Truth: The size and shape of your muscles depends on your genes.
Truth: The size and shape of your muscles depends on your genes.

We’ve had a few comments come in this week from people struggling with their lack of progress and dissatisfaction with their size gains as compared to their strength gains.

I’ve written about this before and showed the geometric relationship between the area of a muscle and its cross-sectional size. This is a law which can’t be overcome – you will always see a disproportionate difference between strength and size because to double its power a muscle does not have to double it diameter or circumference. And those are what you measure with the tape.

But there is another issue here and it’s nicely illustrated by the accompanying photo: all people are different. The guy on the left with the big gun did not have the same parents as the guy on the right. But look at both arms; they are both well-developed and defined. Both of these models are doing productive strength training.

And here’s the truth that nobody wants to tell you in the fitness business: no matter what training, diet, supplement or strategy the guy on the right employs he will never have arms like the guy on the left. Never.

Where’s The Money In That?

The reason you never hear this is because there is big money – billions annually – in telling people they can transform their bodies into anything they want – as long as they buy “X” product. In fairness, only 98% of that is BS. Two percent is true, up to a point.

So when a guy asks me if changing his diet or routine will allow him to put on substantial size instead of just more strength I always have to wonder if his expectations are perfectly reasonable and that it might be helpful to tell him to eat more calories and stay well hydrated or whether he has the expectation of turning his 40-year-old 12″ ectomorphic arm into a 22″ python by eating egg whites and twisting his wrist at the top of a curl. One is reasonable and the other is not. But, to be sure, fitness marketers are lined up to sell the Python Program to whomever they can hustle.

This is one of two themes I intend to elucidate as often as possible on this blog (the other is maximum weak range power) because it represents what magicians call ‘misdirection’ in that it gets people to focus on something irrelevant and unimportant. The real benefits of productive, progressive strength training are so profound and so broad in their effects that they seem almost too hard to believe. Once again these benefits are:

•    Lower blood pressure
•    More lean (muscle) mass
•    Higher fat burning 24/7
•    Increased natural HGH and testosterone
•    Increased libido
•    Increased HDL ‘good’ cholesterol
•    Improved cardiac function
•    Lower bodyfat
•    Greater bone density
•    Stronger tendons and ligaments
•    Increased energy
•    Improved, toned appearance
•    Increased sense of well-being

Again, these are not exclusive to Static Contraction or Power Factor training. Any productive and progressive weight training method can deliver these. What makes SCT and PF unique if that they are the most efficient ways to strength train.

The above list of health and lifestyle benefits is the real reason to engage in a program of productive, sustainable strength training. I urge you not to get pulled into the quagmire of believing unrealistic goals are possible if you just buy one more miracle product with ‘secrets’ that will make you look like Hugh Jackman without having Hugh’s parents. The great news is the above list of benefits represents a treasure trove far beyond cosmetic looks.

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369 Comments. Leave new

  • Sam

    Could you possibly post some sources to back up some of the claims? I don’t know if it’s “impossible” for the guy on the right to get bigger arms…

    I don’t know how vastly simple genes can affect the way your muscles work. It seems like outdated science in a post-Darwinian world, or maybe an admission that a certain workout program won’t yield effective results.


  • Brian T

    He can gain good arms though, surely! That dude must have only started sct. My shoulder girdle gained inches in weeks. I don’t know how you couldn’t gain a lot over time lifting massive weights, no matter what your starting point. Over time I think even a true ectomorph can get a kick ass muscular physique, as much as they would want or need. But the training does have to be right, I gained little with normal routines before sct.

  • Sam, did I say the smaller guy couldn’t build bigger arms? Of course I didn’t. We lift weights so we can add muscle to our body. It works for everyone. A productive, sustainable program will add size to anyone. My point was people have very, very unrealistic expectations of how much change they can cause. A small framed middle-aged ectomorph will never transform himself into a behemoth. (Not to be confused with the guy who was a skinny kid at 12 and ended up being 6’4″ and 280.)

  • See the comment I left for Sam.

  • Jason


    No where in the article does he say that it is impossible for the guy on the right to get bigger arms. Of course, anyone can add size and strength. What he said is that it is impossible for the guy on the right to workout and end up with the arm on the left. You just don’t/can’t add that kind of muscle to a frame that is not designed to handle it. (Ok, maybe if the person on the right when on some form of illegal performance enhancer…but even then, I highly doubt it.)

  • Lamarr

    Hello Pete

    While I am learning the effectiveness of SCT I also know that a multitude of people have persued careers as fitness professionals with no intention of deceiving people about training in ways that may be “wrong”. With the rise of SCT, how do these trainers proceed with their careers? There will always be those that feel the need to train for hours but for the honest trainers, how do they continue if all a person needs is minutes per workout?

  • You’re absolutely right. Most people earnestly repeat what they learned and do it to be helpful. The problem occurs when what they learned was a fallacy. There are many SCT trainees who would love to have a trainer work with them who was knowledgeably in SCT. I get e-mails almost every week from people looking. There is a day coming when it will happen but we are holding off on a certification program until it can be done in conjunction with an SCT machine – that’s when SCT will go global very quickly.

  • Can you imagine what us trainers could actually make if we could train 3-5 or more clients in one hour? That would be phenominal. The “one person” or perhaps a “small group” per hour is why we get burned out. Doctors treat many patients per hour. We can really never make more $$ for that hour. We have to work more hours. Period! But with SCT training style workouts, we could. Now convincing the general public that their workout is only going to be say less than 10 minutes, that could be a challenge. But I love the idea of it.

  • Tom Strong

    I am one of those guys who has gained a lot of strength without gaining much in the way of inches; up till now. I think that several things account for that; 1) I have lost some fat; 2) Muscles has filled in areas such as the flat area of the arms and inner and upper part of the pecs.

    I don’t expect to be a man mountain, nor do I want to be. For me it is more about what I can do with my body; but I am still expecting to add some inches to my biceps and chest – and I will.

  • Dave

    NCSF certified trainer with a MS in Kinesiology. I have used SCT training off and on over the last 20 yrs with mixed results. I could never seem to get the rest periods right. I have your train smart book and have tried differt approaches. I would love to get better results from SCT and gain the muscle mass from SCT as I have doing my usual workouts. Any thoughts

  • Steve

    First, let me say that I totally agree with what you are saying about the two arms; there is nothing the guy on the right can do to get arms like the guy on the left. I hate it when I see fitness marketers promoting, “Blow past your genetic potential by buying my specialized training.” Just won’t happen.
    I started training statically in 1994 when I purchased your equipment and made some pretty impressive gains in static strength. I couldn’t really test my full range strength because of shoulder injuries caused by 32 years of weight training and boxing. I have to say that I really enjoy actually lifting a very heavy weight a few inches for several repetitions more than pushing against an immovable object and looking at a scale to see how much I lifted. Lifting actual weight is great for the upper body, but impossible for the legs in my home gym without a big leg press.
    After 48 years of training with weights in body building style as well as power lifting, I have to disagree a bit with your statement that a stronger muscle is a larger muscle. While that is true, it is a bit misleading. Body building workouts will create larger muscles than strength training workouts, which will provide stronger muscles. All you have to do is compare muscle size and strength of a body builder to a dieted down power lifter to see the different results.
    At 58, I do a combination of static training (actually it is your new hybrid training)with some higher volume training for increased size and I am satisfied with my results. I also love the extra stress that static trainig puts on my bones.
    I can’t wait to see your next version of a static machine.
    Keep up the good work.

  • ilona

    after years of exercising with weights as well as push ups and sit ups I am having some real improvements. Have increased the weights so am lifting more. My arm measurements have always been a bit much for female……I chopped wood when in my teens and probably the Russian background are probably the reasons but now there is real muscle…..oh the joy !…….pity I had not been pushed into weight training decades ago just thanks to my son for persisting…….

  • Anth

    you said… “the geometric relationship between the area of a muscle and its cross-sectional size. This is a law which can’t be overcome – you will always see a disproportionate difference between strength and size because to double its power a muscle does not have to double it diameter or circumference.”

    LOL what are you talking about. who said this was a law. Law means impossible to change. And from our knowledge in the past YES it may be called that. But theres research showing hyperplasia. Meaning it isnt a law after all people can grow bigger than their so called “genetic potential” A law is soething that happens to someone 100% of the time. and thats just not true like the law of gravity.

  • Lamarr

    Thank you for responding to my previous question. With respect I feel that the question was not answered completely. I do however understand thast with the number of comments that you have to reply to that there isn’t enough time to be direct. I would like to ask, as I am a student of fitness, what do you suggest for cardiopulmonary fitness? Alsodo you have an address or website where I can ask detailed questions to your or colleagues?

  • Lamarr, I don’t study or sell a program for cardio fitness. You’re asking a person who’s expertise is in building muscle what you should do for a cardio program. That’s why you didn’t get the anser you wanted.

  • It is like gravity and it does apply to 100% of people. It’s a law of geometry that has been known for over 2,000 years. I think you need to re-read what I said again.

  • In a bicycle race the big guy won’t stand a chance.

  • Lamarr

    Forgive me for sounding confrontational. That is not my intention. The answer I was refering to was the one about Fitness professionals in my first reply. I was just asking as a follow up about cardio. Again I am sorry if I came off as confrontational. That was asked more out of respect of your ideas. Was just wondering if you had suggestions. Again I want to thank you for your response.

  • Thanks, Dave. SCT has not been available for 20 years. You ask if I have any thoughts. Only that you follow whats in the e-book to the letter. (That’s where all my thoughts on the subject are. Ha!) With SCT you train by the numbers. One sub-par workout is a yellow flag, two is a red flag. There is no resn tho have several bad workouts in a row. When you measure you get meaningful, actionable feedback from every exercise.

  • Exactly. It’s better business model. It’s day is coming.

  • Terrill Wyche

    The genetic component is true when it comes to athletic performance gains. Some people have the number and types of fast-twitch muscle fibers that will allow them to make huge vertical jump gains while others do not, for example.

  • James

    Why does exercise, let’s say 60 mins of jump rope a day negate any size gains?
    The evidence is it actually seems to make one smaller? And what to do about it?

    PS I’d be keen to be among one of your first ST-qualified strength coaches,

  • Chris Leggette

    Hi Pete:

    Yes, working out, making progress with each workout and muscle gains are entirely about genetics, common sense, amd attitude; I have learned more about my body by studying each exercise — moving slowly through a warm-up, observing how the muscle moves, sensing how prepared I am, than from manuals, ads, DVDs, even trainers; SCT is an exemplary program simply because it capitalizes on efficiency and self study; I love that; what I would like to explore, however, and I would appreciate your expertise weighing on this as well, is how improve definition on the program without depleting whatever is necessary for full recovery.

    What do you think? Best to you and much thanks (and thanks as well for Power Factor — which I still incorporate into a workout), Chris L.

  • Donnie Hunt

    While I like big muscles, I would encourage everyone to just focus on getting stronger and stronger and let your body decide how big you “need” to be.

  • let’s put it more simply:
    in order to double the strength the muscle does not double it’s size.
    Otherwise the beginner with 13 inch arms that struggles with 60 lbs curl that eventually can curl 120 lbs would have 26 inch arms.
    Not gonna’ happen.
    So yes, muscle size and strength can change and perhaps go beyond genetic potential and he may eventually double the size of his arms, but it’s NOT simply because he can curl twice as much.
    I believe that is “the law” Pete is referring to.

  • Having worked as a strength coach for more than 20 years now, I have tried just about every approach there is to gaining strength and size.

    A fundamental that should exist to allow for both maximum efficiency, and program efficacy, is that one should prescribe the least amount of activity possible initially, and then increase the exercise demands gradually until it is discovered how little is necessary to achieve the best benefit relative to the goals desired.

    This being said, there does appear to be a minimum volume and or mechanical stimulus required, to trigger an optimum hypertrophy response. The SCT protocol is indeed extremely efficient at triggering strength gains in a broad array of individuals. However current research, as well as my own experience, has shown that while strength may indeed continue to climb using the SCT concept, the lower volume and frequency may not be optimum to trigger the maximum hypertrophy available.

    Check this link for some interesting reading:

  • Dr. F. Lee

    This discussion reminds me of the “Subway Guy,” spokesman for Subway Sandwiches. He started off in life as an ectomorph; gained several hundred pounds into a mesomorph and reduced his frame into an endomorph.

    What was his potential at any given time, despite his genetic structure? Could there be a correlation of fat weight gain and muscle mass development? A friend of mine of Asian descent with a 135 lbs ectomorph body frame decided he as going to get “big.” He gained an enormous amount of weight (100 lbs) and then started strength training. After several years (it did take some time and without the help of steroids), he did achieve a muscular looking frame and 20 inch arms. I don’t know what his body composition is in terms of fat and lean muscle mass % but what I do know is he looks ‘big’ and bench presses over 350 lbs (full range of motion). He doesn’t totally look muscular because of his chubby face cheeks but he did manage to gain size and strength.

    Though for most, this is unrealistic however, not impossible. How can one say that my friend who was the person on the right could NEVER achieve the looks of the person on the left?

  • Dr. F. Lee

    The theory of SCT has been around for hundreds of years; perhaps the methods are different but the fundamentals are the same as what Shaolin Munks have utilized. Western society took the basic fundamentals of this and labeled it with a 21st century term called Isometrics. Furthermore, someone added weights to this and calls it SCT. Monks utilized this concept with buckets of sand or water (they didn’t bother the manufacture iron plates) and conducted their own static contraction holds.

  • Al

    Is there any way in the world to rebuild a flat sagging butt. I am in pretty good shape otherwise for a small man in his 60s. I use SCT on the things that I can figure out how to do in my gym and limited or full range on others. I have tried about every glute exercise there is. I leg press 1400 pounds. But no matter what I do I cannot improve on my sadly sagging butt.

  • Brian T

    I don’t know man, give it years and see how far you get. Very rarely someone is born with the muscle the guy on the left has.

    I’ve seen plenty of stunning transformations from guy left to guy right (roughly speaking as there are different builds).

    For example: There is a guy on line called Richard Knight and his before and after pics are stunning.

    Like total weed as an adult to Mr. Universe. He put on 27 pounds of muscle and that all adds up all over. And he was doing it the regular way, no sct nor had he invented hyperplasia workouts or anything.

    Then there is another guy called Vince Del Monte, MASSIVE change there too, done pretty conventionally (though he now has recently added diet ideas on mass building that are quite revolutionary and he’s gotten even bigger).

    And there is a lot of speculation that hyperplasia might be possible with specialist training that is not fully understood yet and plenty of rest.

    I do understand what you are saying about unrealistic expectations about becoming a hulk monster though. That’s usually only possible with steroids or getting fat as well. You name any of the famous HUGE guys and they were all on steroids, Arnie, Lou and so on.

  • Right. Isometrics is perhaps a thousand or more years old. I like the sand in buckets because you could add sand – progressive overload. In the 20th century it was popular briefly when Bob Hoffman of York Barbell company promoted certain devices similar to a power rack to press against but it lost favor when the subjects were suspected of taking steroids. What Static Contraction did was ensure objective measurement (instead of just pressing hard against a wall or whatever) and that subjects understood rest is just as important in the whole process. With SCT you always measure and your training frequency is always changing.

  • I agree ‘never’ is a strong word. It might only me 99.8% of the time. I don’t know if “Subway Guy” ever had the arm on the right but I’ll bet he doesn’t have the one on the left. Also note, the thrust of the article was to not focus on size and instead train for health benefits. Alas, almost nobody who made comments came away with that message. Haha. Story of my life.

  • Thanks, Rich. Actually, the law I was referring to is a geometric law. And even when a muscle doubles in size the bone, blood and other things inside the arm do not double.

  • Thanks, Donnie. That’s similar to the point I was trying to make.

  • Thanks, James. I don’t follow your question. Did I imply that jumping rope negates size gains?

