Static Contraction Principles
Static Contraction Principles

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 this isometric workout and told us it works. Some of their 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 isometric exercise (holding the weight) 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.

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  • victor

    I am totaly agree with your principles, I m reading all of your mails ,and i find the information verry interesting, and all you say sounds verry true. But i still have some things that i can’t explain to my self. May be you can make this clear to me. Sorry for my english i hope you undersand what i will ask. First i want to say i’m a bodybuilder, and i’m in this sport for 4 years. i hope i will start to compeate this year. In those 4 years of training i gained 22 pounds of muscle, it is something but not to much for this long period of time, right now i realize what I did wrong. I also have to say that for the last 2 years my metode of training was HIT and from that time my progres was visible. Intensity is the key for muscle growth. Here is my questi on for you : How much you can increase the intensity? You can increase the intensity to infinite? Because that you have to do if you want more progres. In my opinion SCT and also HIT or other methods with the same principles are incomplete, because they treat muscle growth just from the angle of hormonal release., they forgot to look under the skin, in the muscle cells. What happens in the muscle cells during the workout? the hipertrophy it’s a complex proces. Can you tell me what happens in the muscle cells during a SCT workout? The cells have trauma or not? For me this is verry important , i don’t know way i can’t find this discussion on your forum or in your mails. Please be nice and answer this questions for me, give me a mail or make a topic on your site. i’ll be thankful. I hope you will understand my poor english. Thank you very much!

  • Hi Victor! Your English is fine, thanks for using your second language. Here’s the truth. Nobody can tell you all the elements of what is happening in your muscles and the supporting systems, nor why it is happening. Medical science is not there yet. On top of that, how would you monitor your training to see the cellular effects of all the training variations? Tissue biopsies to see what workout had a greater effect on cells? Draw blood and measure blood chemistry to track hormone levels? It’s not a practical way to track progress.

    My viewpoint is that whatever is happening in the muscles and cells, they will receive more stimulation when you lift more weight per unit of time than when you lift less. That’s the way our universe works, it always takes more power and energy to do more intense work. How high can intensity go? Infinity? No, not infinity, that’s for sure. Obviously it varies with individuals. All any of us needs is a practical way t track our own level of intensity on each exercise. Once you have that (and with SCT you do have it) then you can progress as far as possible for you. But it won’t be to infinity, otherwise you could lift the world.