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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
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.

I’ve been doing my DL holding the bar behind my calves and with a foreward lean, neat stuff.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
@North Coast Miller a question for you, if I may. I thought I'd put it here, but I'd be happy to make a new thread if you'd like.

Have you ever used dynamic tension, or researched/read into it? I have been seeing all the "social media hypertrophy PhD types" rambling on these days about "the amount of hard sets you do determines hypertrophy." If I am understanding them correctly, this means you have to be bringing a muscle close to (if not all the way) to failure at least once a week, maybe more. By my thinking, that should mean that you would also see good hypertrophy from isometrics (as you have, yes?). If that's the case, then why doesn't dynamic tension do it? Or does it, and I've not read the right sources....? I used to do quite a bit of DT back in my kung fu days, and it is definitely incredibly hard. So what's different about it tht it doesn't (seemingly) produce the same effects?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
@North Coast Miller a question for you, if I may. I thought I'd put it here, but I'd be happy to make a new thread if you'd like.

Have you ever used dynamic tension, or researched/read into it? I have been seeing all the "social media hypertrophy PhD types" rambling on these days about "the amount of hard sets you do determines hypertrophy." If I am understanding them correctly, this means you have to be bringing a muscle close to (if not all the way) to failure at least once a week, maybe more. By my thinking, that should mean that you would also see good hypertrophy from isometrics (as you have, yes?). If that's the case, then why doesn't dynamic tension do it? Or does it, and I've not read the right sources....? I used to do quite a bit of DT back in my kung fu days, and it is definitely incredibly hard. So what's different about it tht it doesn't (seemingly) produce the same effects?

I'd say it could be made to work in the case of rare individuals. My own experimenting demonstrated I am not one of those individuals.

There are two things lacking-
- external or variable resistance to calibrate tension being generated

- no tug on the muscle under load

These are both important to hypertrophy, esp the tug/forceful lengthening of a resisting muscle.

I have used self resistance isometrics for a small number of holds, and also employ a small amount of movement at the joint for all my holds. Eg isometric bench press the angle shifts from a flat to an incline. Most of these movement shifts force the effort against the strap such that the body needs a longer length of strap to finish the move. In effect this turns into a forcefull eccentric plus external source of resistance to calibrate the isometric effort.

I’ve also used a longer joint movement. Eg grab a loop of heavy rope and pull both sides to engage lats etc with hands in tight to the abdomin, move out 4” or so under full tension and pull back in. This works best if the effort is increased every exhale and held steady on the inhale.

IDK about the training to failure thing. High tension and metabolic stress/turnover. Failure becomes important at light to moderate load, not so much as you get to heavier stuff.
 
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bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
- no tug on the muscle under load

These are both important to hypertrophy, esp the tug/forceful lengthening of a resisting muscle.
Do you mean like an external force?

I was thinking about it and came to the conclusion that dynamic tension might be less effective compared to isometrics because you are limited by the strength/output of the antagonist muscles. Say you are doing dynamic tension for a bicep curl; just squeezing the bejeezus out of your arm while you flex at the elbow. The amount of tension on the elbow flexors would be limited by the amount of tension generated by the triceps resisting flexion. If you were doing the same bicep curl by pulling up on a strap, the triceps might be inhibited, allowing the bicep to contract harder.

Is that sort of what you meant?

I have used self resistance isometrics for a small number of holds, and also employ a small amount of movement at the joint for all my holds. Eg isometric bench press the angle shifts from a flat to an incline. Most of these movement shifts force the effort against the strap such that the body needs a longer length of strap to finish the move. In effect this turns into a forcefull eccentric plus external source of resistance to calibrate the isometric effort.

I’ve also used a longer joint movement. Eg grab a loop of heavy rope and pull both sides to engage lats etc with hands in tight to the abdomin, move out 4” or so under full tension and pull back in. This works best if the effort is increased every exhale and held steady on the inhale.
I'm having trouble understanding this for some reason. Are you saying that you are doing isos at different angles for the same muscle group/movement pattern...? Or are you sort of sliding your hands along the strap as you tense?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Do you mean like an external force?

