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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
As a semi-final update for the skeptical and those who might be curious but not enough to wade through my training log. I hit 202 at my heaviest, currently around 199, a gain of 10lbs pretty lean at nearly 3lbs per month. Progress pic shows 7lb gain. Am starting to add dynamic work back in but will maintain 1/3 total volume isometrics.

If my joints start acting up will default back to 100% isometrics.

 

Eyetic

Level 5 Valued Member
As a semi-final update for the skeptical and those who might be curious but not enough to wade through my training log. I hit 202 at my heaviest, currently around 199, a gain of 10lbs pretty lean at nearly 3lbs per month. Progress pic shows 7lb gain. Am starting to add dynamic work back in but will maintain 1/3 total volume isometrics.

If my joints start acting up will default back to 100% isometrics.

WTH! Congrats! You were huge and you are still huge btw ahahahah
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
WTH! Congrats!
Thanks, its been a strange journey. Metabolically it is more challenging to "make it work" than isotonics, but in general I sunk most of the supposed inherent drawbacks associated with isometrics.

Working back into some regular lifting and it feels as alien as the isometrics did when I started. For me though, my day-to-day is a lot more like iso than dynamic, very happy with the outcome.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Excellent work. Do you keep a log of your iso training? I tried to find it, but am new to the forum (joined specifically to read this thread).

The topic interests me because I also switched to isometrics as my principal strength training method during the pandemic. I took a layoff from barbell lifting, and used bodyweight and rubber bands (and later isos) exclusively for 16 months. When I went back to the weights, the results were very pleasing. I'm back in "lockdown" now due to soaring COVID-19 cases in my area, so training with isometrics again.

I'm also curious about the protocols you used, duration, frequency, deloading, etc. My isometric device is a length of steel pipe and two Forearm Forklift straps, so not as high tech as your platform.
Straps and pipe, check! You're a 2'x4' sheet of plywood away from high tech!

My complete logs are in the public training log sub tagged under "Honest Effort". Date for this block goes back about to mid September '21.

I highly recommend the board, started out without one, then with a 4inch board, finally a deck - although a very simple change, the deck is a quantum leap foreward.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Whoa... that's amazing! I've gained mass with isometrics before, but everyone told me it wasn't possible so I stopped raving about them. I still train with them regularly.

If you don't mind me asking (because I'm sure the answer is in the thread somewhere), how long were your holds and / or total time?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Whoa... that's amazing! I've gained mass with isometrics before, but everyone told me it wasn't possible so I stopped raving about them. I still train with them regularly.

If you don't mind me asking (because I'm sure the answer is in the thread somewhere), how long were your holds and / or total time?
Hold time has varied a little but generally about 8-10 seconds for 4 or 5 exertions, each followed by 20 rapid pulls at about 1/2 second per, 20 seconds rest. These are done whole body with 6 exercises.

Gaining mass using them is not as easy as using isotonics but can def be done and without beating the body up so much. My POV the lack of metabolic stress is the biggest drawback.

A lot of people who haven't put in the work with it will confidently repeat all manner of supposedly established "facts" re iso, the truth is a little different. Has limitations to be sure, but so do other modes/strategies.
 

Kev

Level 6 Valued Member
Hold time has varied a little but generally about 8-10 seconds for 4 or 5 exertions, each followed by 20 rapid pulls at about 1/2 second per, 20 seconds rest. These are done whole body with 6 exercises.

Gaining mass using them is not as easy as using isotonics but can def be done and without beating the body up so much. My POV the lack of metabolic stress is the biggest drawback.

A lot of people who haven't put in the work with it will confidently repeat all manner of supposedly established "facts" re iso, the truth is a little different. Has limitations to be sure, but so do other modes/strategies.
One of those classic examples of how physical culture is more art than science. A million folk with slide rules could tell you what you just did wouldn’t work but lo and behold. It clearly did. On Yourself big yin!!! (That’s high praise in Scotland. Yin kind of means “one”) looks like I’ll be doing a reconnaissance run to the local hardware store for some pricing.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
looks like I’ll be doing a reconnaissance run to the local hardware store for some pricing.
My entire rig (minus a sandbag for a bench on prone&supine holds) cost less than $100USD. I cannot emphasize enough how much more effective it has been for me compared to more expedient approaches like doorframes, towels etc.
At some point I'll make a low bench and not have to drag sandbag on and off between holds.
 