  • OK, thanks for that. It sounded like you were saying I was dodging a question. I try not to give advice on things I haven’t studied and can back up with some numbers. I haven’t done any work with cardio but if/when I do you know it will be all about measurement. Some people on this blog have mentioned using Al Sear’s PACE method with success. I think the future of cardio will be brief, high-intensity efforts but I have not studied this. It sounds like Dr. Sear’s is on the same page with his method.

  • Thanks, Steve. I’m glad you’ve found a combination of training that works for you and that you can stick with. I’m not sure we agree on the stronger/bigger muscle thing.

  • James

    Thanks Pete,
    Not at all. I was just wondering why, as a result of doing fitness (such as jump rope and jogging in my case) it seems to make me smaller?,
    And what to do about it, should I only do fitness 3 times a week, should I be eating more protein? etc.
    Thanks for your rational approach to strength training,

  • a law is nothing more than a theory and is so untill other wise proven false. and pete has over and over again proven most of them false.

  • Al, let’s first look at what causes a flat sagging butt. It’s flat because there isn’t enough muscle there. The sagging is caused by fat on top. The only way to “reshape” that area is to continue on with leg exercises. The gluteus muscles are some of the strongest in the body and can push a lot of weight. You need to stick with the leg press exercises and maybe do a bit of cardio to help trim some fat. Here is the issue though…..with most people that I know, the butt is one of the last places that wants to lose fat. I would say along with the butt, the abs are also a very stubborn place for fat loss. That’s why most people love a nice hard butt and 6 pack abs because if you are lean and muscular in those areas, you’re probably lean and muscular everywhere else. It takes work my friend to get rid of the sag. But it is possible.

  • Actually, I would beg to differ. By the time something because a law, its been proven pretty thoroughly. Think: Law of Gravity, Laws of Thermodynamics, etc. Most things in physiology are principles or theories, and theories are based on proven science but that doesn’t mean they are without flaw or unrefutable. Many ideas going around about weight training are based on theories.

  • James, have you measured your body fat? Its very important to know how much muscle and fat your body has. The reason I say this is that while I was getting smaller, I actually put on muscle. But since muscle is more dense than fat, you can gain muscle, lose fat and get smaller. I now wear a size small but I measure my body fat weekly and I haven’t lost any muscle whatsoever. So let me know what you mean by getting smaller. Taking periodic bodyfat measurements along with standing on a scale will tell you if you’re losing muscle and fat or just fat.

  • Not to put too sharp a point on this topic, but it is a pet peeve of mine, what most people call a ‘theory’ is really just a hypothesis. In science, after an hypothesis has been repeatedly corroborated with supporting evidence and experiment it can be called a theory. Next time you hear a politician, newscaster or Joe Blow say he “has a theory” listen for whether it’s really an hypothesis that has yet to be corroborated. Actual theories are damned hard to come by.

  • For the record (if it is not clear) I am a fan of both SCT and PFT style workouts. However, there are those individuals for whom getting BIG, is the “prime directive”. For them a slighyl varied approach may be better.

    Not sure if anyone bothered to read the article I linked to above. Here are some pertinent points regarding Hypertrophy:

    Although concentric and isometric contractions have been shown to produce a hypertrophic response, a majority of studies seem to show that eccentric actions have the greatest effect on muscle development. Specifically, lengthening exercise is associated with a more rapid rise in protein synthesis and greater increases in IGF-1 mRNA expression compared to shortening exercise. Moreover, isotonic and isokinetic training that does not include eccentric contractions result in less hypertrophy than those that include lengthening contractions.

    There is also evidence that eccentric contractions result in additional recruitment of previously inactive MUs.

    Eccentric exercise also is associated with greater muscle damage when compared to concentric and isometric contractions. This manifests as Z-line streaming, which current research suggests is indicative of myofibrillar remodeling. It has been shown that MyoD mRNA expression is specifically upregulated by eccentric contractions.


  • Thanks, Taku. Regarding, “a majority of studies seem to show that eccentric actions have the greatest effect on muscle development…” The problem I have with all of these studies is they never compare the isometric static holds using 150-250% more weight in the strongest range of motion. They usually do these “comparisons” with 30-50% of 1RM, which is a joke in SCT terms.

  • Chris, muscle definition is a combination of bigger muscles and lower bodyfat. Sounds like you’re making good muscle progress. Ask Greg Karr about fat loss, he has a wealth of info on that.

  • Lee

    I read it when you posted it TAKU but I hadn’t a clue what most of it meant. Thanks for explaining 🙂

  • Lee

    I just found this statement in an article written on by a person called Shannon Pittman:

    “Regardless of popular opinion it is the CNS that stimulates muscle growth and not the stress imposed upon the muscles themselves. This is one of the reasons that Static Contraction Training can have a profound effect on muscle growth. Merely supporting very large weights can cause the CNS stimulation necessary to cause muscle growth.

    The CNS can determine whether the weight being handled is too heavy for you to handle. 300 pounds feels heavier than 200 whether you complete a rep or not. It’s the CNS that tells you that the heavier load is too much and it responds by manipulating hormones responsible for causing increased protein synthesis in the involved muscles.

    The heavier the weight, the greater the muscle tension created and, hence, more muscle growth stimulated. This is why Static Contraction Training can cause extreme rates of muscle growth in those who utilize it.”

  • Matt

    Hi Pete,
    I have been following your methods and advice for a while, and I really look up to your methods – they’re great and your scientific approach is spot on. Can you please answer a question for me, if I want a good full chest then is flat bench press enough? Or do I have to do the incline and decline bench too?
    I suspect that the whole of the muscle gets a workout on the flat bench, but then you hear others talking about targetting a part of the muscle, I just wanna know the truth! lol

  • John D


    I’m also in the same dilemma. I feel like after a little over a month of static contraction training I’m getting smaller. I’m a college student and my goal is really to get big muscles and lots of ladies….simply put. Static contraction on top of my nutrition and cardio routine kind of make fitness a part of everyday life, but when I look in the mirror I don’t really see the results I would like.

    Honestly I could care less about increased libido…I would just like to build a little mass.


  • Mike

    Hi Pete,

    Although I believe it’s not your expertise could you possibly address a question as to whether anabolic steroids could permanently turn ‘skinny guy’ into ‘huge guy’ despite his actual genetic limitations. Thanks for your answer and keep up the thought-full work.

  • Hi Pete,

    Thanks for the response.

    Totally agree with you about research. There is so much research done, but so much of it is just plain bad science (poorly designed and or poorly executed, etc.) I can think of 10-20 studies that I would like to see done.

    Keep up the excellent work over here.


  • John, what would help first is to get your weight and body fat measurements. Then we will know how much muscle and body fat you have. I train people all the time who lose weight and get “smaller” in the mirror but when I measure their bodyfat, they’ve actually gained muscle. When I started leaning up from my approximately 13% bodyfat to under 5%, I went down a size in all my clothes from medium to small. But I also put on muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat (just look at any fatty steak to prove it) and when you lose fat and put on muscle, you will get smaller. But getting smaller never felt so good……. 🙂

  • In my experience, after about 40 years of experimenting with every work out that came down the pike and eventually finding sct and pfw, the point to home in on is: what does one want to accomplish. There is no doubt that sct will make one the strongest they have ever been in the practical range of motion area. The range of motion that one uses in everyday life, like if you have to push a car off to the side of the road, your move your legs only a few inches at a time and may not move your arms at all. This is not a bodybuilding work out, although, it will enhance a body building or weight lifting work out. Power lifting and weight lifting competitions are graded on a full range lift, so one would need to incorporate that into his training. Body building is graded on appearance. They may do strength exhibitions but they are not required to in order to win a contest. Some body building exercises serve little purpose but to make a muscle look good. And what about MMA training. I would think sct would greatly enhance the strength of a fighter, but it does little for endurance.
    So again, it all depends on what one wants to accomplish.
    That’s just my 2 cents.

  • Leighan

    You also have to remember that when people say they are gaining mainly strength but no size, you have no idea how many calories they are taking in daily. Anyone who mentions about gaining primarily strength but not much size, remember that if you are not eating a surplus of around 300-500 extra calories a day, your strength is going to increase yes, but you’re not providing your body with the extra calories to add the additional muscle mass ALONG with the added strength 🙂
    If you ARE adding extra calories and this is still a problem, try adding a little extra and see how you go on?

  • Maybe. They might also turn a healthy guy into a very sick guy. Ever notice how a lot of pro bodybuilders and wrestlers die very early?

  • the way I understand it is that although “isometrics” have been around a long time (actually lifting buckets of sand would fit into the progressive resistance area and would not necessarily be isometric), SCT is simply a training model utilizing isometrics for maximum benefit by providing a program of progression and a scientific way of monitoring results.
    Nothing more, nothing less is claimed.

  • Mike

    Ouch! got that point. However, consider the new hormone replacement craze that even doctor prescribe. The aim is to increase the hormone balance, especially testosterone(for men), back to the early twenties level. These come under the heading : Life Enhancement and Longevity Protocols. This seems to be a milder form of the steroids those terminal bodybuilders use but are now being sold as size and strength enhancers. The sales pitch is that they are safe, necessary and potent additions to bodybuilding.

  • Nice way of saying it Rich.

  • Matt, I’m going to jump on here for Pete and give you the answer he’d give you. The exercises we’ve chosen for the SCT program are the exercises that activate the most muscle fibers for that particular muscle. The flat bench press is one of the best chest exercises ever. It allows you to have a maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of the pectoralis muscle. That’s why we chose the exercise. You do not need to do other exercises.

  • John D

    A small? So are you a “bigger” looking person physically? If not, this can only prove that you can’t gain mass on a pure SCT workout.

  • Mark Booysen

    Hi Pete A question regarding Hamstrings – is the weight load placed on the thighs during the leg press static contraction sufficient to stregthen the hamstrings?

  • I look much bigger than when I was heavier. Lean muscle is compact and dropping 10 pounds of fat will definitely make all your clothes look bigger on you. That’s why I don’t believe those before and after photos. They take a picture of someone wearing the same shorts or clothes in the before and after shot and they want you to believe that the person lost 10 pounds or more. Yeah right! If you lose 10 pounds of fat, your clothes are starting to sag on you big time.
    In addition I measure my weight and bodyfat so I know how much muscle mass and body fat mass I have. Needless to say, the muscle mass has gone up while my clothes have gotten big on me.

  • James

    Thanks Greg, I appreciate it!
    On another subject, what are the most effective SCT exercises to get bigger in my traps and shoulders, and should one drop cardio fitness routines to get bigger?
    Thanks a lot for your advise,

  • Brian T

    Hi Taku,

    So do you speculate that massive intensity like you get in the strongest range of motion done in the original beta workouts would be best for hypertrophy?

    Even in the beta hybrid, lots of isometric contractions with heavy weight you still bring it back down eccentrically too.

    I would speculate that simply extra reps at a very high intensity like with Pete’s exercises will maximise hypertrophy from an exercise point of view.

    And that is just speculation anyway, because I’ve done one isometric contraction with the most weight I could until very recently and I was packing on slabs of hard muscle with that.

    Now I am adding more reps and will see how that goes.

  • Your premise is crazy, John. If [name of one guy using isometrics] isn’t big it proves you can’t gain mass with isometric workouts. You need to bring up your game when it comes to logic.

  • Some doctors (who make money at it) prescribe it. Most don’t. I get the impression you really, really want to take drugs and hormones to get bigger muscles. There are tons of websites that help people do that. This isn’t one of them. I wouldn’t recommend anything here that I wouldn’t tell my own kids to do. And unless one of them had a bone fide medical deficiency I’d tell them to stay off the needles at all costs. (Maybe having lower testosterone when you’re older is nature’s way of preventing cancer, tumors and strokes – why jack it up to teenager levels when we don’t know these things for certain? For vanity? No thanks.)

  • James, the most effective exercises for those muscles are the ones in the Train Smart e-book. (We measured all the common exercises.) Is that how you’re training?

  • James

    Thanks Pete.
    I need to get your ebook!
    I really look up to your advise.
    At this stage, I can’t afford gym membership so the best I can do is train with an old second hand Bullworker from the 1960’s. Ofcourse, the main problem with training with this apparatus, this, “is how do you measure?” (you can’t, not with the bullworker.)
    That’s why I’m looking forward to being one of your first SCT-certified strength trainers (and hoisting some serious iron in the gym;)
    thanks a lot!
    My question is does doing cardio fitness, will it make me lose muscle mass, because of it (fitness regime), reducing testorene levels in the body?

  • Matt

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for the response – but it seems that you’re saying the flat bench is the “best bang for buck” etc. I’ve no doubt that it is, but what I want to know is when you see the pics of guys that have a full chest up to their collar bone, how do I get that?
    Pete did tests which studied the maximum intensity of certain exercises on certain muscles – this might be the MVC that you refer to. On a similar note, does flat benchpress work the upper pec area (specifically that area) as much as incline bench press?
    I’m wondering, if the only difference between flat bench and incline bench is that your shoulders do more work on incline, but perhaps the upper area of the chest muscle is doing the same amount of work for both exercises. If the upper chest is experiencing the same level of intensity for both exercises, then I would conclude that there is no need for incline bench.

  • John D

    Yes but I know people personally who have gained mass by higher rep workouts. I believe this fact is pretty common. The bottom line is that I don’t want to be small. Strength is great, but I want to train for mass, and until I see the results from SCT or a clear answer from Mr. Sisco or Mr. Karr I won’t believe that one rep can possibly build size.

    I appreciate your numerous posts but I can see some clear “beating around the bush” about the issue. Greg I want to be the guy with the XL shirt. It is certainly possible to be lean AND big…but how can static contraction help with that at all. A clear answer will be appreciated.


  • Mike

    Thanks Pete, I was giving the matter consideration but your candid remarks have given me pause for thought.
    Let me change the subject a bit and pose another issue I need your response on. What about SCT bodyweight training? have you ever considered this and if so how what would be the approach? It would really be the ultimate training program if it could be applied anywhere anytime, no weights.

  • Mike

    …by the way Pete, the jury is in and the evidence seem irrefutable that low testosterone is one of the causes of, or exacerbates, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other maladies. Increasing testosterone and managing to keep estrogen low…in males…have been leading to new leases on life for many individuals even as we speak. Even moderately high levels of estrogen has been implicated in the diseases mentioned and especially prostate problems. Acknowleding your position though it is clear that massive increases in testosterone is not necessary for its benefits and decreasing estrogen too low can also create health problems. For reference see especially

  • Brian Schamber

    Just a general question. What do you think is the length of time that a healthy person can reach the upper limits of their genetic potential using textbook precise static training? Mike Mentzer used to claim that it could be reached in one year or less using Heavy Duty. Brian Johnston of IART fame put the figure at 18-24 months. In your training clients have you seen people making progress every workout for say 5 years straight? Keep up the good work.

  • James, it’s not easy to lose muscle. Doing cardio won’t reduce muscle as long as your SCT numbers are going up every workout.

  • James

    Thanks Pete and Greg, I really appreciate your answer.
    As long as I’m not imposing, could I ask is it true that doing sustained cardio reduces the testorene levels in the body?

    (Not doubting the many health benefits and reasons to perform regular cardio; just from the narrow point of view of strength and size gains if cardio affects body’s natural testorene levels, thanks!)

    Fan of SCT and your rational approach.

  • I never guess at these things. You need hard definitions of what the various limits are and what the pass/fail tests are for each limit. Then you need dozens of people to perform the workouts under nearly identical diet and other exercise (aerobic, cardio, flexibility) circumstances – then you only get generalities and averages anyway. So if you knew the answer from a study like that was 14.7 months, how would you use that information and apply it to you? Suppose you’re older? An endomorph? Diabetic? A woman? Already a marathon runner? The variables are enormous.

  • I’m not an MD so I don’t know anything about what oncologists are doing to prevent cancer. You’re saying testosterone prevents cancer. I don’t know and can’t speak to that argument.

  • Remember, progressive overload is indispensable in generating ongoing muscle gain. How do you add progressive overload when you use only bodyweight for resistance?