I was thinking about it and came to the conclusion that dynamic tension might be less effective compared to isometrics because you are limited by the strength/output of the antagonist muscles. Say you are doing dynamic tension for a bicep curl; just squeezing the bejeezus out of your arm while you flex at the elbow. The amount of tension on the elbow flexors would be limited by the amount of tension generated by the triceps resisting flexion. If you were doing the same bicep curl by pulling up on a strap, the triceps might be inhibited, allowing the bicep to contract harder.

Is that sort of what you meant?

Exactly. I think there’s a little more to it than that, but is a pretty good explanation.

I'm having trouble understanding this for some reason. Are you saying that you are doing isos at different angles for the same muscle group/movement pattern...? Or are you sort of sliding your hands along the strap as you tense?

Using the bench example, I’m supine pushing the bar up, is anchored via strap both ends. If I position so my shoulders are just a bit higher than the anchor points, as I attempt to shift from the start point of flat bench to incline, the strap isn’t long enough. This forces the joint open a bit while using a max contraction. The muscle is lengthening slightly.

With the loop pull, holding canvas loop about naval height, pull MVC. Then push out with both hands a few inches, still MVC. This forces the pulling muscles to lengthen. This drill is as close as I get to dynamic tension, along with another very similar one done with hands held at head height. I only resort to this because the acting angles are better than what I can hit from a floor anchor. These are still a work in progress, normally I work from a floor anchor.

Eg shoulder press, stand as military press with single strap to each hand, anchor point behind my heels a good foot or so. Leaning forward pre loads the muscles. When timer goes off, MVC while pushing up and out. This causes the body to come more upright. Drive with the legs to force the muscles to lengthen.

All of my holds incorporate some form of “isoeccentric” lengthening of the muscle. It makes a huge difference both in terms of increasing force beyond what you can do against a 100% static resistance, and providing that loaded lengthening.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
Exactly. I think there’s a little more to it than that, but is a pretty good explanation.



Using the bench example, I’m supine pushing the bar up, is anchored via strap both ends. If I position so my shoulders are just a bit higher than the anchor points, as I attempt to shift from the start point of flat bench to incline, the strap isn’t long enough. This forces the joint open a bit while using a max contraction. The muscle is lengthening slightly.

With the loop pull, holding canvas loop about naval height, pull MVC. Then push out with both hands a few inches, still MVC. This forces the pulling muscles to lengthen. This drill is as close as I get to dynamic tension, along with another very similar one done with hands held at head height. I only resort to this because the acting angles are better than what I can hit from a floor anchor. These are still a work in progress, normally I work from a floor anchor.

Eg shoulder press, stand as military press with single strap to each hand, anchor point behind my heels a good foot or so. Leaning forward pre loads the muscles. When timer goes off, MVC while pushing up and out. This causes the body to come more upright. Drive with the legs to force the muscles to lengthen.

All of my holds incorporate some form of “isoeccentric” lengthening of the muscle. It makes a huge difference both in terms of increasing force beyond what you can do against a 100% static resistance, and providing that loaded lengthening.
Ahhh ok, that makes sense now. Thanks for the explanations!
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
have you ever experimented with this kind of isometric? It sort of combines a yielding and overcoming at the same time. What I am referring to is shown at about 4:20.

 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
have you ever experimented with this kind of isometric? It sort of combines a yielding and overcoming at the same time. What I am referring to is shown at about 4:20.



I have tried exactly that with and without a pushup board. My issue is the strap bites in quick and limits almost subconsciously the amount of force I could generate. Maybe with a sandbag on my back etc, but the board works so well it isn’t worth it to use anything different. A similar issue crops up when squatting with a strap instead of routing it under a board.

