Are Static Contraction Training Principles Valid?

When a new idea comes around some people demand that idea prove itself with a very high degree of scientific validity.

I’m fine with that.

But it amazes me how the same people so often fiercely hold onto their old ideas that have almost zero scientific validity. It’s sort of like a guy who believes in Santa Claus demanding rigorous scientific evidence that the earth is round.

One of the hallmarks of a scientific hypothesis is that it is falsifiable. That is, contradicting evidence could disprove it. Another cornerstone of science is the ability to create reproducible results; if you claim something is true anybody else should be able to do the same thing and get a true result.

With those tenets in mind, let’s take a look at the fundamental principles upon which Static Contraction training rests. 

Weight Trumps Distance in Generating Intensity

Static Contraction uses a partial range of motion instead of a full range of motion. The trade-off is you can lift a heavier weight if you limit yourself to only the strongest range. Why is that good? Because the whole purpose of lifting weights is to generate an artificial load for your muscles. And the intensity of that load is important. The oft-used example is the marathon runner’s skinny thighs versus the sprinters thick, muscular thighs. The marathoner does a lot more work but the intensity is comparatively low.

Adding more weight will tax your muscles at a higher intensity than adding more distance.

Test it yourself: Set up a bench press in a power rack and do a full range rep with 100 pounds. Next, cut the distance in half and try it with 200 lbs. Then do a quarter rep with 400 lbs. Finally, try an eighth of a rep with 800 lbs. As far as Isaac Newton is concerned, these lifts are all represent an equivalent amount of work. But see if your muscles think the extra distance is just as hard as the extra weight. You’ll see which factor requires more muscle effort.

Some Exercises are More Intense Than Others

As discussed in this article there are many choices in the exercises you can use for any muscle group. As soon as you focus on generating maximum muscular intensity you realize many of these exercises are inferior. 

Test it yourself: Try each of the exercises in this article and see how many reps you can do in one minute and multiply that number by the weight you lifted. When you’re done you’ll have a number that represents the pounds per minute (or kilos per minute) you can lift, which is a mathematical definition of intensity. You’ll discover which exercises are the most intense and that there are differences. Why would anyone do the low intensity exercises for any given muscle?

Five Seconds is Enough Growth Stimulus

I don’t make any claims to know the biological ‘why’ behind this truth. I’m not going to quote the results of tissue biopsies and blood gas measurements and other esoteric data that can be debated ad nauseum. (Definitive biological proof is hard to come by. Medical science still doesn’t know what causes headache pain or muscle soreness. In fact, muscles have no pain receptors. Go figure.) Instead, I’ve always used empirical evidence; simply stated, try it and see if it works.

Many years ago we started experimenting with static holds of 30 seconds. It worked. Over the years we kept trading off between more weight in favor of less time. Right now we know that a 5-second maximum hold stimulates new muscle growth and increased strength. How do we know? Thousands of people have tried it and told us it works. Some of there comments are here.

Test it: Set up a power rack and perform a lift with a weight that is so heavy you can only hold it 5 seconds. (Not 6 or 7 seconds.) Come back to the gym next week and try it with more weight. You will be able to lift more. Repeat this procedure and you’ll continue to make progress. The 5-second hold is stimulating a change.

Muscle Recovery Time is Variable, Not Fixed

When you try to make progress on every exercise of every workout you discover this fact without fail. If it weren’t true you could go to the gym seven days a week and always lift a heavier weight than the previous day. And you could do it in perpetuity. This is why I wince every time I read some fitness “expert” telling people to lift weights three times a week. Do these guys test any of their premises?

Static Contraction works because one of its fundamental principles is to constantly monitor your progress and adjust your training frequency to ensure your numbers go up. If your numbers aren’t going up, why bother lifting? 

As you get stronger you lift some really impressive weights and it takes a long time to fully recover from that. I can leg press a small car but I can’t do it every week. Now that I’m in my 50’s I’m not sure I can even do it once a month.

Test it: If you must; visit the gym ten days in a row and see if you can set a personal record every day. You might as well look for Santa Claus.

In these human endeavors, science always wins. If you try to violate a law your efforts will be for naught. Static Contraction training is built on fundamental principles that can be tested and verified by anyone. The results are reproducible and have been reproduced by thousands of trainees.

Many training methods provide positive results but because SCT uses ultra-brief exercises and productive workouts spaced up to several weeks apart, it represents the most efficient method known to achieve goals of increased strength and muscularity and the many health benefits that go with those.

Time is money. If you don’t want to waste either one, try Static Contraction training. 

Train with your brain,


In the spirit of well-rounded self-improvement and spending fitness time wisely and efficiently, this Static Contraction article was brought to you by the Latin proverb:

Prudens quaestio dimidium scientiae
"To know what to ask is already to know half"

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