  • Leighan

    Although this is totally off subject, I have a question Pete. The other day I tried doing the seated barbell curls, so they were in the strongest range of motion, and I did some reps in that range. The weight was 22.5kg, however I found the weight puts a ton of pressure on my wrists when lowering, with it being much more than I can do normally. So i began thinking, maybe Dumbbells would be okay for an alternate version of this? I found it much easier to get the dumbbell in the right position, and it provided zero stress but felt just as heavy with it being 15kg per arm, which is 30kg overall compared to the barbell at 22kg anyway. Plus my stronger arm will have been doing slightly more work with the barbell, so doing it with the dumbbells would apply more weight to my weaker arm wouldn’t it?

  • John, why do you believe that a stronger muscle is not bigger? How would that even happen? Of course you know people who have built big muscles using higher rep workouts. Who doesn’t? That’s how 99% of people train. They use overkill. They use saturation workouts. All we’re saying is most of that is not necessary. If you care about efficiency try SCT, if you’re young and don’t care about wear and tear and time lost doing extra workouts then train all you can and enjoy yourself. Lifting cinder blocks all day long in your backyard will put huge muscles on you. It’s just not an efficient way to do it.

  • Leighan

    It is the CNS that stimulates muscle growth and not the stress imposed upon the muscles themselves. This is one of the reasons that Static Contraction Training can have a profound effect on muscle growth. Merely supporting very large weights can cause the CNS stimulation necessary to cause muscle growth.

    The CNS can determine whether the weight being handled is too heavy for you to handle. 300 pounds feels heavier than 200 whether you complete a rep or not. It’s the CNS that tells you that the heavier load is too much and it responds by manipulating hormones responsible for causing increased protein synthesis in the involved muscles.

    The heavier the weight, the greater the muscle tension created and, hence, more muscle growth stimulated.

  • John D

    The CNS argument is a small one. Unless I see pictorial, testimonial, or real scientific evidence that a STRENGTH training/one-rep max program can build muscle MASS I can’t believe what you have to say.

  • Leighan, why do the seated barbell curl when you can do a standing barbell curl inside a weight rack for maximum activation of the biceps muscle?

  • Leighan

    Well I was trying it at home at the time just to see what type of weight increase i’d have, that’s the only reason. I’m on week 2 of a 3 week layoff before going back and starting SCT.

  • James, define sustained cardio? 4-5 x a week for 30 minutes? No, that won’t reduce testosterone levels. 5-6x a week for 1 1/2 hours+? That could do it. Look for our free report on saturation workouts to explain why.

  • I need some clarification on rest. When a individual try’s to do their next static hold session and giving all the they have in the tank but can not pick up or hold that particular movement, but was able to do the other four holds, that would be a yellow light, meaning you need more time off. Now would you try again the next day for that one movement or rest until you are ready to do that same group of muscles? Example, right now I am at 4 day rest between each session of 5 exercises each (A-B) yesterday I was unable to do one of my holds and tried that hold again today giving all I had and could not lift the weight. I’m a shift worker and I don’t know if that has any thing to do with it. Need your help, thanks.

  • Leighan

    Just a question about Smith-Machines. I’ve heard alot about them placing stess on the body because of the unnatural vertical motion of the bar, but this is through full range of motion. Would these risks still be related to the SCT movements? because you’re only pushing the bar a small distance anyway with SCT so to me it doesn’t seem like they would. I’m asking this because I’m not sure if their are any power racks with safety bars in my gym.

  • The workout can be done on a smith machine. I like the power rack better because you also have to stabilize the weight as you lift it but the smith machine will work because of the small distances that are used for a static hold.

  • Robert, wait until the next A or B session to do that exercise. If you can’t lift the weight it’s because your muscle hasn’t fully recovered yet. Giving it more time will help. Muscle doesn’t start breaking down for several weeks so giving it an extra week or so recovery will only help you. Try it and let me know what happens. You’ll be happy you did.

  • Well report the results of your static holds when you get back to it.

  • Leighan

    Is there going to be much different in results when done on a power rack instead of a smith machine?

  • Tom Strong

    Another note; many Smith Machines, including the on at the gym that I go to, have a slight angle to them which replicates the normal range of motion.

  • Tom Strong

    Quote by Robert “I’m a shift worker and I don’t know if that has any thing to do with it.”

    Pete uses the term “Train with your brain” which is I think may have another meaning. I know that if I am not thinking positively I may not be able to lift as much as I might if I had a more positive outlook. I like to workout at a certain time of day and find that if I change my time I won’t have as positive of an outlook and won’t do as well!

  • Tom, that could well me one of the many things that affects performance. Try doing a max lift the day you get served with divorce papers. Haha. (On the other hand that might make some people tear up the gym and set personal records on every lift.) Sometimes the body is willing but the mind is weak, sometimes it’s vice versa. This is one of the reasons objective measurement is important.

  • You’re only moving the bar an inch or so, I can’t see there being a measurable difference in your gains over months of training.

  • As long as you are getting all the strength and size gains you want with your current-lighter weight, more-volume training, stick with it. But if you are not – remember the often quoted definition of insanity regarding not changing strategy. Haha

  • The thing about SCT is you should have the range of motion limited by a power rack, so you’re only lifting an inch or so. So the problem you had ‘lowering’ the weight doesn’t occur when done the right way. That said, I don’t like straight bars for doing curls. I always to better with an E-Z curl bar and a dumbbell mimics that position because you can pronate your wrist a bit.

  • Hi Matt! We tested incline and decline intensity and they were both close (but less than) flat bench presses. My quest has always been for efficiency so if there are 20 exercises for the triceps and bodybuilders say ‘this works the lateral head, that works the medial head’ I’ve always looked for the exercise that works the entire muscle to it’s maximum limit. To me, that means the triceps (or chest, or whatever) exercise that allows the most weight to be lifted. In other words, the exercises that works the upper, lower and mid pecs at the same time. That’s the definition of efficiency. People who don’t care too much about that could do flat, incline and decline presses every time if they wanted to. Just track the numbers and make sure they are all going up.

  • Most people find that the super-heavy leg presses do stimulate their hams. If you don’t think it’s working for you you can always add the hamstring exercise that allows you to hoist the most weight.

  • Leighan

    Thanks Pete and Greg ! I will indeed let you know the results I get.

  • Brian T

    This may interest you:

    There are studies that show you can still gain mass with as little as 800 calories per day on average. It is recommended that you are still getting 70g of protein, but even that is conservative advice as when lacking nutrients the body tends to use other avenues for muscle gain. HGH and testosterone go through the roof in and absence of protein, another thing studies have shown. HGH raises a LOT in a calorie deficit of any kind to help burn fat for the bodies energy needs.

    The body simply burns fat stores for calories when it has to and that can include for muscle building. The lack of protein one does confuse me a bit, but there appears to be some way for the body to deal with that issue as well.

    I don’t know exactly how this happens but I’ve proven it to myself as my lifts still go up in a deficit with minimal protein intake and therefore the protein structure of the muscle is still growing.

    Sometimes people confuse muscle size with transient states. In a calorie deficit state you have less water and glycogen filling the muscle. That will go back to normal in two days of eating a normal or maintenance level of calories and if you’ve been making the muscle lift bigger then the tissue itself is bigger and the muscle will BE bigger than it was when it is refilled with water and glycogen again.

    Proper stimulation or training and rest are the overwhelming factors in muscle building as far as I can see. To be conservative these days I still make sure I average 70g of protein per day, but if you have fat to burn the body will use that to make up energy calories you would otherwise get from carbs or excess protein that is broken down into energy.

    In my experience there is a lot of confusion out there on this topic, some people confuse getting big with putting on fat with muscle and some people misunderstand the temporary loss of water and glycogen from muscle during a calorie deficit.

  • Brian T

    There are testimonials all over the place on this site that attest to this.

    I put on 14 pounds of pure muscle in a month and my waist got smaller. It works.

    I would speculate the beta hybrid workout will build a bit more mass, but all of the SCT workouts will pack on muscle if done as stated.

    It is lifting very heavy weights to failure past what the muscle can really handle so it has to respond by growing if you give it enough rest to do so.

  • Leighan

    That does indeed interest me! Thanks for posting it. That protein statement confuses me as well haha

  • Leighan

    I also remember Pete saying in one of his audio Seminars that someone stated muscle will still grow without the presence insulin, testosterone or even food, provided stimulation has occured.

  • That was a physiologist named Dr. Albert Goldman at Harvard University.

  • Leighan

    Ahh yes now I remember. I was very shocked when I heard that statement.

  • Brian T

    I use your training Pete, it’s much better.

  • Brian, now that’s putting on some good muscle. You know you’re doing it right when your weight is going up and your waist size is going down.

  • John D

    Brian you did not put on 14 pounds of pure muscle in a month…that’s impossible.

  • Tom Strong

    Like Matt I would like my upper chest to be fuller (up to my collar bone) as well as my inner chest. I realize that the flat bench activates all muscle fibers in the pecs but have also added the incline bench to my CNS workouts (both narrow and wide grips). I do the incline after the flat and have noticed that I am only lifting 20 lbs less on the incline than the flat bench. I am also interested in effeciency but find that the extra 10 minuets in setting up and preforming the incline are worth it!

  • Brian T

    The weighing scale went up 12 pounds and I lost an inch off my waist.

    I’ve since lost another inch and a half off my waist and have put on another two pounds. That means I’ve put on another 4 pounds or so of muscle in the following three weeks.

    It’s not impossible.

  • Brian T

    Perhaps the best and easiest way is to simply lift the weight on the leg press and then raise the front of your feet off the plate so only the heels are able to hold it up. And find the weight you can truly hold up mainly with back of the legs.

    I’ve been doing this. If the weight is too heavy my toes go back near the metal and I can tell it is too much for my hamstrings and glutes. So I use less weight that I can hold properly on the heels.

  • Donnie Hunt

    These are some things I would encourage every one to think about:

    With the exercises in, “Static Contraction”, you are not fighting against your “sticking points”. You can simply focus on contracting your muscles against the resistance. Sticking points or “weaker ranges” will always be that. So why waste your time trying to strengthen them. If you stay out of these “weaker ranges” you’re probably not going to injure yourself. As Pete’s talked about on here before, when in everyday life or sports do you intentionally put yourself into a weak range and try to produce a great deal of force? These are just somethings I thought i would reiterate.

  • Leighan

    Adding to what Donnie said, the following paragraph is taken from Pete’s article, “Full Range of Motion Lifting and BMW ‘Limp Mode’.”

    It’s an important piece of information and I thought I’d add it here just incase some people haven’t read it:

    “If the joint in your shoulder is positioned in a mechanical disadvantage such as in the beginning of a full range bench press with the bar resting on the chest, the muscles will communicate to the brain via pain receptors that a 100% effort from the muscle would damage either the shoulder joint, tendons and or the shoulder and chest muscles themselves. The nociception/self-preservation system activates so that you cannot exert 100% effort thereby limiting the stimulus for muscle growth.

    This begs the question; why does the vast majority of people work out in the weakest range with resistance that is not enough to stimulate maximal growth? “

  • Actually that article was mostly written by a customer. But I agree.

  • aimo

    Hello again Pete and other friends!

    This is a really interesting email place.

    I am very enthusiastic again. I namely have been testing your Static Hold system from June 2010. I am now 73 y.o. and been training for shorter periods ( from some months to a few years at a time ) with weights, since I was 15 y.o.

    Now I wonder, that why did I not discover this SHC system for years ago.

    I have been very careful with this system to not hurt myself, so my weights/gains have
    not been very spectacular. I also have used your System very sparingly, last time I did it was on the 4th of January in the Squat: 2x 220kg/6 seconds. ( I started on the 24th of June doing Squats: 136kg/15 seconds )
    To day I did the following: Rows, 110 kg/10 sec., 30 kg + from 31st of August; Shrugs,
    160kg/10sec., 60g more than 11th of June; Dead lift, 180kg/10sec., 80kg more than on the 11th of June 2010. When the records were done, I used the lifting hooks, that I purchased from the U.S.A., to be sure of managing the lifts. Now it seems, that if I may bee well and healthy, I am going to double many of the lifts in one year.

    Do you think, that I can lift this year in the Squat 300 kg and 2012 400 kg and in Dead lift 250 kg this year and 300kg next year? It may be, that I expect too much, but on the other hand it may occur, that I am too modest in my expectations?

    Bench Press stays behind, because I used to have severe pains in my shoulders even last autumn, so I probably must let them be healed first doing some careful help movements only during this year… My record lift was only 125kg/5sec. on the 18th of November last year. On the 1970s I did a full BP with 127,5 kg in Finland, so I have lost a lot of strength after those years, but I will keep trying to do better, when I will be 75 years of age! Quite a high goal, is it not? Almost imposible? But a nice goal.

    I do train alone on my flat roof on the sunny days only here in Spain.

    Thank you so very much indeed, Pete for your revolutionizing expert advice! I will be happy to receive any help from your part. ( I lost almost all videos and texts, that I bought from you, when my computer crashed totally and left me without important information. Only a minor part was reserved on another computer ).

    Your loyal customer and friend,
    Aimo, 74 on the 4th of June 2011 ( if alive then ).

  • Thanks, Aimo! You’re an inspiration. I wish you were doing leg presses instead of those squats. Any chance an nearby gym would let you come in once a month and use theirs? Try doing the bench press is a range of motion where zero pain occurs. Then build your strength in only that range. That will still add muscle and it won’t hurt doing it.

    Just so my American (non metric) friends understand, you’re 73 years old and you’re doing multiple static squats with 484 lbs and your goal is to do 660 lbs on your 75th birthday. Aimo, you’re a Spanish god! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • John D

    You can still put on fat and decrease your waistline…and have plenty of water in your system.

    The bottom line is that if you don’t do some kind of rep workout (I’m doing a modified Beta workout now) you can’t train for mass. Strength is great, but I still am yet to see a decent argument, or scientific argument to equate strength training.

    Most powerlifters look like any old fat guy you see on the street…how do they train??? One-rep max.

  • John, you keep saying the same thing over and over; “Strength is not size.” I don’t think anything anyone here can say will convince you that a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle because you just don’t want to believe it. You must think there are guys with 12″ arms who bench 500 lbs because they only train for strength.

  • Brian T

    You aren’t listening John. My weight is going up, my fat is going down. That is muscle. Water plus food in your stomach can only fluctuate your waist by an inch in a day.

    The bottom line is I test my waist every morning (so it is at the same time and very similar water levels) and it is decreasing. The fat is lessoning along with excess water. It’s there in measurement, it is there visually.

    My shoulder girdle, which is just as prone as your abs to carrying water/fat, is getting bigger by the week.

    Powerlifters don’t do sct in case you haven’t noticed. They lift almost every day and in a full range of motion. It’s a whole different routine.

    Plus they rarely lift to failure as they are trying to train their nervous system as much as the muscle. It is the type of training you do when you want to get specifically better at lifts and guard against putting too much weight/muscle if you are in the lighter weights.

    Plus a lot of the lighter weight powerlifters are ectomorphs (naturally don’t carry huge muscle) and don’t train in a way to put on more muscle!

    But if they want to lift really big at some point you run out of what you can do with your nervous system without the muscle having to get bigger. You tell your body it has to get bigger when you lift as much as you possibly can, which is exactly what is done in sct.

    Strongest range of motion and you can only hold it for five seconds. That is beyond what your nervous system and muscle can handle and your body reacts, if given rest to do so, by growing the muscle to handle that stimulus the next time without having to breakdown. After rest that muscle tissue IS bigger. As bigger as you can get as fast as possible as you are lifting as big as you can and then you are resting and letting it grow as fast as possible without interference.

    And you if keep pushing it beyond its limit, it will keep engaging this response. It’s as simple as that.

    The one rep max guys you are taling about don’t lift heavy enough in a full range of motion to really make the body grow. Plus they don’t really rest enough either, which puts results in jeopardy as it is hard to know when you are over/under trained the way they do it.

    Enough stimulus or too much stimulus without adequate rest to let muscle grow is always in question.

