Bear with me for just a second while I say something mathematical: In exercise, intensity is inversely proportional to duration. Simply stated, the greater your effort, the less time you can sustain it.

That’s why a 100-meter sprinter can run faster than a marathoner. The trade-off is the sprinter can only run all out for ten seconds but the marathoner can keep running for two hours.

Now take a look at their legs. The sprinter has the thick, powerful leg muscles and the marathoner has much thinner legs. And the sprinter builds those massive muscles using a “dose” of exercise that is ten seconds or less. Isn’t that interesting?

So if you’re in the gym trying to develop thick, powerful arms or a thick, powerful chest why are you grinding away for hours? Why not try to discover the minimum dose of exercise that will deliver the highest possible intensity?

Experiments to Discover Maximum Intensity

After the success of Power Factor Training in 1993, we realized that limiting the range of motion in an exercise was an effective way to increase intensity. Basically, a subject could gain more muscle lifting 200 pounds a few inches than he could by lifting 100 pounds through his full range of motion.

Once we knew full range of motion was not very important in stimulating muscle growth, we created a study to see what would happen if bodybuilders used zero range of motion but with the heaviest weights they could possibly hold. We recruited some hardcore bodybuilders who had already developed impressive physiques…so it would be extra challenging to put new muscle on these subjects compared to average subjects. We put them on a routine averaging just 2.1 workouts per week where they statically held heavy weights (without any up and down movement) in their strongest range, but without being “locked out”.

After just 10 weeks of Static Contraction Training, these subjects:

  • Increased static strength 51.3%
  • Increased their full range 1-rep max 27.6%
  • Increased their full range 10-rep max 34.3%
  • Added 9.0 pounds of new muscle (one subject added 28.9 pounds!)
  • Lost 4.9 pounds of fat
  • Added ½ inch to their biceps
  • Added 1.1 inches to their chest

When was the last time you made gains like that in 10 weeks?

Since the above study, we have conducted more studies using various refinements that have proven the benefits of reduced hold times and a corresponding increase in intensity. For example, the above results were achieved using hold times of 15 to 30 seconds but now we know hold times of less than half that duration work much better. (See my Train Smart e-book)

This form of minimum dose, maximum intensity training has been widely hailed as revolutionary. Ironman Magazine said Static Contraction Training “could cause physiology books to be rewritten.” And world-renowned human performance coach Tony Robbins says it’s, “The cutting edge in bodybuilding [and] strength training that can show you – no matter what age you are – how you can produce the greatest result you ever thought possible in the shortest time.”

Try It Yourself

Try the three simple exercises on this page: You’ll be amazed at how strong you really are. Perform each of the exercises exactly as described. Do them the same day then repeat them a week later. After three sessions you’ll feel the astounding effects that this level of muscle stimulation triggers.

Push yourself to the limits of your capability. Most people using this method make the mistake of grossly underestimating the weight they can lift. When you repeat these exercises expect very significant increases in weight.

The Ultimate in Muscle Growth Stimulation

Static Contraction Training capitalizes on the undisputed fact that the intensity of muscular output is more important than the duration of output when it comes to stimulating new muscle growth. It provides the “minimum dose” of ultra high intensity exercise. It’s already working for thousands of people…try it yourself and see.


  • Tony

    Hey Pete,

    I think I know what you mean, but there’s so many connotations that come along with the word “lock out” during body movement….what do you mean by “locking out” when doing heavy lifts.


  • When you ‘lock out’ your muscles are not supporting the weight, your bones are. Think of a soldier who can stand at attention for hours and his legs don’t fatigue, but if he bends his knees slightly his muscles will tire in minutes. The purpose of lifting these weights is to fatigue the muscles so we don’t ‘lock out.’

  • David

    Hey Pete and Greg,
    Thank you for your excellent support and insight in the world of physical self-improvement. I had a question regarding the “dosage” of an exercise ever since I first read Train Smart and I figured that your answering it would lend to a better understanding and dialogue. This question is: Why do we hold the weight for specifically 5 seconds? Does it take 5 seconds to help ensure 100% fiber recruitment? Obviously this system works insanely well, but I am curious as to why 5 seconds for building strength. I have looked around and seen guys who advocate 1-2 second maximum sustained lifts. You bein’ a smart, logical guy, I know you’ve gotta you have a reason for your approach.

  • Thanks, David. We started out testing people about 15 years ago by doing 30-second static holds. Then we moved it down to 20, then 10. It was trial and err. Each time we measured to see if people had increases in strength and muscle mass and each time they did. We then recommended only 5 seconds. The great thing is that every time you decrease the time you are able to increase the weight. Often substantially. (There is a very big difference between what any person can hold for 30 seconds and 5 seconds.) After doing measurements with digital meters it was apparent that in less than 5 seconds a person would reach peak output then decline in power. So I’m sure a person would be successful with a static hold of less than 5 seconds. But – here is the tradeoff – if we told people they only need to lift the weight for 2 seconds there would be a strong tendency to jerk the weight explosively just to get the brief interval, perhaps never being in proper control of the weight. Not being in control massively increases the chance of injury and so does trying to explosively accelerate the weight because of the sudden force necessary. A properly engineered SCT machine could overcome these issues but until that is available 5-seconds is a prudent and effective.