For a sprinter you could maybe get harnessed up to prevent you from moving off the blocks, IDK. The lines of resistance you apply would have to mirror almost 100% the greatest actual drag encountered in the sport, or it won't be much help and could maybe hinder development. As a secondary consideration it can be used to increase tendon stiffness or in the other direction it has been shown to increase elastic energy storage (depending on how you train it) - that effect was not as strong as demonstrated ability to increase stiffness, which went up about 200% IIRC.


Here is a pretty interesting interview:

We trained the SL isometric mid-thigh pull as our only strength stimulus for a number of months through the competitive cycle (effectively an Iso-Push exercise). Max. Force increased by 35% and we improved her stride length, contact time and stride frequency at race pace and consequently her vVO2max. The only change/intervention to her programme was the isometric training.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I understand this is a new area that you are experimenting with; so there is a learning curve...

Good luck with your training this.
Thank you. I will continue to update the community on any success or failure I experience. I would also add that this isn't entirely new to me, have been using iso for many, many years, although the current specific application is indeed very new.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Thanks for sharing this with us.
You're very welcome. I am taking a wait and see for the mass building aspect, but as far as strength am becoming increasingly certain this is a viable approach.

Mid day cold-start test of One Arm Rows using 105lb bag, no warmup, no shakeout, grab the bag and go.

Wasn't going to test this for another week or so but honestly I continue to feel some doubt no matter how confidently I'm talking about this - If its not carrying over to isotonics at the start of my 5th full week I need to know. Hit 11 reps with full scapular ROM, the 12th didn't quite chamber all the way (I would have counted it as a "rep" in my log though!).

Prior training reps with Clusters was 3, so a theoretical max of about 6, 8 tops.

Prior known training max for straight sets was 10 reps with a 90lb bag at 10lbs heavier bodyweight back in 2019.

You can see where this is going...
I have not trained full ROM on these since mid August followed by a month of detraining and tinkering, dialing in the holds and gear for the Iso block. Since then nothing but Iso. I train with the scap forward, basically the bottom of the ROM, any strength gains should have only translated to the first few inches - with about 18" of travel at the elbow, 20° of strength improvement would have only helped for about 3-4 inches of load elevation and not at all at the top 3-4 inches of the lift where the moment arm is at its longest.
 

Eyetic

Level 5 Valued Member
Crazy thought of mine, what about mixing this kind of training with BFR (blood flow restriction)? in order to have more hypertrophy results?

I listened last podcast from "TheDrive" and was pretty interesting and got me wondering if you can mix up both things at least for legs or arms...
 

BJJ Shawn

Level 6 Valued Member
Crazy thought of mine, what about mixing this kind of training with BFR (blood flow restriction)? in order to have more hypertrophy results?

I listened last podcast from "TheDrive" and was pretty interesting and got me wondering if you can mix up both things at least for legs or arms...
I don't think that's a good idea, from what I have read on BFR it's not good to use it with high tension exercises and is only safe with low weights/high reps.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Crazy thought of mine, what about mixing this kind of training with BFR (blood flow restriction)? in order to have more hypertrophy results?

I listened last podcast from "TheDrive" and was pretty interesting and got me wondering if you can mix up both things at least for legs or arms...
Its been tested with low levels of tension and worked alright, using it with MVC, I don't know...
 

Eyetic

Level 5 Valued Member
I don't think that's a good idea, from what I have read on BFR it's not good to use it with high tension exercises and is only safe with low weights/high reps.
I don't really know, was just thinking about it as I was reading of the application of BFR to patients without actually exercising.

A good read if anyone wants some entertaining (P-BFR section is the one that gave me the thought)
Blood Flow Restriction Exercise: Considerations of Methodology, Application, and Safety

Anyway I was just brainstorming here I'm not recomending BFR, the approach @North Coast Miller is taking is remarkable and the low impact of this kind of training in the long term may be like a win-win.
 

ChrisPayne75

First Post
@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.
I'm a little late to this post and I may have missed someone mentioning it. Which literature are you refering?

Also I believe there are studies done that you can find o the NIH website showing it was more beneficial to do 3 different ranges of motion They also had a contract and relax time during the movements that were pretty interesting. i'll see if
I can link the article.
 
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