    The only reason volume trainers grow using full range is because when they are lifting less than they would with sct they try to make up for that by training way more and more often. Sometimes that works, but these guys often end up hitting plateaus as well because again they don’t know when they are over/under training. For every guy that gets results with this there are 20 other guys that walked as it was getting too hit and miss results wise and they were probably feeling drained and overtrained.

    Do you realise how many people train for a month and then walk when results stop completely?

    Sct has all that you are looking for in gaining mass, specific feedback on when you are getting bigger and stronger and when you are resting enough and ready to train again.

    A normal ‘mass’ program can’t do this effectively and has to engage in crazy amounts work to try to accomplish the same level of pushing the muscle beyond it’s limits. It often results in overtraining and results screech to a crawl fast as well.

    The beta hybrid sct workout is very intense and there is also more volume. So in theory it is even more intense and should stimulate more muscle growth. But maybe it needs more rest too and it might end up being similar in speed of results.

    I hope you get this now John. I written a bloody novel there and everything you are looking to have answered on building muscle as fast you possibly can is in there if you read it and reread it if needs be.

    That’s all we can do is give you the right advise, experience and science on the topic, the rest is up to you.

  • Mike 2

    Strength is not size (‘Mr A’ can be smaller than ‘Mr B’, yet stronger than him)
    But bigger is stronger… If ‘Mr A’ gets bigger then he gets stronger – and vice versa. This “law” also applies to ‘MR B’.
    SCT makes you stronger and therefore bigger too!
    Strength is a combination of muscle size & composition combined with your ability to employ all that muscle. You can grow your muscles, you can change muscle composition, and you can teach your nervous system to employ more muscle per contraction.
    SCT does a good job of growing big/strong muscles for little training time. it’s not the only way to improve yourself, and if you feel that your needs are not fulfilled by SCT – then that’s fine too.
    Personally I have grown to my required visual size and now focus more on performance and power (this requires different training special to my chosen sports). Most people don’t have performance requirements, so they can save time by doing SCT and getting visual results fast!
    But whatever route you choose, you can only get the best results if you take care of both exercise, rest and nutrition. Some people fuel their workouts with bodyfat (lucky them) and others just have to eat more quality food.
    Genetics and previous lifestyle play a big part in how the body deals with a demanding workout – but I believe that genetics is minor compared to previous history. Skinny guy who never did any real work in his life will take much longer to get that great body, than will a guy who once had an average ok physique. They can both get there in the end, but they must each do what is best for them.
    SCT kicks ass compared to most methods of strength/size training, but that doesn’t mean that you should never use alternative methods. Use what gets you from where you are now to the ‘next’ stage. And then re-assess and move on.

    For the guy who is getting stronger, but smaller… re-examine your diet and your rest periods. Maybe your calorie intake is ok, but what about the nutritional quality of the food – are you fueling up for growth or for a long run?
    I wish you all the best in getting what you what by whichever means works for you.
    Thanks Pete for all the science that you bring to workouts!

  • Brian T

    But how on earth do you get stronger and smaller? That makes zero sense and I’ve never seen that. He’s not losing muscle tissue or he would not be getting stronger. Even someone doing neurological training only would not be able to get stronger losing existing muscle tissue.

    He’s just losing body fat… or could be temporarily losing water and glycogen which will fill up the muscles again in just two days of normal or maintenance amount of calorie eating.

  • Leighan

    Also, for anyone that still doubts that a lift of 5 seconds will cause any change to be stimulated in the body, I just read an interesting piece of information from the book, “The Wisdom of Mike Mentzer”, that backs up Pete’s words, incase such person of doubt needs the 2nd opinion. In the book it says that; “It has been established clinically that intensity is the key factor, and that sets even lasting as little as a SECOND can stimulate a size and strength increase”

  • Jack

    Hi Pete, with all due respect here is a question, not to challenge you or anything but just that I’m confused. A friend of mine has got huge calves; he doesn’t go to the gym a lot (let alone doing low-rep-heavy-weight exercises). Yet his main activites include heaps of walking and dancing. He also raise his calves a lot daily for household chores becasue he’s short from what I observed. I’m in general a firm believer in Static training as well as low-rep heavy-weight approach. On the other hand, I heard many bodybuilders say one should do high-rep light-weight with calves becasue they mostly consist of slow-twitching muscles. Is this theroy well-founded ? . thanks. Jack (Syney NSW Australia)

  • Jerome


    I enjoy SCT training but after doing shrugs and deadlifts exercises my neck and trapezius feel very stiff and compressed for a few days which is very uncomfortable. What should I do ? Do other trainees have the same problem ?

  • Thanks, Jack. There are many ways to build muscle. I just talk about SCT as the most efficient way – not the only way. It sounds like your friend uses his leg muscles a lot and that’s why they are well developed. I’ve never heard the “high reps because they are mostly slow twitch fiber” story before. Do one 1,000 kilo toe press and see what that does for your calves – regardless of your particular fiber ratios.

  • Neither one of those should be compressing your neck. (I find the shrugs actually relieve tension in my neck.) Keep your head up looking straight ahead during the deadlifts and keep looking straight ahead during the shrugs.

  • Leighan

    Got an extract that you might like to see. Funnily enough, it actual relates to the calves directlyL

    “When I [I being Mike Mentzer] was in Holland recently (in 1981), I had an opportunity to visit with the eminent dutch exercise physiologist, Dr Jan Voss. Dr Voss was one of the early researches into muscle fibre types, actually performing numerous musicle biopsies, which are quite painful, on himself as part of research. He told me that the color of the muscle tissue in his calfs would change week to week. Some weeks there was a predominace of red fibres (slow twitch), some weeks white (fast twitch). He went on to say that the changes may actually take place day to day or even hour to hour, depending on things such as temperature, rate of exisitic metabolic activity, and so forth.
    Because it’s impossible to classify fibres into fast and slow, no application can therefore be made to ones training.”

    To add to this, I want to say something about my own experience which I found similar to what you stated about a friend of yours.
    From an early age I always walked on the tips of my feet. I have no idea why. Sometimes I even do it now without realising. [I’m currently 18 years old]
    And suprisingly, I could go on a seated calf raise machine in the gym and bang out reps of 12+ at 275lbs through the full range. On a toe press I can do over 600lbs. That was without any previous training. (I did standing calf raises on the stairs a few sessions but that was it)

  • Leighan

    And I missed a part off that.

    “Even if it were that slow twitch fibres were seen to dominate a muscle, it will not alter the fact that a high-intensity training stimulus is the only one that will result in size and strength increases in human muscle tissue.”

  • Arnold Ahyuen

    For almost a year I have been doing lower pully crunches with machines that don’t have enough weight in the stack. Solution? I bought and finally received my ab strap from K&D industries. I quickly hooked my ab strap up to the front tow hook on my 1994 Honda civic and climbed in to the strap and used 80 lbs of dumbells to hold my feet down. I pulled the Civic from a flat back position to a finish position moving the civic approx. 6 inches across a carpeted surface. That was fun!!! In about two weeks I plan to crunch my Honda Odyssey mini van!!

  • This is a reason that I’ve always been more comfortable (not to say certain) looking at weightlifting from the standpoint of physics. The principles of physics are well settled, whereas there’s a lot of quicksand around muscle physiology. Fiber types that change hourly? Wide variations in individuals? Psychological factors? Neurological factors? I’m happy knowing that in physics it always, in 100% of cases, takes more strength to lift 201 lbs than 200 lbs. That’s a measurement I can make and understand.

  • Haha! That’s a great story, Arnold. Now you have to work up to a Cadillac! These stories illustrate how poorly designed exercise equipment really is. People can get much stronger than the machines in a gym if they train in a way that taps their true maximum strength.
    (For people who don’t know, KD are the guys who also make the lifting hooks I recommend: )

  • Mike 2

    Hi Brian,

    My suggestion was that he may be (through training) learning to recruit more muscle fibres in a lift – which would make him stronger), but not allowing sufficient rest and nutrition.
    Such a response could occur for a short period of time – though sooner or later the strength gains would vanish as the muscle mass reduced past the threshold. Such a scenario can occur in previously trained individuals who have not trained for a while. They maintain their size (to a degree) but lose the ability to recruit. When they return to training they could get the “illusion” that they are smaller yet stronger.
    Of course, body fat losses are the most common cause. I just assumed that the guy in question would have been monitoring bodyfat using calipers, and already discouted that option.

  • Arnold Ahyuen

    Great!! I have neighbor that has a “Caddy”. I also ordered the hooks simultaneously. Deadlift held 505 lbs on the 10th. Cant wait to see what happens with the hooks tomorrow or Friday. My right elbow hurts a little when I press on it where the forearm muscle connects to the top part of the elbow joint. There are no range of motion limitations. I suspect it is from the close grip holds of 405 lbs that I did on the 10th as well. Also started one legging the leg press. Takes to damn long to load and unload 40 x 45 lbs plates. Now I just load around 14 to 16 plates with the goal being 20 plates. I’ve noticed that my outer quads are getting bigger and just solid!! Not bad for a guy getting ready to turn 46. Any Idea when K&D will get more Jack Hammers in?

  • No joy on the JackHammers. I checked with Dave. They have to make them in big lots and the last time he did it took way too long to get them all sold. They are an expensive item to buy and ship and I suppose the economy has caused people to cut back. They don’t have them in the production schedule now and don’t know when they will. Bummer. It’s a great device and as far as I know nobody has ever maxed it out.

  • Leighan

    Its a real shame, a lot of people don’t realise how important grip strength is. If they ever do make more I’ll be sure to attempt that goal of maxing it out 😉

  • Stevie

    I’m a little confused about 1 part of this article. If the guy on the right will never have muscles the size as the guy on the left does this mean he will never be as strong? If he can get as strong does it mean his muscles will be getting more dense?

    I totally agree with this article about the genetics. I always laugh when my friends want to try a new routine to get abs like the guy that does the routine. Even if they pinpoint and do exactly what that guy does in his workout (and his day to day life) there abs will still be different due to there genetics.

    Keep up the good work

  • The point is people have different capabilities. Both guys can improve, but some guys have the genes to be enormous and some don’t. Some guys have the genes to build strength to lift incredible weights and some don’t. Do you think the guy on the right could ever set a World Record for weightlifting? I doubt it. Do you think the guy on the left could ever set a World Record in a marathon? I doubt it.

  • Donnie Hunt

    A bigger muscle is going to have more contractile ability or be able to produce more force than a smaller muscle. The demonstratable strength is going to vary with different limb lengths, fiber type ratios, how proficient one is able to do a specific strength skill, etc. The important thing is to build what you have in the safest way possible. Get as strong as YOU can. Let your body worry about the size factor.

  • Leighan

    If someone who is small is worrying about whether their genetics are good enough for building a considerate amount of mass, don’t. You’ll never know what type of genes you have until you train.

    Danny Padilla weighed a meager 120 pounds before he started training, and he later went on to win Mr Universe. So while theirs no denying the role genetics play, don’t worry too much about it; because theirs no way of knowing what type of genes you have until you train.

  • RobJ

    Regarding curls. I had a question on that as well. The stress on my wrists is just too much at the weight my biceps can handle. I hate to use the slanted bar, but it is the only way to avoid that pain, and then get into some gains.
    I am guessing, but I think my lower arm is more involved when my grip is not so supinated? This cheats my biceps from a direct hit I know, but I am not sure what else to do. Any help is as always appreciated.

  • Brian T

    I think a skinny guy will get what he wants. If he trains for mass he will get it. SCT is the best and quickest way from what I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a LOT).

    It just might take him longer and he might not hit the same weights. However, maybe then he can look at volume or hyperplasia workouts that are starting to be muted.

    I wouldn’t say anything is set in stone limit wise either (apart from human limit). Ultimately with the right training and barring famine I think every guy can get the size he is looking for.

    But if you want to look like Arnold or Lou, well that’s probably not possible without dangerous steroids.

  • I say use the e-z curl bar and be comfortable. When your elbow bends it’s your biceps doing the work so I’m not sure what you mean by it not getting a ‘direct hit’. Any technique that delivers both more weight and less pain to an exercise is a win as long as it still focuses on the target muscle – and bending your elbow upward is all biceps.

  • Rama

    I agree with that statement…in my home country of Indonesia there are so many labour workers living below the poverty line..yet nearly all of them have solid muscular physique. Keep in mind that these guys dont have time or money to join a gym, nor even care about their diets. These guys are fine eating any decent meal as long as they can eat 2-3x a day. They dont have the time and money to care about high protein, low fat foods. Yet they have fantastic bodies because their muscles are stimulated enough from their labour work, and yes of course because they have low body fat as well.

  • Jim McNaughton

    hello Pete.
    I am 84 and beginning the static training in your course that I just purchased. I had your course before and lost it. I had a stroke last February 2010 so had to quit with the training for a time. Now I am back and in good shape. I was amazed after that length of time, I walked into the gym and right away could do the leg pres at 300 lbs, yesterday i did the whole rack of 450 lbs. Now I need to do the one leg press as there is no more weight for me to use with both legs. By recomendation of my neurologiost I use creapure after each workout for bigger muscles. Jim

  • Thanks, Jim. 84 and hoisting big iron! Way to go.

  • Anonymous

    My last workout I used 730 on the deadlift while using one ton hooks and it felt like the wrist wraps were going to pull my hands off. Albeit I got the weight up, but I just kind of let my hands dangle (maybe with a semi-closed fist) as I lifted the weight. Have you ever heard of anyone having this issue? I am going for 745 this Saturday and don’t want to end up like Captain Hook. Keep up the good work.

  • Congratulation on a very serious deadlift! It sounds like you might be letting the hooks hold all the weight. Don’t do that. Wrap your fingers around the hook and use all the grip strength you have. The hooks are an aid to your grip, not a replacement. Let us know when you hit 800 lbs.

  • Anonymous

    Gravity was a bad choice as Einstein disproved Newton’s law of gravity, and I’m sure his will be disproved some day as well. People still don’t completely understand gravity.

  • Sal

    I agree with the idea of the article that genetics determines what a person can ultimately look like. I just don’t like the “you would have needed to have different parents” idea, which is completely untrue. A single pair of parents can produce quite an array of offspring. It’s quite possible for a father with great genetics for bodybuilding to produce a son without them – I’ve lived it, and it’s not that I take after my mother either. We’ve all seen the reverse as well.

    The way you say it is catchy and you aren’t the only one who says it that way, but it is simply not correct.

  • People are really stuck on this.
    1. The “law” I’m referring to is that the area of a circle is pi x radius^2. The area and the radius have a fixed ratio – that will still be true in 100 million years. It’s exactly why a 50% strength gain does not become a 50% size gain.

    2. It’s overbroad to say Einstein disproved Newton. Newton is still correct until the sub-atomic level.

  • You are correct. Plus, if we had different parents we wouldn’t be “us”.

  • Leighan

    In relation to Workout Zero’s, doesn’t every workout contain a little bit of experimentation? When going into the next workout you don’t know how much more you can lift do you so isn’t every workout going to take a few attempts if you misjudge?

    Of course like mentioned before, growth can be stimulated with as little as a second of stimulation so I guess it’s always okay to go a little ‘over’

  • Right. And it’s the same with all weightlifting, you never know beforehand exactly what today’s maximum lift could be.

  • K


    Does anyone have any recommendations on what equipment to purchase? I’ve heard there are SCT gyms but cannot seem to find anything.



  • K, I have no recommendations as to SCT equipment, only a couple of companies to avoid. (Email me if you need to know.) I’ve never heard of SCT gyms so let me know if you hear about one.

  • Ronny Andersen

    Hi Pete,

    Thank you for allowing me to test out this program, I have met some opposition by people around me already who don`t believe it works, I guess I should simply stop talking about it and rather let the results be the preacher. All I know after completing my ZERO workouts is that my body feels the burn! 🙂

    Now I have a slight problem.. I maxed out the toe and leg press on my ZERO workout! The gym have no more weights to put on.. what to do what to do.. I did not know I could hold 400 kg! I do have some pain but I think its a good kind and a tingling sensation. I held it for 5 sec and perhaps I could experiment the possitions and length of time until I get to a better gym?

