Strength training suffers from a lack of creativity and innovation. That’s why people toil away in gyms doing saturation workouts of multiple sets and reps of dozens of exercises that are identical to routines used in 1965. Yes, the routines in 1965 built muscle. And a carburetor worked on a 1965 VW. But fuel injection worked better. And electronic fuel injection works better than that. So where is the steady innovation in strength training?
I always think of this when I see yet another august university with a well-respected physiology and kinesiology program publish another study talking about test subjects lifting some percentage of their one-rep maximum weight. (The idea is a person can perform one full repetition with a weight so heavy that he can only do it one time, two reps with that weight is not possible and it therefore represents his maximum lifting capability.) Clinical studies are often performed with test subjects lifting as little as 30% of their one-rep maximum. Then conclusions are drawn, usually that lifting only 30% of capacity still has some beneficial effects. Fine.
Why does it not occur to these professors that when the range of motion is limited to only the strongest and safest range the same person can lift 50% to 150% more weight? A guy who can only bench press 100 lbs in his full range could bench 150 to 250 lbs using an isometric exercise in his safest range. Aren’t they curious as to how that would affect muscle fiber activation? Since fibers – and only fibers – contract to lift a weight, how could it involve more fibers to lift less weight? And how do those 30% of max exercises compare to using 200% of max using an isometric exercise? They never seem to test that.
Moreover, the concept of full range of motion for measuring strength is an artificial limitation. What I mean is that in nature we humans rarely use a full range of motion in a power movement. When you push a heavy car you don’t do it with your hands near your chest. When you climb a steep hill you don’t take maximum-length strides. Powerful movements are naturally performed in our strongest range. The only guys who need maximum weak range power at the guys competing in the artificial, man-made sports of powerlifting and Olympic lifting where judges insist on a specific range in order to win the contest. But why should the rest of us do that? What if power was measured by how fast you could make a puck sail into a hockey net? Pro hockey players would be said to have the most power and the rest of us would have much less. But who needs to shoot a fast puck? And who needs the maximum ability to lift a heavy bar off his chest?
It is possible (and always has been) to get very strong and develop very substantial muscle without doing the saturation workout routines from 1965. Static Contraction training was developed to be the most efficient way possible of maximizing strength and energy with the minimum wear and tear on the body and minimum risk of injury to tendons, ligaments and joints. That’s innovation.
Next time you’re in the gym try placing a barbell inside a power rack so you lift it an inch or two in your strongest range and see how it feels to lift 200% of your so-called maximum weight. Once you do that you will want to train the Static Contraction way.