Kev

Level 6 Valued Member
My entire rig (minus a sandbag for a bench on prone&supine holds) cost less than $100USD. I cannot emphasize enough how much more effective it has been for me compared to more expedient approaches like doorframes, towels etc.
At some point I'll make a low bench and not have to drag sandbag on and off between holds.
I’ll definitely make a rig despite my frankly Homer Simpson esque DIY abilities.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I’ll definitely make a rig despite my frankly Homer Simpson esque DIY abilities.
Hacksaw, drill. You don't even need a vice. I did some experiment with 1/2inch braided rope using bowline handles and taughtline hitch for a friction lock, worked great.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Have you tried longer hold times, e.g. 1-2 minutes per hold? I use this for certain exercises, and you get a lot of TUT from it. But I don't have a good basis for comparison, as I use it alongside other metabolically intense training.
I haven't. I have no way of telling how much force development drops off over time, but I'm sure its quite a bit. I can hold a max contraction for 8-10 seconds or so, and the pulse efforts pump some blood through the muscle immediately after.

I know some folks use longer holds, I haven't used them enough to say.
 

ChiBill

Level 5 Valued Member
I'm inspired by this thread (and your general knowledge and experiment with iso). @North Coast Miller have you made any changes/enhancements to your iso board? Can you share what the final board design specs are? Awesome and very inspiring!
 

Kev

Level 6 Valued Member
All those Gymnasts with biceps like boulders and giant shoulders must be distressed to hear that Isometric contractions don’t build mass.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I'm inspired by this thread (and your general knowledge and experiment with iso). @North Coast Miller have you made any changes/enhancements to your iso board? Can you share what the final board design specs are? Awesome and very inspiring!


This is the current board, if I were to make another I’d leave out the handle cut-outs (find myself standing on them often) and maybe use a bigger board.

I often put a 100lb sandbag on it for more stability when I’m leaning into/away from the anchor points, or the board wants to flip over.

Have made some slight changes here and there to the mechanics and to hold times, currently am pyramid up hold times 10, 15, 20, 25seconds.

All of my holds now incorporate either a heavy lean, or exerting against the straps to create a bi-directional stress. Example OHP or bench, the strap anchor points are wider than my hand position, so attempt to push straight up results in hands wanting to drift outward. Resisting this adds additional stress/greater recruitment.

For an example of the lean, in squat I’ll lean back a la a front squat posture and drive up. This slowly pulls me back upright till the straps are more or less dead vertical. The lean is enough that without heavy tension I’d fall over. Doing DL like this I hold the pipe behind me a la Hack lift, allowing for an aggressive forward lean.

The lean creates sort of an eccentric overload, it pulls the joint open a little beyond ability to resist.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
How has the hamstring exercise worked out?

Pretty good. I pile 2 sandbags and brace my legs just above the knee in a prone posture, back of heels under the 2 inch dowel. An exertion involves trying to curl, along with an attempt to bring my butt to my heels. Can def feel it along the whole length.

I need to go back and make some short vid demonstrating these lean and spread mechanics, they make a small but important improvement to the results.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
For the curious, here is “progress pic” after 10 months of isometric only, three months out from my 55th. Am about 190lbs courtesy a lively bout with Covid a few months ago that pulled 10lbs off my bones. Have put back on about 5lbs in two months.

Keeping in mind this isnt a post workout pump pic etc, was not a training day and I don’t get a “pump” anymore from training anyway (unless testing vs sandbags). Not anything spectacular, but definitely can drive a stake in the idea one cannot support hypertrophy using only isometrics. In fact my legs are larger than they have been in many years, 31 to be precise.

My routine testing vs sandbag likewise demonstrates no defect in strength curve to leverage that is apparent. Am wondering what the hormonal response is to this type of training, the literature is might sparse on that point. The experiment continues…

 

Pantrolyx

Level 5 Valued Member
I would like to believe that isometric deadlifting has made me superstrong, but it may be every bit as plausible that this 6 mm screw/point of attachment was just not all that capable of normal lifting impact over time. :confused:

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