    I also have a challenge with my hands not being able to lift the weights that I otherwise could with my legs (obviously) but in such as deadlifts and shoulder shrugs.. Lat pulldown was also maxed at 95 kg.. I should go over to 1h but I think I need to work on posture.. anyway sorry for the complex question.. my real issue is leg and toe press.. any advise? 🙂

    Thank you


  • Ronny Andersen

    Thank you Pete this is brilliant cheats! I will let you know how it works out for me after a while.. I think it will go simply awesome! XD

    Take care bro 🙂


  • Brian T

    I have a question about weight training and speed and agility.

    There’s a gaelic footballer in Ireland called Paul Galvin and he’s among the best players in the country. Recently on a documentary he said ‘in one game a guy got away and I couldn’t chase him down, I said something is wrong here. I broke my training down and decided to give up the weights and focus on flexibility more. Now people don’t get away from me anymore’.

    I’ve heard this before off numerous people as well. What is happening with that Pete and Greg? Shouldn’t more muscle and strength mean more speed?

  • It’s hard to know exactly what he meant and very hard to know what actually happened. My best guess (and it is a guess) is that he was overtraining with weights and when he did less of it his performance improved.

  • Brian T

    That’s my best guess as well. It is a recurring theme though, as is the stronger you are the quicker you are, so it is confusing. So I’m thinking there has to be something else going on such as overtraining or joint damage from weight training in weak positions that seems to cause worsening performance.

  • Jerome

    Hello Pete,

    My 14 years old son (6′.00” and 165 lbs) is interested by SCT training aside from his regular sports activities (swimming, waterskiing, m.arts). What would be your advice ? How should he train ?


  • Hi Jerome, there is information on this page:

  • To answer your question, Ronny, I bought a pair of lifting hooks and they work. I was having the same problem as you,, in that my fingers couldn’t hold what my dead lift wanted to lift. Well it does now. My shoulder shrug also went from 420 to 470 lbs. on the very next gym session. Hows that for 61 yrs old. hahaha.
    You will pay a few dollars extra to convert your VISA to Canadian currency,,
    ($2-3) but it’s all worth it,, They work.

  • I bought your e books & was trhe best investment I ever made. Feb 4, 2011 was my SCT start date. I started with 630 lbs on the leg press and on March 25th I pushed 1000 lbs. I’ve never been happier. My bicepts seem slower, 70 to 85 lbs, (dumbells), but still it’s progress. Oh, and I added a hold for my forearm at 70 lbs February 4th, and on April 17, did 85 lbs. Is it cosher???
    Have a question about the tricepts, (close grip press). I went from pressing 400,, down to 380 lbs. So not being happy, I went to a tricept push down machine, and did 200 per arm. Didn’t quite understand ?? Guess I’ll hae to wait longer. Does it take longer for muscles to rebuild at age 61. Is there any scale??
    I ordered a pair of the lifting gloves that you recommend and boy was I glad I did. My shrug was 270,,300,,340,,370,, 400,, 420 & THEN,, ready for this– 470,(with the gloves). I love em. Takes a long time to get them, so if you want them quicker, go with a 2 or 3 day mailing. It’s also nontrackable since they are shipped out of Canada, but they are worth every penny. CAUTION I strained something just below my left elbow on that last lift. Probably didn’t warm up enough. Leaving for the gym, go every 10 or 12 days now, but will change soon to about 15 to 20 days. Older guys take longer. hahaha,, but everybody stares (smile)

  • You mention using dumbbells. How are you restricting the range of motion to your strongest range?

  • I use two hands to get to my strongest position, hold 5 seconds, then grab it with both hands and let it down. I’ve tried using a bar, but most times there is no one around to help lift it into position. I’m open for suggestions though.
    I also do my forearms the same way

  • A barbell inside a power rack is better. It might help with your lagging arms. Also, using a biceps machine with both hands and then doing the static hold with one hand can also be effective.

  • Nick

    I’ve heard that one cannot build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Is this true, Pete? I am trying to lose weight, but I also don’t want to look like a stick at the end.

  • Nick

    How much muscle weight can I expect to gain in the next month using SCT? Not sure how much weight I am losing is fat and how much is muscle.

  • It’s not impossible. People do it all the time. But it takes careful control of training and calories. You need enough to build new muscle tissue but not so much that you gain fat. People who are already too fat often build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It’s common. (You won’t wake up one morning looking “like a stick”. That never, ever happens.)

  • You’ll gain 8.6 pounds of muscle next month. Do you believe that? You shouldn’t. Nobody knows what you can gain or lose. Nobody. You train hard and measure as you go.

  • RobJ

    I have the same issue. Even if I try to provide some assistance with my grip, the weight is just too much. The hooks slide down past my outstretched fingers. It’s a concern, so I have switched to more of a PFT routine on my deadlifts and shrugs. I am enjoying the PFT gains though.

  • You should be able to adjust them so when they slip down they are in the right place.

  • Les

    Hi Pete, I am using the programme since 19 April and am making great progress. What I do find however, is that I feel “perculiar” a day after and cannot sleep for at least one night between workouts. It’s like my body wants to blow-up. Will this feeling go away after a time and will my sleep return to normal? Are there any other guys out there experiencing the same? How do I hasten overcoming this feeling? I thank you in advance for your help.

  • Les, this will go away. Its just a release of hormones from the workouts. Your body will adjust. You can’t hasten what your body has to do on its own.

  • Pete,
    I have contributed to this blog, occasionally, but I feel compelled to tell you this tale.
    For anyone that is skeptical or is not making the expected gains, here’s one for the record book. At least my record book, anyway.
    I don’t know how long it has been since I read your first e book on sct, maybe ten years?
    Has it been around that long?
    At the time, I had been working out all my life, was in my mid 40s and leaned towards heavy weight/low reps.
    Even experimented with partials.
    I loved your workout and quickly brought my full range, max on the bench from a fairly steady 295, struggle with over 300 to a couple reps with 235, in less than 3 months.
    I was really impressed except I just could not quite make the leap from a regular workout to laying off for weeks at a time.
    I experimented with sct and actually came up with my own version of what you now call PFW.
    I mixed really heavy partials with longer lay offs, especially on the big movements like deadlift into my workouts.
    So, here’s my latest story.
    Now, in my mid 50s, I had gotten up to six plates on the deadlift for 585. My version of the workout went something like this: I would lift a weight heavy enough that at 5 seconds I am starting to lose it, at 7 it is down on the pins. I might give it a little bounce at each second, so it was almost like doing 7 reps. I would then wait about a minute and do it again but this time I can not hold it past 5 seconds. Then wait as much as 3 minutes and do it one more time and usually can not hold it for a full 5 seconds. If I could hold it longer than 5 seconds on the second lift, I would increased it for the last lift. And, of course, on the third lift if I could hold it for 5 seconds I would increase the beginning weight on the next workout.
    I was not very scientific about it and would do that every so often, sometimes on a regular basis, like once a week, sometimes I would not get around to it again for a few weeks.
    Today I lifted 801!!! and you know what?
    I had about a 7 week lay off. Not to make excuses but, I had some work that backed up, had some crap piled up around my weight area, had a funeral to fly home for and a few other things that just got me out of the routine so I did not do a thing for this whole period. Oh I may have walked by the weight pile, felt guilty and did a quick set of presses or curls with dumb bells, but that was about it.
    Today, I finally cleaned up the area, warmed up with 4 plates and was shocked at how light it felt. Jumped right to the 6 plates and was shocked again, actually did like 15 partial reps.
    I said what the heck, put on the 44s that I rarely use, added a couple 10s & 5s and came up with 801. First time I attempted it, I could not get it off the pins. Rested for about 30 seconds, psyched myself up, set, ready, lift.
    It wasn’t easy, then again I didn’t expect it should be but I held it off the pins for a good 5 seconds.
    It felt GREAT!!!!
    I recently got the PFW PES version and it got me excited to work out again.
    I guess now I am a full believer and I’ll have to dust off the old bike if I want to work out everyday. ha ha
    Maybe I’ll get a treadmill.

  • It’s absolutely not impossible, I have been doing it all my life.
    I workout in cycles, which I know is not healthy, but because of life I may go months without working out then get back in the routine.
    Everytime I lay off, I gain weight as fat.
    When I start lifting again, it is usually heavy, in an sct or pfw type of workout but I’ll cut out all processed sugars, junk carbs, alcohol and check every label for high fructose corn syrup.
    I’ll still eat to satisfaction, throw in a protein shake for extra muscle building help and get looking good again in a couple months.

    So there you have it.

  • Rama

    Pete, this is not as an attack to you or anything, but I read in your “12 Ways” free report that trainees should build their forearms, yet apart from your SuperRep Arms book none of your programs have forearm-specific exercises in them….

  • I hear you. But the fact is most people don’t take that advice and I didn’t want to put unwanted exercises into the main program. For those who want to build their forearms, the information is in the arm training specialization workout – but only a fraction of people buy that compared to Train Smart.

  • Rama

    Yeah, I sort of wondered that maybe you didnt put it in your full body workouts because people just dont do forearm exercises. Which is kinda sad in my opinion, because as you said in your free report forearms are one of the most noticed bodyparts.

  • Ronny Andersen

    Hi Ken,
    Sorry for the late reply, thank you for your kind words of encouragement and sound advise! I will consider greatly those gloves, just need to know if they are made with leather or not as I`m a vegan through and through =)

    My grip strength have increased greatly, I can lift now 160 kilos dead lift and 140 on the shrug, did that one twice.. so I could probably lift more.. anyway I have the hybrid work out + the CNS and work out once a week and I do aerobic training on my days off.. although found that I should probably not train the following day after a my strength workout but rather go for a walk.

    You are doing simply amazing! You are the same age as my dad.. Proud of you. =)

    Take care always and God bless!


  • tony

    Hi Greg or Pete,
    Sorry if this sounds stupid but please could you explain to me why a standing bicep curl is better than a seated one

  • We say seated is better. We tested a few dozen experienced lifters and they scored better on average with the seated position. Standing was a very close second.

  • power pat

    hello pete, spend the last view days browsing through ur website getting blown away by the profound concept of SCT. I have my own gym with squat cage and olympics bar with wight up to 220kg. I going to start training according to your program and did my first bench yesterday static hold with 190kg. I will have to get some more plates soon. I have been lifting for almost 30yrs and I feel broken from all my hard work. Your program gives me new inspiration and I think this time I will achieve my goals. My question: I’m also a heavy weight muay thai fighter, which required a lot of aerobic drills, kicks and punches on the bag, sparring several times a week. 1) Will this kind of training interfere with my SCT program and recovery period? 2) how much MT could i train and still see progress in my strength and size? Looking forward to your reply. Thanks. Pat

  • Hi Pat! Hey, anything you do – including washing your car or cutting your lawn – will impact recovery somewhat. You never get something for nothing and all those other activities add to what your body has to deal with. That said, you can do whatever other activities you need to do and still train with SCT because you have meaningful numbers to tell you whether or not you got enough rest between SCT workouts. You can get an idea how to adjust your frequency from this article: Just think of your MA training as aerobics or walking (I know you’ll want to tell me it’s way more intense than walking but it is still a tiny, tiny fraction of the intensity of SCT so the comparison still applies.) In general, martial artists LOVE static contraction because it allows them more time to practice their art and delivers strength and power in the exact range MA’s need it.

  • Les

    Hi Pete,
    I am increasing the weights all the time, however, my bench press and close grip just stopped progressing. Is it possible to increase in all areas and not improve in one or two? Am I maybe stressing my muscles too much doing close grip on the one day and 8 days later doing the bench press? Maybe I should rest a bit longer but’s weird that I am progressing in every lift and not in the bench. I look forward to your comments and those of the other guys as well.

  • Hi Les! It’s not only possible, it’s normal. It’s unlikely 10 different muscle groups will all progress at exactly the same rate. Soon some areas lag, usually because they need more rest. Sometimes because they aren’t getting enough work. Just leave chest and triceps off your program for one cycle and see what happens when you try them again. Odds are you’ll see gains.

  • Pete,

    I’ve read many of your free articles…thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience at no cost. But. Now i would like to purchase one of your books. Can you tell what would be the best material for me?
    -I lean more to acquiring size and strength.
    -I don’t want a routine that utilizes special machines or equipment since i have a pretty tensive home gym.

  • John, try the power factor routine. The problem is, and its the problem most our trainees have, is that they gain strength so quickly that they quickly outgrow the machines at the gym. I doubt your home gym will be able to keep up with your strength gains.

  • Rama

    Hi Pete and Greg,
    I was just wondering, what should I do to strengthen my wrists? I find that on pushing exercises I naturally curl my wrists to be able to lift the weights. In most cases though this results in the wrists giving out before the targeted muscle. Is there any thing I could do strengthen my wrists or is it just the same as strengthening the forearms?

    Thanks in advance

  • Rama, try to keep your wrist straight when you do the push. Think of it this way…..when you throw a punch, you try to keep your wrist locked and straight so the force of the punch can be transmitted through the bones of the arm. If you bend your wrist when you punch, you can and will hurt it, and possibly even break it because the force will not be supported by the bones in your arm. Do the same with the static lifts. Keep your wrists as straight as possible so the force of the lift doesn’t go through your wrist but goes through your hand all the way through the bones in your arms.

  • Rama

    Well I dont know why but I felt I am able to push more this way….I thought it might have to do with the smith machines in my current gym (I never had this problem in the previous gym I went to). Maybe next time I’ll try to keep my wrist straight even if it meant using lighter weights.

  • Les

    Hi Pete and Greg
    After each workout I’m sore but not my abs nor chest. Is this because I’m not doing the crunch and bench press correctly? Also, after 2 months of SCT, I’m growing stronger by leaps and bounds but don’t see any muscles yet so just wondered how long will it take for the muscles to follow the huge strength gains? Thank you in advance for your answers.

  • Les, it could be that your crunch is not as heavy as it should be. If you’re training with conventional weights, the crunch exercise is VERY difficult to do properly due to the lack of weights available for the crunch machines at the gym. I know I can easily use the whole weight stack of any crunch machine that they have at the gym without so much as breaking a sweat. So you may have to look at that.
    About your chest…..are you a hard gainer for putting on chest muscle? Some guys just find it harder to put muscle on the chest. If you don’t see results in the next month, I’d try doing the power factor workout. That will definitely tax the fibers and the enzymes in the muscle and will push them to hypertrophy.

  • Steve

    Hi Pete,
    I have been practicing static and now power factor since 2004 when I purchased your Train Smart e-book. I’ve always wondered why you have the close grip bench and the regular bench on different workouts. I know there is a slight difference on on the triceps and pecs betwen the two lifts, but it seems that, basically the pecs, front delts and triceps are working hard in both workouts, causing a need for more recovery between workouts.
    I have experimented, regrouping the exercises with many different arrangements and like your XFT, 3 day split where the legs are one day, pulls another day and pushes on a 3rd workout. I don’t read about that workout any more and I can’t help but wonder why.

  • Rene Kittelsen


    I’m a 30 year old norwegian male who loves SCT!

    I have used this workout for 2 weeks now, and I must say for a guy like me who nearly never have lifted weights at all (ok, I’ll confess It’s gone 8 years since my last traditional
    workout and it lasted a month, which I HATED!) and to be so excited It’s pretty remarkable. After doing SCT, from the Train Smart book, I’ve strengthen and tightened my body beyond my belief with such little time and effort. Did I mention I’ve grown? I can’t believe how good this works, or I really believe it now! 🙂

    We use kilograms over here so I converted it to LBS for you ppl, and here’s my overall
    strenght gain to now:

    Chest: 130 – 140 KG 286 – 308 LBS
    Biceps: 45 – 60 KG 99 – 132 LBS
    Triceps: 70 – 90 KG 154 – 198 LBS
    ABS: 35 – 50 KG 77 – 110 LBS
    Trapezius: 70 – 90 KG 154 – 198 LBS
    Shoulders: 70 – 85 KG 154 – 187 LBS
    Upper back: 90 – 95 KG 198 – 209 LBS
    Lower back: 140 – 150 KG 308 – 330 LBS
    Quads: 330 – 400 KG 727 – 881 LBS
    Calves: 170 – 190 KG 374 – 418 LBS

    Again, only in 2 weeks! Some few areas didn’t gain that much, but any gain is good!

