Can Your Strength Training Improve?

Can your strength training be improved?

Can your strength training be improved?

Do you believe that your strength training can never be improved? Or do you have an open mind on the subject?

I ask this in sincerity because for many years I’ve noticed that I battle against something I call Cogniostasis. Don’t bother searching for that word in the dictionary – I made it up.

You might be familiar with the word homeostasis, which refers to the body’s ability to maintain biologic equilibrium or stability when conditions vary from normal. When it’s cold outside your body tries to stay warm, when it’s hot outside your body tries to cool off – all to maintain normal operating conditions. Well, I’ve noticed that people’s beliefs seem to operate in a similar way. Tell a person something that makes him uncomfortable or out of harmony with what he ‘believes’ and he’ll tend to push back against it so he can keep believing what he’s used to believing – staying within his own normal-thinking conditions. Cogniostasis.

And I’m not talking about ‘skepticism’ here. Skepticism is actually a very rigorous philosophical and scientific discipline that involves careful, objective scrutiny and the use of the scientific method. Ironically, skeptics are often the most open to new ideas because they are practiced at careful evaluation instead of simple dismissiveness.

OK, Getting Back to Your Strength Training Workouts

I assume if you are reading this you are a person who has in the past or is currently performing strength training to improve your health. But do you believe the method you use can never be improved? Of course, ‘improve’ could be a subjective measure. For a person who loves strength training in the gym a “better” workout might be one that lasts twice as long or one that he can complete twice a day instead of only once per day. For him, more is better than less.

I’ll be clear about what Static Contraction strength training is designed for. It’s not for the guy who wants to exercise as often or as much as possible. It’s for the person who wants the maximum health benefit he can get with the least time and effort on his part. It’s for the woman who wants efficiency in the gym because she’s busy elsewhere. So if you are a person who wants maximum strength training benefits for minimum time and energy invested it seems to me there would be four major ways your workout could be improved.

1. Could Your Strength Training Workouts Be Shorter?

Most conventional workouts use two to five sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for each target muscle group. Some use two or three different exercises for each muscle group. That usually adds up to 100 to 300 total reps per workout. Static Contraction training uses two different workouts alternately. Each single workout uses only five exercises and each exercise takes five seconds. Does your current strength training method involve less than 25 seconds of muscle exertion – or could it be improved?

2. Could Your Strength Training Workouts Be Less Often?

Virtually every conventional strength training routine says to exercise three days a week in perpetuity. When you use SCT you have a goal number for each of your ten exercises and the goal is never the same twice. If you can’t at least lift more than your last workout it instantly tells you that you have not fully recovered and need more rest between workouts. As your training progresses your workouts always get farther apart. After two or three months of SCT training you’ll only need to workout once or twice a month. Does your current strength training method involve only two measurably productive workouts per month – or could it be improved?

3. Could Your Strength Training Workouts Utilize Heavier Weights?

Handling heavy weights stimulates muscle growth, positive hormone changes, increased bone density and other metabolic benefits. Because SCT uses exercises in only your strongest and safest range of motion you can immediately – on Day One – handle 50% to 100% more weight than you usually do. That represents a lot of additional muscle fiber activation and that’s why we lift weights in the first place – to create an artificial load for our muscle fibers. Will your current strength training method allow you to add 50-100% more weight to all the exercises in your next workout – or could it be improved?

4. Could Your Strength Training Workouts Be Safer?

Lifting weights can be dangerous. Even if you don’t drop a weight and cause an impact injury you can damage muscles, tendons and ligaments by hyper-extending (over stretching) while under load. All it takes is one strength training injury that prevents you from doing any exercising and all of your fitness goals are in the trash. Static Contraction training uses exercises limited to only your strongest and safest range of motion, often moving a barbell only one inch while it is in a rack and prevented from descending onto you. Does your current training method greatly limit your chances of an injury – or could it be improved?