As a quick test when playing around with overcoming iso, always check to see if bodyweight, other limb activation, etc etc is limiting how much effort you can generate. If it doesn’t feel like “everything you got” AND using the muscles/movement pattern you’re trying to improve, scrap it.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
That was awesome, thank you for posting! You look strong as hell!

The way you were moving under the isometric contraction reminds me of Isokinator work. I've always wondered about it because I've never really seen anyone move under static load. Except for, you know, strong-a#@ gymnasts.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
That was awesome, thank you for posting! You look strong as hell!

The way you were moving under the isometric contraction reminds me of Isokinator work. I've always wondered about it because I've never really seen anyone move under static load. Except for, you know, strong-a#@ gymnasts.
That ‘s the direction I’m going with it, small movement perpendicular to the line of resistance under max tension. Have realized it takes a VERY small amount of muscle lengthening under load to trigger hypertrophy or even induce some DOMS - which is quite uncharacteristic of isometrics in general. Am gaining additional insight into some types of isotonics as a result.


Also, I'm amazed you have ripped through that plywood on some of those moves.

I try to get it to flex some whatever I’m doing. Amazing to think that a 250+ male might need a 1” board or to double up 3/4”. I do believe that small bit of board flex and whatever stretch the straps have are beneficial to the process. Really hoping to test vs barbell in the near future.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Very intriguing.

I think you are re-discovering some of the old knowledge of past strongmen into isometrics, like Alexander Zass or Otto Arco (here in his 50's);



I wouldn’t go that far by half!

But I do believe I have a heap of insight that I didn’t before and that, frankly speaking, not many can claim from first person experience.

I now view Isometrics in only two broad categories of:
- max contraction effort
- submax effort

Within the “max effort” are 3 more specific caregories of:
- static
- movement perpendicular to resistance (Eg shoulder press that moves from a military to a behind-the-neck)
- loaded stretch (Eg shoulder press done from a 1/4 squat, drive up w/ legs during max shoulder contraction, forcing the muscle to lengthen. Can be done with a jolt or slowly.

Obviously contraction and rest times etc all figure in as well. The old timey folks like Zass, Arco, Max Sick all knew way more than what I’ve uncovered. Arco muscle control is in an entirely different class.
 

Pasibrzuch

Level 6 Valued Member
Very intriguing.

I think you are re-discovering some of the old knowledge of past strongmen into isometrics, like Alexander Zass or Otto Arco (here in his 50's);

Intriguing indeed.

Alexander Zass seems to be another nick name because he's real one is Aleksander Nowosielski. The captions in this video are in Polish and they encourage "countrymen" to write letters to the strongmen if they want to achieve his physique. Interesting why he had two pseudonyms.

What's interesting as well is the physical prowess and total body control. One aspect is hardcore calisthenics, the other is the ability to come with poses that demand a lot of movement awareness (the thing with scapulae rolls is crazy). And he was a wrestler, of course.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
@bluejeff

I’ll have to comb through all that as time allows - is a lot of material!

One thing I’m seeing is hypertrophy and strength increases from using those sharp overload eccentrics. Basically full resistance to lengthening and make it lengthen anyway.

This is something I’ve thought about for a long time, and more recently when multiple studies demonstrated better results with faster eccentrics. “How does that make sense, you’re doing less work?” My theory is that the secret sauce is the breaking pulse at the bottom. In that instant you:

- arrest movement under higher tension than you used on the descent and possibly (almost certainly) than you used on the ascent as well, even if only for a fraction of the time.

- have the muscle at a longer length

These are far from the only way to trigger a response, but it IS a well proven stimulus.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Then altitude drops/ depth drops should in theory also elicit a hypertrophic effect.

They might if there is enough tension applied - you would need to resist the drop with a significant amount of force applied over a very small range of degree, instead of lowering into the amortization phase.

And then ideally you would do this at longer muscle length.
 
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