    Motivation is through the roof, and I know I’ll have to rest more sooner then later, and
    that’s just my goal, REST A LOT and train less, it can’t get any better then that 🙂

    Thanks to Pete and the people around him, keep up the good work and give us the home equipment ASAP!


    I’m recommending this to anyone who wants to listen. Me and my brother are going to be living proof that this works, bring on the weights!

  • Rene, congratulations on your results and welcome to the world of static contraction. Now you know why we’re all excited about this training. I used to train 4-5 days a week in the gym and would hate it when I went on vacation because I’d miss my workouts and feel flat and deflated. Now, I train once every 3 weeks and I never lose my muscle. Its an amazing feeling not to be tied to a gym anymore. Thanks for spreading the good word. With your help I believe static contraction will take off around the world!

  • Hi Steve. They are on different days because they are so similar. Most people have no trouble making steady progress with this split. If they did not I might suggest the A,B,C split but it is rarely needed.

  • btw, that bench increase was supposed to read “a couple reps with 335”, not 235.
    I had to laugh when I read it again.
    What would be so impressive about that?
    ha ha

  • Pete or Greg,
    I have an equipment question.
    When doing close grip bench or curls, a straight bar really hurts my wrists so I use an EZ curl bar.
    The problem is that it is too short for the spread of pins on the power rack.
    I have used a regular bench with a narrow spread and would keep the bar above the racks, but with really heavy weight it can obviously be dangerous.
    Do you have any other suggestions?
    I usually work out alone.

  • Matt

    How to train forearms? Pete are you still selling that jackhammer product or what else can I get?

  • I never sold it, it was made by the folks who make the 1 ton hooks. They recently stopped making it. Are you specifically wanting more grip strength or more forearm size/strength?

  • Matt

    Hi Pete, can I have both? 🙂
    Grip is what I’m after, I think it helps with everything. I do have the 1ton hooks, they’re great.

  • You can have both but they require different exercises. Grip machines are hard to find. Hammer Strength makes one and I can’t remember seeing any other manufacturer’s grip machine in a commercial gym. Without a JackHammer I’d say get some grippers from IronMind.

  • Here’s some forearm and grip suggestions.
    A few years ago I started doing sct for forearms.
    No hanging my hands off a bench and curling my wrists, the weight I wanted to use was too heavy.
    I would lift the heaviest dumbell I could hold, hang it from my side or maybe lean against the dumbell rack so the dumbell hangs down a little in front of me.
    Then I would simply tighten my grip a pull it up tight. Very, very little movement. Others in the gym thought I was nuts, but that’s the case with most sct in the gym. [I now train almost exclusively at home]. My arm size and strength blew up in very short time. it got to the point that about 140 lb dumbell is what I needed to use but it would roll out of my grip before I could lift it. So, I made my own adjustable kettlebell with plumbing parts. I can make it as heavy as I want and it doesn’t roll. In fact it kind of resembles the hammer strength thingy you advertise. Just has no moveable parts. total cost, under $20.00.
    I can probably send a pic if you need.

  • maybe it was the jackhammer not hammerstrength.
    It looked like a handle with a pipe hanging down.
    You would load the pipe with weight then squeeze the handle.
    the adjustable kettle bell is the same except you don’t squeeze the handle you just lift it.
    sorry about the correction

  • has anyone had time to give this question some thought?

  • RobJ


    I have had the same issue. I have done three different things, and I have to say that the third one is giving me the most gains.

    1) Even if you lift alone, you can always ask someone else in the gym to help you get to position, or have a buddy around on bicep day. Usually, when I ask for help, I do get the questions, and then I simply refer them to this site.
    2) Use dumbbells, obviously for half the weight, and do one arm at a time. Remember your form, I like to use the Scott curl bench for this.
    3) Change your bicep routine from SCT to a PFT workout. For me this has been a great change for my biceps. My endurance has increased and I notice too, that my tolerance for heavier weights with the straight bar has gotten better too.

    Just some thoughts.

  • Thanks Rob,
    Sorry for the misunderstanding but I was referring more to the triceps close grip bench press.

    And, yes, I do also like power factor training but still can go heavy enough that I would prefer some sort of safety device like the power rack.
    There is no one to ask for help, I work out in my own gym at odd hours.

  • Ralph

    Hey Rich, makes a 6 foot long EZ Curl Bar under “Unique Products”. I use it to great comfort for my wrists. FYI, they also make a shrug bar and Gripper machine. Make should you get the heavy duty / high weight capacity versions in the “Strongman Equipment section. I quickly out grew the gripper and shrug bar using Pete’s ingenious training methods.

  • Matt

    Thanks Pete, I just ordered a set of 10 of the Captains of Crush.

    As for forearm size/strength – you said different exercises – what exercises should I be doing for size? I wouldn’t mind the bowling pin forearms either 🙂

  • Matt, I’m working on a ‘new and improved’ arm workout. Should have it ready in a few days.

  • Thanks Ralph,
    I checked it out, it is exactly what I am looking for.

  • Jordan

    I am pretty good at the mile: my time is 5:25. But I’m also pretty fast and good at “footballish” type stuff. Would you recommend the Beta PFW training or the Alpha?

  • K.C.

    My question is this. When does everyone work out at the gym? I mean, if you are using soo much weight, surly you can’t snag all of that weight without infringing on someone else’s workout. This question is preventing me from doing this workout. Should I workout VERY early in the morning, or the middle of the night, or when?

    How does everyone do it?



  • Try some Beta workouts. The only trade-off is your workouts will be longer and you will likely need a bit more recovery time, but if they yield you better results it’s worth testing.

  • Jordan

    Hey Pete.

    I got your PFW. I understand the Alpha training, but in Beta training do you just not increase weight but just increase duration? I mean, in your book it will say stuff like ‘a guy trained for 2 minutes at 29k per min., then next time did 29k per min for 3 min.’ I just don’t get it. So the guy didn’t stop lifting 29k per min at all for 2 min, then at next workout didn’t stop for 3 min???? Wouldn’t that mean that the weight he’s lifting is a little to light, even for beta workouts? So the entire excersize for each muscle is just like one really long set??

    Please reply,



  • Stuart

    Hey KC,
    I work out at night, but I am a night owl and I have always enjoyed training in the wee hours. I know that some guys on here work out in the afternoon and evening and have either come to enjoy the stares or learned to ignore them. Just experiment and find a time that works best for you.

  • What you stated is mostly correct so I’m not sure where your confusion is. You can get stronger in Alpha strength and you measure that with the Power Factor. You can get stronger in Beta strength and you measure that with the Power Index.

  • Matt

    Perhaps you can go to your gym at some different times, and figure out when the quiet period is and train then.

    I’ve shifted my workouts to afternoon from mornings, and found that it’s busy. I had to wait for someone to finish on the power-rack yesterday, then I was effectively hogging it for a while (chest and lower back). A week ago, a couple of guys commented that I had all the weights so they couldn’t do bench press (one guy commented to his buddy that he normally does benchpress before exercise bike, you know, as a warm up, followed by a full-body workout) lol.

  • Matt

    Hi Pete, I’ve just started the new PF routine, I did my 3rd workout yesterday and my scores went down, so a little direction would be much appreciated (should I increase my interval between workouts OR decrease the weight) – here’s the details:

    1) I’ve only been doing workout A to start with, so that’s chest and lower back and lats, I’ll incorporate the other workouts later, but for now it’s just workout A. This also means that my body has the full chance to recover, because I’m not doing any other activity besides walking (sometimes I walk to work, it’s 3 miles – 45mins) and “Workout A”.

    2) All 3 of my workouts have been on Mondays, so its 7 days separation for each. I’ve been sleeping heaps and eating heaps, so I don’t think there is any deficiency in those categories. Like I said, no other training or exertion so my body is purely resting.

    3) This may not fit the workout plan to the letter, but I’ve been doing a tiny bit of a max lift before each workout. I kinda see it as the proof of my strength increase – if I’m getting stronger, my max-peak lift should be going up. I make sure that I don’t tire myself on it, in fact it even seems like a bit of a warm-up for the PF workout, but it is my peak and I just lift it about 1 inch and hold it for about 1 second, and I do about 3 sets of that.

    4) My bodyweight is 69kg, and I am about 11% bodyfat (multiply the kg by 2.2 to get pounds). I get appraisals every 7 weeks on bodyfat with an electronic tester and also with skin-folds, so it’s really good and I’ve been able to track my progress with a variety of training styles and eating styles etc.

    5) It’s an awesome workout, I can actually feel my chest muscles “dying” while I’m doing it, typically by about rep 40 or so I’m forced to start taking a break, the muscle is shaking a bit and is really being drained/exhausted!! After a few seconds rest I’m back in it and racing against the clock, intensity is high!

    6) My workout numbers (for bench-press) are as follows:
    Workout 1: 160kg peak, and then 57 reps of 90kg in 2 mins
    Workout 2: 170kg peak, and then 57 reps of 100kg in 2 mins
    Workout 3: 180kg peak, and then 40 reps of 110kg in 2 mins

    So my scores went way down, because the 40rep effort sucked – maybe I was struggling too much with the 110kg weight (it kinda felt heavy! lol I was forced to take a lot of breaks). I really struggled to get that peak of 180kg, but I don’t believe that it was possible the week before so I think I’m stronger than last week.

    So should I drop it down to 100kg or 90kg and focus on getting the reps up higher? I can see that this is why you said to start with 2 mins for each workout, so that there’s not as many variables to worry about!

    I love this workout, buying your book was a great investment! When I go home at night after one of these workouts, I am so drained that I actually have to take a nap and also go to bed early lol! Which is interesting, because immediately after the workout I don’t feel fatigued overall, only the muscles that have been trained feel exhausted, the rest of me is fine – but later that night I’m entirely stuffed! 🙂

  • K.C.

    Is it better to work this program alone, or with a partner? Not sure why I’m so nervous about this program and I appreciate all of your supports. Like I said before I’m concerned about hogging all of the weights, but if I’m only working out once a week or so, I may not care. 🙂 Also, those times I could go very early in the morning (4am) or something so I have the gym to myself, more or less. But I did want to know if a partner was good, or not.

    Thanks for your help. I know I must sound like an idiot. Sorry.


  • When you use a power rack you don’t need a partner. I don’t know how strong you are but I doubt you’ll need to “hog all the weights” unless your gym only has a few plates. Other than the leg press, most people use about the same weight as the steroid monsters who train at the gym all day every day. Chances are people won’t even notice a few extra plates being used by you.

  • K.C.

    Really?? OK…then I do feel better. 🙂 To listen to the conversations here it sounds like everyone is pushing a ton of weight with each exercise.

    It’s been a couple of years since I’ve really worked out. I’ve always had pretty good muscle and great muscle memory. I like size! I like it when my short sleeve tees are tight around the arm. I like the comments about my chest. So which program would build me the quickest and the biggest without killing me?? LOL BTW…I’m in great shape for 55 with no health issues. But hate to be sore after a workout. The three days of dreading to sit or stand just are not fun.

    And honestly Pete, how long does it take to really learn this system. I also hear about timing and reps. How do you do this part? With a stop watch, or what? Or should I just buy the book and find out?? LOL

    Thanks for your help.


  • Bingo. It’s all in the e-book. Have fun! And let us know how you do. (Try the Train Smart workout – less wear and tear and soreness.)

  • tony

    Hi Pete
    When using a smith machine that does not have the saftey stop things on, is there anyway to improvise saftey stops so that if you lift more than you can re rack on a static contraction lift it wont all come falling down on you? for example on a bench press
    ps no power rack available

  • It sounds like you’re asking for an injury. A smith machine without safety stops isn’t really a smith machine.

  • tony

    You Might have misunderstood me, it has the saftey catches all the way up that the bar rests on but it doesnt have those saftey stop things that you can adjust so that the bar cannot pass a certain point.
    Sorry for being unclear do you see what I mean though now.
    Thanks Tony

  • Rene Kittelsen

    Hello again my fellow SCT ppl!

    After my fifth week I’m still gaining, and can really feel my body getting stronger and more fit! “Hulking up!” hehe.

    But serious, why would anyone want to train to get old (wear and tear), when we can get younger? (Brain + body = TRUE!). I asked someone this question and I was told “You don’t know anything” and that is true from my training background, but maybe it would be smart to check it out before discarding it?

    Anyhow, I waited 10 days between workouts and felt the last workout was really heavy. I added 2 days and the workout yesterday was lesser heavy. Can I say that? I really felt strong and gained in every exercise!

    Just telling my little story, and I’m telling everyone about SCT! But many people want proof, so I’m getting excited by thinking how strong I’ll be in 3, 6 or 12 months! I want to let people know about SCT, how good it really works.
    When i think back, just 1-2 months ago I really thought I never would train, ever, like I really hated training overall (traditional weighttraining, Yuck!)
    But now I am excited to get into the gym and just pressing the weights and knowing I’m getting results, fast! My next step is starting with a little endurance training, like bicycling and I’m really excited about that as well.

    This is positive in every way!

    To all who hesitate, just do it and feel it for yourselves! Nothing to lose, except your excessive fat!

    Don’t forget to eat right!

  • Rene Kittelsen

    Hey Pete!

    I’m wondering about something in PFW, like when you do the reps, how heavy should the weight be so I really can do the right number of reps for maximum intensity? Do I have to find my “sweetspot”?

    I’m norwegian and I think I missed something in the book, or don’t understand it fully.

    I will do PFW when the times right, but have to be sure I’m thinking straight/right.

    Hope you understand my question 🙂

  • Rene, it’s not possible for me (or anyone) to tell you what the perfect weight is for you to use on 10 different exercises. That’s why you experiment a bit and watch your graphs. You’ll very quickly zero in on your personal sweet spot for each exercise.

  • Congratulations on your success. Please keep up informed.

  • Tom Strong

    Hi Tony,

    If your gym doesn’t have the safety stops you may want to go to the power rack. The smith machines at my gym do have the safety stops and I make sure they are set prior to lifting anything!

  • Still sounds dangerous. If it doesn’t block a weight from landing on you, what good is it?

  • Brian

    Weekends are perfect! I mainly train on Saturdays anytime between 1:30pm in the afternoon until they close. Most gyms are not that busy at that time. It is perfect. I do have a workout partner, but when I am on my own I pretty much have the run of the place. Plus, you will get to a point quickly where you are working out (strength training) less and less.

  • Rene Kittelsen

    So far I’ve used 3 x 5 secs on every exercise with maximum intensity, and I have not timed it. Some exercises I can’t do the full 3 x 5 secs, no matter how long I wait, this tells me a little about how much precentage I can increase the next time around. I gained every time so far. Looks like maximum intensity works perfect for me at this time, but I’ll keep this up until I eventually hit a plateu.

    Thanks for det reply!

  • Matt

    Workout 4: 185kg peak, and then 56 reps of 100kg

    So my peak went up, and I feel like it was easier than the 180kg that I did the previous week, so I’m confident and happy that I’ve gotten stronger in the last week. But I’m not sure if 2% gains is adequate? I’m very tempted to do a 10 day break instead of the 7 day break, to see if it results in better gains 🙂

    Thanks again for the great workout routine!

  • Take more time off. Many advanced trainees go 4-8 weeks between workouts. Your muscle will not evaporate, believe me.

  • Brian T

    Hey Pete,

    I’ve started doing the beta workout now. Will I still be increasing my speed by doing this workout like I was with the alpha workout?

    Plus, am I right in saying if you continually try to increase the weight while at the very least doing the same amount of reps you are still going to be increasing alpha strength as well? I’d like to think my peak strength is still going up by doing this.

  • Beta workouts are for endurance. Your peak speed might increase but your endurance is sure to. Life is full of trade-offs. You can run fast or you can run a long time, but . . . you know.