Don’t Let Cogniostasis Rob You

As uncomfortable as it may be to think about, the chances are very high that your current conventional strength training method is very inefficient, time-consuming, haphazard and risky compared to Static Contraction. Don’t go back to the gym with the false belief that your strength training can’t be improved. Try Train Smart at my risk for 60 days and see for yourself how much better your performance can be.


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18 Responses to Can Your Strength Training Improve?

  1. Yes – a nice synopsis of what I love about SCT: truly astounding, continuously progressing results in strength with minimal time, maximum safety, with the rush of moving scary-big weights.

  2. Steve at #

    I don’t usually write on blogs, but I find myself writing on yours more frequently all the time. Again, I am a veteran lifter (48 years) and trainer (33 years) as well as a user of Static Contraction for 7 years and an owner of the original static machines. I have noticed several things over the years.
    1. I jumped into extreme poundages too quickly. Even though I have worked my calves tirelessly for years (they are a weak body part) and with heavy weights, my tendons and ligaments were not ready for the 1600 pounds of pressure that I was able to push on the static leg machine. I gave myself a bad case of plantar faciaitis that took over a year and a half to heal. I really should have eased into full out calf pushes.
    2. Using your guidelines, I worked up to a three week rest period between workouts, but I didn’t really like it. After a 3 week layoff, when my weights didn’t improve, it was hard to decide if I really hadn’t laid off long enough, or if I was just fatigued from a bad night’s sleep or fighting off a cold or whatever. Knowing that it woud be another 6 weeks before I completed the same exercises again was extremely unsettling for me.
    Again, I have experimented with SC for 7 years, and even though I realize “every day is kidney day” I still played around with different splits working out more often. I have evolved into a 3 day a week program, but I only do one body part each workout, alternating between an upper body and a lower body with abs and core thrown in as well.
    I now have 8 different workouts, which last between 12 and 28 minutes (because of warm ups and heavy loading of the bar). I am still making gains this way and sometimes dramatic gains. Today was my shoulder press day (after 21 days since my last shoulder workout) and I was able to increase my Power Factor reps from 14 in three sets with 275 pounds to 40 in three sets with 275 while decreasing my total time by three seconds. Needless to say, the rest of my day was great! Friday will be quads day, which is tough without a leg press machine. One more reason why I can’t wait to see what your next leg machine looks like.
    I’ll save some of my other thoughts for another blog.

  3. Rebecca at #

    Pete/Greg – I have been following your blog for several months and have read all the “free” info. I’m a 46 year old woman who trains once a week with a personal trainer – but am not really getting resutls for whatever reason. I believe whole heartedly in strength training for woman, so I’m very interested in your program. Before I pull the trigger, my questions are a follows: Are these workouts that have to be done at the gym on certain machines or can they be modified to do at home? And do you have to have a partner to do them or can they be done alone? I have talked to my trainer about this method, but she doesn’t seem to be too on board. Says it’s another “method” that’s all. Anyway, I don’t want to buy something and then end up not being able to utilize it at all. My 25 yr old step son is interested so I’m going to share with him – If it requires a partner – perhaps he could be mine.

  4. Hi Rebecca! Many people do the Train Smart workout at home. You don’t need a partner because you do most of the exercises inside a power rack or with a smith machine so your range of motion is restricted at all times. And it’s restricted to your strongest and safest range of motion. Once you train like that you’ll wonder why you ever risked an injury doing it the other way.
    You can see some of the exercises on this page:

  5. Monico at #

    Rebecca, it is great to see you are into weight training. I’m still tring to talk my wife into it. Let me clear something up here. Pete has not come up with just another method. He has completly changed the way we think about weight training. It is no wonder that your trainer will be against anything that threatens their methods. SCT is definitely worth a try! You have to admit it’s a lot cheaper than your trainer. I started SCT just over a year ago after doing conventional weight training for about three years with no results. The results with SCT have been mind boggling to say the least. One thing I can say is that I will NEVER lift weight conventionally again! I am very grateful that Pete had the foresight to find an easier more efficient way to increase strength and then share it with the rest of us.

  6. Tom Strong at #

    Hi Rebecca,

    Pete said that you can train at home; and you can. But you would need to have the equipment to do it, smith machine or power rack plus a couple of other pieces. I had checked out equipment prices on and decieded that membership at the gym is much more economical that purchasing the equipment needed. If you follow the instructions in Train Smart you wouldn’t need a personal trainer; if you have any questions just ask on this blog!

  7. Bob at #

    Good article,people really need to ponder on these issues.As I stated in a previous article about my training slowing down,and that my SCT has been longer than 6 months.
    I tried your advice on going longer between workouts,even 15 pounds extra on the bar put me in my place.I have come to the conclusion that as of now my frequency is 2 x a month.Thanks for all your advise and help.

  8. tony at #

    Been doing SCT for a few years now my main problem is the shoulder press I struggle to make progress on this and back when I used to do full range reps it was also a problem and caused me a few injurys.
    Is there an alternative to the shoulder press perhaps involving a pulling rather than pushing motion other than the shrug?
    Also today have just done a 1700 lbs [yes you read it correctly] leg press, when I do this it creates tremendous pressure on my lower back which is pushing against the back of the seat,whilst this is unavoidable my question is……is it safe?
    Thanks Tony

  9. Bob at #

    I was wondering about the clients you train,2 x a month or less,what are the average poundage gains added to the bar in the bigger lifts like the pulldown and bench press.I know every one is different,but what would the average be?Is it normally low,like around 5 lbs,or more like 10 lbs or more?Thanks for your time pete and getting back to my questions.

  10. Hi Bob! We don’t keep hard statistics on that. Early in training it would be about 5-10 lbs per workout on the lighter lifts and 20-30 on the heavier ones but that gain slows down over time. The thing is, even if we had hard statistical data from hundreds of controlled workouts it still comes down to what you can do on each of your lifts the day you train – the stats can’t help you get a big weight off the pins. And the 110 lb woman reading the stats will have a different experience than the 270 lb football player will anyway.

  11. Duncan at #

    I am just wondering if anyone else has had the same or similar experience to me when doing bench press.
    Using SCT I have gone from NOT being able to get 70kgs off the pins (obviously coming back to the gym too quickly after a previous workout) to lifting 135kgs a couple of days ago. As Pete continuously and correctly notes: the numbers don’t lie.
    So, to my problem. Just over 12 years ago I overdid a heavy upright row and suffered a medical condition called brachial plexitis. The end result is that I could no longer do anything remotely heavy on the bench…until SCT!!
    When I lifted the 135kgs I experienced a twitch in my left trapezius and now I’m concerned about that happening again. I’m just wondering if I have somehow placed myself incorrectly on the smith machine so that my angle of lift is actually impacting my shoulders rather than chest. Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated.

  12. Stuart at #

    Hey Pete, I failed on 515 in the bench then I gave it two weeks but felt even weaker. I am stumped. Should I just give it more time? Before I was working out twice a week and making gains…could I need that much rest already?

  13. Unless you are sick or not eating much the reason is recovery. (And if you’re sick none of your exercises will improve, not just chest.) Take a month off. There is no risk of losing muscle. I just got an e-mail from a guy who now trains his legs twice a year.

  14. Stuart at #

    Gotcha. Should I drop the bench for a month and continue my other exercises or stay out of the gym for a month? Thanks.

  15. I’d stay out of the gym altogether. But I don’t like exercising so that’s always my preference. Muscles grow like hair grows – it’s very hard to speed it up.

  16. Stuart at #

    I’m with you, thanks again! I am going to use this vacation from the iron to catch up on reading. Calculating God is next on my list!

  17. Let me know that formula when you figure it out.

  18. Stuart at #

    Ha ha, I wish. It’s an interesting work of fiction though!