  • Brian T

    Which workout will help performance on a soccer pitch the most in your opinion Pete, the beta or the alpha workout?

    Or maybe I could do a 5 sec hold and then do beta reps for 2 minutes like someone else suggested?

    Would that be a way around any possible trade off?

    Another option I guess is to do the alpha workout with the frequency outlined… and on top of that army/navy seal type muscular endurance workouts a few times a week or more.

  • Soccer is an endurance event because you’re always on the move. You rarely (if ever) need your absolute peak strength so I’d say go with the Beta routine. Trade-offs? I’d say is you wanted to reach your peak 100-meter time you’d want to do Alpha but with soccer you’re doing 100-meters over and over during the game, so the Beta program makes good sense.

  • arnold ahyuen

    Brian I have found that the torque that you generate from muscle due to alpha workouts is most useful in the midfield where you are always trying to win the ball and distribute. Especially, the outside mid who recieves a ball in isolation, pushes a ball in to space and then explodes in to that space, as is often the case, the alpha is the better workout. A striker may benefit better from a beta workout but there too a striker can benefit from the alpha workout that strengthens and stoutly stabilizes quads, calves, hips, feet in challenges on a well placed ball in the open field. I like the stability and torque that you get from an alpha. Besides soccer is all about letting the ball do the beta workout. Pete?

  • Sounds like good advice. I know very little about soccer/football. I just build the muscles. Haha.

  • arnold ahyuen

    you don’t have to know about soccer Pete. :). But just know that the balance and ability to keep your hips over the ball in a challenge will be greatly enhanced by alpha workouts

  • tony

    @ brian t @arnold@pete
    I would agree alpha training for football, Im one of those wide midfield players you mentioned Im also 42 years old and in a sprint can out run most players 25 to 30yrs upwards though sadley will never keep up with someone who is 18 these days.
    As an ex defender a word of caution when going past a player, put as much space as possible between yourself and the defender to reduce the risk of being tripped up, When in a tight situation I find myself slowing down these days just due to self presevation,I just dont fancy hitting the astro turf at full speed.
    Pete do you know of any sports teams that use static contraction can you imagine Barcelona with 10% more strength, come on Pete get with the football!! haha

  • tony

    @mike @ pete
    I too have an xf machine and would like to know about these extra excersises you do,I know the xf is as rare as the dodo but it still exists.
    Pete shoulder press….. cant do it anymore as it has caused no end of injurys both before and after sc training can you recomend a replacement? its the overhead push that screws my back up.

  • An incline bench press is part shoulder/part chest exercise – lay flat and it’s all chest, sit up straight and it’s all shoulders. Try a 45 degree incline and see if it hurts your shoulders. Adjust accordingly. It’s a compromise but it might be all you can do.

  • tony

    I found the power rack so thats one problem solved!!! I transfered the workout I do on the xf machine to the real gym with real weights for a change and found it harder work plus im feeling aching and stiffnes which I dont feel after using the xf!
    Any comments or reasons why please?

  • Les

    Hi Pete, Because I’m only working out 2x a month now so as to allow full recovery, I cancelled my gym and now workout at my city’s fitness center. The new gym does not have barbells-only machines and dumbles up to 80lbs. I do all my lifting on the machines but cannot do the deadlift and shrugs. I did use the 80lbs dumbells but these are now far too light and just wondered whether you had a solution? Would alternating and balancing on one leg and lifting have the same effect? Also, I used the Verticle Row machine for the bench press so will this give me the same results as the BB bench press? Kindly let me know and many thanks in advance.

  • It’s always tough trying to work with inferior equipment. Physics is unforgiving. I always remind people that most gyms have a visitor rate that will let you pay a few bucks and get access to the good stuff. Doing lifts with one leg on the ground is inviting injury. However, here are some ways to cheat machines:

  • Matt

    well I’m stoked. My results were so improved that I’m blown away.

    Workout 5 (10 days rest): 190kg peak, and then 68 reps of 100kg

    It was so bizarre, because when I had benched 57reps (which is how many I did in my last workout) I checked my clock to see if I had missed the buzzer and gone over 2 mins – but I still had 20+ seconds left! The graphs on the spreadsheet show big improvements.

    I even got that peak up further, and I remember that in my last workout the 185kg was really a struggle, if it was 1kg heavier I couldn’t have done it. But today, an extra 5kg of strength, awesome.

    Pete, the extra time to recover, it’s paid off big-time!

  • Matt

    Workout 6 (12days rest): 190kg peak, and then 51 reps of 110kg

    So I meant to try 195kg for the peak, but I counted up the weights on the bar incorrectly! However, if you look at my workout 3 results, in the PFT exercise I could only do 40 reps of 110, so I just increased that by 25%!!

    So next workout I will aim for 195kg peak and a lot of reps on 105kg…

    But I am very happy with my workouts to date, thanks Pete!

  • Matt

    Workout 7 (15 days rest): 195kg peak, and then 56 reps of 105kg

    The peak was really tough! I failed to get it off the power-rack bars about 3 times, and then on the 4th try I got it up. So there’s no doubt, that was the absolute limit of my peak ability! When my peak becomes 3x my bodyweight I’ll be really happy, that’ll be 210kg.

    And as for the PFT results, this is absolutely fantastic, continued improvement over time. A summary so you can see the improvements:
    a) 57x90kg (first workout)
    b) 57x100kg (7 days rest)
    c) 40x110kg (7 days rest)
    d) 56x100kg (7 days rest)
    e) 68x100kg (10 days rest)
    f) 51x110kg (12 days rest)
    g) 56x105kg (15 days rest)
    So compare a-b-d-g and you’ll see for about the same # reps I went from 90 to 100 to 100 to 105… and if you compare c-f for the same weight I went from 40reps to 51reps.

    My next workout is gonna be with either 100kg or 105kg, and if it’s 100kg then I aim for more than 68reps and if its 105kg then I aim for more than 56reps 🙂 The last few days I’ve started eating more too, like just a big glass of milk every now and then during the day, and taking multi-vitamins with my meals, it can’t hurt 🙂

    Keep looking up!

  • Bob


    On this article about the genetics between the 2 models that you commented on,that no matter what the guy on the right does he will never be as the guy on the left.
    I also agree,being a hardgainer type I am more towards the guy on the right than the left.
    In your power factor training,could I do a little better in mass gains than doing what I am doing now on the train smart routine-beta style?As your chart showed for hardgainers.The power factor article you wrote on had shown to my understanding that PFT looked to be more effective for muscle gains than strength gains,or should I continue watching my numbers.I just don’t want to waist my time doing something less efficient for my body.If that is the case I would rather do a little more volume and see more mass than strength.If that being the case I would order the PFT e-book.Please let me know what you think about this,and thanks again for your time and help…

  • In general, if you are a person who does well with higher volume workouts then the PF routine is preferred. When people find it hard to gain muscle with quick, efficient workouts I steer them toward PF because it not only provides more volume it also gives you two ways to measure your intensity and that keeps you on track workout after workout. On the topic of size vs strength they are directly related – as a muscle gets stronger it gets bigger and vice versa. The real issue is to make measurable progress every workout.

  • Matt

    Workout 8 (15 days rest): 200kg peak, and then 61 reps of 105kg

    Really happy with that 🙂

  • Rene Kittelsen

    Here’s a update on my accomplishment so far:

    I started out with these numbers:
    Workout A
    Abs 77 lbs
    Biceps 99 lbs
    Shoulders 154 lbs
    Traps 154 lbs
    Triceps 154 lbs

    Workout B
    Lats 198 lbs (both arms)
    Chest 286 lbs
    Deadlift 308 lbs
    Calves 374 lbs (both legs)
    Quads 726 lbs (both legs)

    Here’s my current holds 🙂

    Workout A
    Abs187 lbs
    Biceps 129 lbs
    Shoulders 250 lbs
    Traps 330
    Triceps 283 lbs

    Workout B
    Lats 154 (one arm, easier to do for some reason)
    Chest 429 lbs
    Deadlift 484 lbs
    Calves 660 lbs (both legs)
    Quads 660 lbs (one leg!)

    Think the numbers speak for themselves, and this is after 3 months! 🙂

    I did make some mistakes were I was lifting somewhat wrong with some exercises and have to mention it cause it’s easy to do it the wrong way and I did already hit a plateu in my second month of SCT. I also thought by increasing from 1 x 5 sec hold, to 3 x 5 sec holds would increase performance, but actually it didn’t do anything good cause it just drains you even more and harder to pinpoint your recovery time. So I went back to just aiming for 1 x 5 sec holds and the weight 2-5% increase and voila I was back with consistency and accurate gains and recovery time.

    My body has changed a little, but I’m aiming for next summer where I should be outstanding in the way of strength and size (looks!:) looking forward to this! hehe

    For all the new people trying out SCT, follow the book to the letter and don’t think whether or not you should add this and that. You have to try out the exercises which they are shown and some of them you need to adjust to your own physique, cause their can be some difference in where your static hold generates most intensity.

    And another thing, WARM UP AND STRETCH OUT! very important, cause I forgot to do the stretching part one day, and the day after at work I did a normal bending to get some tools and *snap* I got a muscle strain in my lower back, and that hurt like hell! It took some days to recover, but it didn’t interrupt my training fortunately.

    One more tip, 1toonhooks and the pads from newgrip is awesome, and at very low cost in my opinion. Wouldn’t train without it 🙂 [Ed. Both at this page: ]

    I wouldn’t be training at all if it wasn’t for SCT!

    Thanks again Pete for this awesome training method! 🙂

    Bring on the weights!

  • Thanks for posting, Rene. Most of your results are up near or at 100% increases in 3 month. Well done.

  • Rene Kittelsen

    Can’t wait to show everyone next year what they missed out on by NOT trying out SCT 🙂 will I notice jealousy, oh yes! hehe

    Just moving around is easier, my jobs easier and I just feel great overall with a stronger body 🙂

    Thanks again!

  • Wryley Rockwell

    I continue to see the same pattern here. People get better at holding heavier weights but they fail to build much muscle or improve their bodies very much.
    That was my result too and I believe I finally know why………
    When one uses a heavier weight during a partial movement the actual resistance on the muscle is less not greater due to the mechanical advantage of the strong range limited range of motion.
    The weight used is not as important as the resistance which means weight and leverage. A heavier weight in a smaller range of motion is less effective because you only use the strongest part of the movement.
    That is why I increased the weight in all of my exercises but looked no better after months of hard training with much heavier poundages. My log book looked great, the numbers were much heavier but I failed to build much visible muscle. I read similiar stories here often.
    So, if you want to keep measuring your progress by holding heavier and heavier weights this is the program for you but I do not think it will ever build an impressive physique.

  • How do you account for “the pattern” of thousands of people building bigger, stronger muscles over the last 15 years of SCT (and for nearly a century before, using old isometric routines). How do you account for the people who have measured and found they gained 10, 20 or 30+ lbs of muscle? Is it possible, just possible, you and some others did something wrong in your training that prevented your muscle growth? Wouldn’t that explain why so many others gained strength and muscle mass but you did not?

  • Rene Kittelsen

    I can see results on my body, tightened and I definitely see it on my arms (13 inch to 14.6 inch!:) I can see my chest is also growing slowly, and my legs.
    Some people have the advantage of having a physique (genetics?) which gains faster in size, and this will always be a factor.

    I commented here the other day and I’m in my 11 week now and still gaining 3-5% strength in every exercise. My chest opened-a-can of whoopass after 20 days of rest with 429 to 451 lbs! and my back from 484 to 506! for this to happen I must have increased muscle size, or my gains would have stopped.
    I found my rythm and are doing things right.
    I found out I had to do small adjustments over a period of time cause it didn’t feel right, but I adjusted accordingly and now I’m blooming 🙂 hehe

    Now the weights are really starting to get heavy! 🙂 Enjoying my every workout!

  • Stuart


    I have gained size in my arms and chest. An inch on each bicep and

  • Stuart

    An inch on each bicep last time I measured. I don’t really know why others, such as yourself, practicing SCT have had so much trouble putting on muscle. I eat a good amount of calories and lots of protein so maybe the answer lies in diet?

    The funny thing is my muscles are growing in size but I could care less. I am a solid 230 pounds and am happy with my build for the most part. I just want to get stronger.
    NOTHING has ever worked for me as well as SCT. I have never experienced consistent gains like this and I love it. Also, I wonder if some trainees are comparing their muscular development to those that are using heavy dosages of anabolic steroids. The majority of individuals you see on the infomercials or in the muscle mags are juicing. Heck most of the guys in your local gym are juicing. Steroids aren’t hard to get. I think people have to get their minds wrapped around the fact that there are no shortcuts when it comes to putting on muscle safely.
    Even top bodybuilders, loaded to the gills with steroids AND blessed with great genetics, take years to get to that level of freaky development. For me personally, if I am making steady gains I am satisfied.

  • Ringo


    It’s an interesting concept and I’m trying it as we speak. I have some preliminary observations which I’d like to share.

    When you tell someone they can have a massive bench – oh say 500lbs like Tony Robbins, he’s not actually doing a 500lbs bench. He’s doing a 500lbs static press. I think everyone knows that you are only as strong as your weakest link – in this case that would be your starting position in an actual bench press, which is very close the the chest and not 1″ to 2″ off it’s full extension. That is a HUGE difference, HUGE.

    My intent is to see if “Training Smart” will increase my mass and strength to actually increase my my bench in a true full range of motion lift. I’ll be sure to post that result here. Do you have any videos on proper form ?

  • Rama

    Did you get enough rest between workouts? Are you sure all your numbers increase? How many months did you try SCT? How was your diet? What were your BF % before you begin and after you finish SCT?

    There are so many questions one can ask if something works for others but some others can’t find that it “works”. For example, it could be that they are doing something wrong. Its like learning how to drive a car. It “works” but there are those who just cant drive a car well because they keep on doing something wrong.

    If after you answer all those questions and they are all in check but we still find that the system “didnt work” for you….it could just be that you are a “hardgainer” and need more volume.

    To be honest I cant speak much for SCT (because I do PFT, which is awesome btw) but I believe it when I read people here post comments on their results (both strength and size changes).

  • Brian

    Hi Wryley, it is unfortunate that you did not consult with Pete and Greg earlier when you “thought” you saw not much change in your physique. Of course, congrats on the higher lifts and your progress there. You did not mention whether you were lean or had any weight to lose. There are so many factors when you are trying to change your physique such as metabolism, body fat level, lifestyle, age, ilness, stress, even food intake (I know Pete has mixed feelings on this one…wink). I would advise you give a little more detail to the guys so they can make the appropriate recommendation. Either way, stay educated on what really makes the body change. There are a lot lies, mistruths, and just plain bullshit to sell programs. These guys took the time and tested everything. I seldom find that in other training programs. Keep the faith and stay with it.

  • Increasing your muscle mass and increasing your regulation bench press are two different goals. SCT is about getting the health benefits of more lean muscle – it’s not about any specific sport. You have to decide where your priorities are. If you want a maximum regulation bench press then you have to practice that frequently.

  • Wryley Rockwell


    What pattern ?

    I have NEVER seen a lean, muscular physique built solely by SCT.

    I gave it an all out effort and I wanted it to work.

    My poundages skyrocketed but my body changed very little.

    My “aha moment” came in the gym when I was breaking my wrists benching 475. The biggest, most muscular man in the gym was on the next bench over doing multiple sets with 185. He looked much better than I ever will. He was using much lighter poundages on all his exercises and he looked like he could win any state level competition. I looked like a husky guy who could have played football a few years back.
    I did my curls with 165. He used 35 pound dumbells and his arms were bigger, and more defined than mine.
    I concluded that holding heavy weights must not be the answer.
    How did he get so impressive using such light weights ?

  • How many SCT physiques have you seen, and are you telling us that none of them was muscular?

    Nobody said you can’t build muscles with lighter weights, or by operating a shovel, or my lifting rocks all day as a landscaper. The point is that SCT does it with about 1% of the training volume. That has great value to a lot of people who don’t have the time or don’t want the wear and tear of the other methods.

  • Last year my 8th grader asked me what exercises he needed to do to get better in football. I answered, workout ALL the muscles you will use, the way you will use them. He said, I need ALL my muscles dad, and I need maximum strength. I asked, for how long an exertion period. He did some research, and it was less than 10 seconds. I said, How much time between exertions. He said about 20-30 seconds. I said how many repititions, He said about 60.

    We then built a workout program based on his stated needs using the XF machine I had purchased years before. High School Football has started. My son is considered the strongest man on the team, and can block the biggest senior tackle and hold him. He is a starting center. He beat out 3 other players to get the position.

    Figure out what you need for your sport. Figure out the strength requirements, the exertion period, the time between exertions, and the number of exertions you will need to do. Design your workout based on your sports requirements.

    One last thing …. STRETCH to avoid injury.

  • Interesting, I went the opposite route. I did my workouts in the gym with real weights and felt like it was a lot more work because of lifting thousands of pounds on and off of bars, and was always sore and stiff. Then I bought an XF machine, and I am rarely sore and stiff, and I am not exhausted from trying to load 2200 lbs. onto a bar for my leg extensions.

    That you are experiencing what I used to experience is just confirmation, to me, that I moved in the right direction. I reccomend you switch back as bending over to lift all of those plates is like doing an extra hundred squats, lifts, … with a hundred lbs. which will be the primary plates you will be working with if you stay with the workout. You will just plain tucker yourself out, stay sore and add a bunch of time to your recovery.

    Note to Pete: On your new machine you are designing, eliminating the pain I feel when doing over 2000, 3000 or more lbs. on leg extensions will get you a sale.

  • Answer to note: Yes. Hint: why configure a machine as if it needs to hold plates when it does not? 😉

  • Matt

    Hi Pete,
    It seems to me that if SCT makes someone stronger, then it makes them stronger in their full range of motion too – the muscle is now stronger – it’s not like the fibres are now saying “hey we’re a bit longer than usual, so we’re not going to utilise our new brethren fibres for this lift” 🙂

    So I’m not an expert, I consider Pete to be, but to the original poster, what you’re saying makes sense to me

    In my full range of motion bench press, my limit was 90kg.

    Now I’ve been doing a bit of SCT and PFT, gotten stronger, and I fully expect that if I did full range bench press I’d beat 90kg! If I didn’t, then “wtf” lol

  • Matt

    Workout 9 (20 days rest): 205kg peak, and then 77 reps of 105kg

    Now an interesting variation in this workout – those 77 reps were faster than normal perhaps, like I might have been hammering them out at a faster rhythm which may mean that its not comparing apples and apples with my workout #8 (otherwise I have to explain why I did 26% more reps – which is baffling because my chest muscles aren’t 26% bigger – so I don’t know how to explain the phenomenal increase in strength/reps)

    Maybe I need to put my iPhone on with earphones and put on a metronome app or some other beeping sound so that I can do each rep to a rhythm – this might make my comparisons more accurate.

    But yes, VERY HAPPY! 🙂

  • Rama

    Ringo, why do u need full range bench press? Do u intend to enter one of those weightlifting competitions where u HAVE to lift through a full range? Or is it because of peer pressure, that everybody is doing full range bench presses and you’d like to be “among them”?

  • Rama

    “How did he get so impressive using such light weights?”

    Well there are many reasons. First of all his diet could be in check, that he ate the right amount of protein and a precise amount of calories per day. Second of all, its genetics. Third, it could be steroids.

  • Rama

    Another thing I’d like to add is that using light weights can make you grow very well (in combination with diet + genetics + drugs), its just that using light weights often leads to training in a blind approach without counting weights or reps. And when you train in a blind approach and only go by “feel” you cant guarantee results. Even when you spend 500% more hours in the gym than you would doing SCT or PFT.

    I mean when I started lifting weights like every other newbie I went up to the jacked up guy with the most impressive muscular physique in the gym. Sure enough, he gave me advice. I followed his advice on training and diet to the letter and it failed for me. Sure I gained few pounds of muscle within several months (teenage growth + beginner gains helped a lot), but overtraining caught up really quick and I stopped making gains and the more hours I put in and the more days I go to the gym I felt more like crap day by day.

    The thing is, Wryley, you could be going up to the most jacked up guy in the gym for advice and you could be doing what he does to the letter, it doesnt mean you can be close to getting the muscular physique that guy has.

  • Leighan

    Hey everyone.

    I’m about to return to training after an 8 month lay off, and I was wondering what I should do when I first return to the gym. Would it be wise to do an initial break in period where I get my body back used to training again?

    I plan on performing the PFW so I could do this by starting low on the weight? I never got to try PFW before I began the lay-off so I have no idea what weight I can handle for what amount of reps yet anyway.

  • admin

    Hi! You might find that and 8 month layoff didn’t do much to diminish your strength. If you want to do Power Factor just start with one set per exercise and record your numbers. Shoot for a 10% increase each time and soon you’ll be in new territory. Have fun.

  • Rene Kittelsen


    I did my workout B the other day with tremendous joy!

    I even changed my lat exercise where the singlehand machine exercise not giving me the feeling I needed. So by switching to the lat barbell exercise I truly felt my lats working with 155 kg with 5 second hold at first attempt!

    Truly awesome! 🙂

    I’m currently battling out some discussionforums about traditional training vs SCT.
    Oh my what ignorance, but I got a question they can’t answer because of their fullrange training BS.

    The question:

    “How can you explain my progress from lifting 130 kg to 215 kg in my static chest exercise, and in the same time lifting 90 kg once in fullrange where I could just do 70 kg twice at the beginning, and on top of that 16 x 5 seconds holds (80 seconds, wow!) of HIT stimulanse in just 7 months?”

    Their baffeled and starting to talk about wonderland and stuff haha.

    Funny to say the least 🙂

  • igor

    I train every 16 days. Tell me how to insert a graph between workouts A and B otdelnye training of hands? Of A and B, I exercise for arms removed.

  • Rene Kittelsen

    Hello again 🙂

    Here is my current stats after my 6-7months og ONLY SCT:

    Workout A
    Abs 220
    Biceps 135
    Shoulders 308
    Traps 369
    Triceps 295

    Workout B
    Lats 341 barbell madness!
    Chest 473
    Back 550
    Calves 770
    Quads 770 one leg

    My biceps have not gotten enough rest without me realising it a little late, so the gain is not much from last measure, but with 5,5 cm increase in musclesize (+0,5 cm more!) how can I complain!

    Good gains all in all, and now understanding the full importance of enough rest, I will not be wasting more workouts because of to little recovery time.

    I have not been taking any other measurements unfortunatly, but I have to start now cause I’m want to be living proof that SCT works for my countrymen! And of course for the fun of convincing people who can’t see the real benefits from this.

    I’m probably going to open a SCT gym in honour of Pete and Greg and their people 🙂
    This is a perfect way to give others a better life, and I just can’t wait to make it happen!

    Sorry for being so over excited, but I can’t imagine my life without SCT now.
    It’s like when one hated training like I did, and then suddenly SCT appears (with a little help from a Tony Robbins CD) where I just love working my body. My life has really improved physically and mentally.

    Thanks for giving us a future with good health!

  • I don’t understand this question.

  • Peter

    Look at it this way, for a regulation bench press, a portion of the execution of a proper bench is coordination, limb & torso alignment, sufficient speed & acceleration….skill, in other words… all indispensable factors. So is muscular strength, and THAT is the ONLY factor in successful bench pressing (and any other task-specific skill) developed by static contraction training. So just how MUCH it (SCT) will enhance one’s bench press depends overwhelmingly on how developed or needy one may be in ALL the relevant factors. And guess what? To varying degrees depending on the sport, this is true for all sports. Rama and Pete had it right; train in the specific skills of powerlifting IF that’s your priority. But…you’ll ALSO be well advised to develop the STRENGTH portion of powerlifting’s successful execution via intelligent strength training…as exemplified by SCT.

  • I’m trying to come up with a measurement and formula for this. The basic idea is to know how many units of exercise you can recover from per day then measure your workouts in those units. If you recover at 100 units/day and your last workout was 1,700 units it would mean you need 17 days of rest.

    More info when I have it.

  • James Herried

    You say that you’ve never seen a lean, muscular physique that was built entirely by SCT? Well, you might interested to know that I went from 142 to 200 in a very short time,just by doing SCT alone. And nearly all of that weight was muscle. And I believe that in my case,SCT is the only way I could have accomplished that goal. I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted from doing the conventional weight-training exercises that use reps done with a full range of motion; even though I was doing the exercises properly, and using progressive overload (adding on more weight,from one workout to the next).

    I would like to emphasize,though, that the workout plan that I used to achieve that goal is actually a modified version of SCT;one that actually defines intensity correctly (as it relates to muscle-growth stimulation) for the first time in history, that I know of. I found that the correct definition for intensity was the missing piece of the puzzle, and had always been the missing piece of info that we needed in our quest for the ultimate workout plan;one that would indeed enable us to achieve “maximum intensity”, and thus build “maximum muscle in minimum time”. After all, how can you achieve maximum intensity (and thus maximum muscle growth) if you don’t know what intensity is? And once I found that correct definition for intensity, everything else fell into place, just like the pieces of a puzzle; without the contradictions and inconsistencies found in all other workout plans. I then applied that definition for intensity correctly to each of the motions that the human body can perform with weights, thereby enabling me to achieve maximum intensity (and thus maximum muscle growth) in all of the muscles that come into play for each of those motions. And the results I obtained are simply beyond the reach of those obtainable by conventional workout plans, that use reps and a full-range of motion.

    In fact, the results of this unique,two-pronged approach were so good that I wrote a book about the plan. And I wrote the book, simply because I believe that anyone who has something of great value to share has no right to keep it to himself!

  • James Herried

    How did he get so big using such light weights? Well, consider the fact the that reknowned bodybuilder Mike Mentzer had huge forearm muscles; yet he claimed that he seldom did any direct training for his forearm muscles. So how do you explain that? Genetics and steroids.

    And this brings to mind one of the biggest shortcomings of the book “The New Rules of Lifting”, by Lou Schuller. The author claims that you can build maximum muscle and fully develop your physique,simply by doing compound exercises alone. So he tells you to shun isolation exercises entirely (which he claims are a waste of time), saying that we should limit our weight-lifting to compound motions that he believes were commonly and naturally done by our Paleolithic ancestors. But what did our Paleolithic ancestors know about strength-training for the purpose of building muscle? I don’t think any of them were out to win the Mr. PaleOlympia Bodybuilding Competition were they?

    In any case, since there are no compound exercises that work the forearms, everyone who wants to build and develop their forearm muscles needs to do isolation exercises; unless you have the genetics of Mike Mentzer.

  • James Herried

    Whenever anyone tells me they are unhappy with their gains in muscle mass from their workout plan,I tell them the same thing that I tell everyone else who voices a similar concern:

    In order to build maximum muscle,you obviously need more than just high-intensity training (HIT);you need maximum intensity training! And in order to achieve maximum intensity, you need to know what intensity actually is, as it relates to weight-training and muscle-growth stimulation. You need a “working definition” for intensity, one that can readily be applied to each motion that you perform, so that you can indeed achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum muscle growth in the muscles that come into play for that particular motion.
    The problem is that no workout plan in history (that I know of), has ever fully defined intensity correctly. The correct definition for intensity has always been the missing piece of the puzzle that has eluded even the experts,thereby preventing us from developing the ultimate workout plan,one that would enable us to build “maximum muscle in minimum time”. Until now.

    The commonly accepted definition for intensity by experts is that “the intensity of a weight-lifting exercise is indicated by the percentage of your 1-rep max that you use for the exercise.” So simply stated, the more weight you use, the higher the intensity of the exercise. But this defintion for intensity is wrong, because it doesn’t take into account the fact that when you do reps, the intensity willl depend not only upon how much weight you use,but also how quickly or slowly you perform the reps. It also depends upon other factors that occur during the reps, in addition to the time-rate at which the rep is executed. So you will never achieve maximum intensity by using that definition alone. But amazingly, most experts still accept that definition as correct and valid! And unfortunately, they have most other people believing it too.

    So for anyone who comes to me with the goal of building maximum muscle, I first define intensity correctly for them. And then I tell them that the only way anyone can achieve maximum intensity is by doing static contractions, as in SCT. It’s impossible to achieve and sustain maximum intensity when doing reps of any kind. And that’s simply because whenever you do reps, the intensity of the exercise constantly fluctuates,often dropping down to zero. So SCT is the only way to go, if you want to build maximum muscle;especially “maximum muscle in minimum time”. However, the static contractions
    must be done using the correct definition for intensity to achieve that goal.

  • James Herried

    Thanks Mark! It’s great that you appreciate the knowledge that I have to share. And I have a lot more to share later.

  • James Herried

    Mark,it reminds me of a quote by Schopenhauer:

    All groundbreaking truths go through three phases:

    First, they are ridiculed.
    Second,they adamently condemned.
    Finally,they are accepted as self-evident.

    So it was with Copernicus and Galileo. And so it is with SCT.

  • James Herried

    In addition to what Pete Sisco has written in this article, another reason people are dissatisfied with their gains in muscle size compared with their gains in strength is this:

    Most people measure their gains in strength by how much weight they can handle for any given exercise. But doing so can be misleading, because the ultimate measure of strength is not how much weight you can use for the exercise, but how much “intensity” you can generate in the working muscles used for that exercise. So the higher your level of intensity is for the exercise, the greater your strength is for that exercise, and the greater the muscle growth. So:


    Of course, the amount of weight you use is important for achieving maximum intensity; and you want to use the principle of progressive overload, and gradually use and progress to the heaviest weights possible.
    But the amount of weight you use is not the only determinant of intensity and muscle growth. If it were, powerlifters would be the most muscular people around. But that’s not always the case. Because it’s not just “how much” weight that you use that’s important for achieving maximum intensity (or even high intensity); it’s how you go about “using” the weight to achieve the highest level of intensity possible that’s also important in your endeavor to achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum muscle growth.

    And that brings us to one significant difference between my approach to strength training (including SCT) and that of most other trainers: for maximum growth of any muscle, most people recommend that you choose the exercise that enables you to use the greatest amount of weight possible. But I recommend instead that you choose the exercise that enables you to achieve the highest level of “intensity” possible, so that you can achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum growth in the muscle(s) used for that exercise. And maximum weight and maximum intensity don’t always go hand in hand. The bench press is a good example of that, as I explain in detail in my book (never published or made available), and I will on my blog (once I get it going).

    So if maximum muscle growth is your goal, you’re better off choosing an exercise that enables you to achieve maximum intensity, even if it requires that you start out with lighter weights, than you are doing an exercise that enables you to use heavier weights, but does not enable you to achieve maximum intensity.

    Bottom line: the ultimate measure of strength is intensity, not how much weight you can lift or hold in place. So again:


  • Any discussion of intensity should specify the duration of time of that intensity. The weight you lift to generate maximum intensity for 5 seconds is a lot more than what you lift for maximum intensity over 30 seconds. That’s why I measure both momentary and sustained intensity. (PF and PI)

    If a person progresses from X intensity for 30 seconds to 2X intensity for 30 seconds, that’s Alpha Strength gain.

    If a person progresses from X intensity for 30 seconds to the same X intensity for 45 seconds he is still stronger and that’s Beta Strength gain.

  • James Herried

    Thanks Pete,

    I always welcome your insight and always have, going all the way back to when I first read your books Power Factor Factor Training and Static Contraction Training. In fact, those books inspired and motivated me to write my own book, not about the Power Factor approach, but about SCT.

    But I used a different definition for intensity from the one your use, in regards to strength-training and muscle growth stimulation; so the SCT exercises in the workout plan I wrote about are significantly different from the SCT exercises that you recommend in your workout plans. The defintion I used is more similar to the one John Little uses in his book Max Contraction Training,although I wrote my book just before his book came out.

    In any case, that helps explain why I wrote what I did in my post explaining that the amount of “intensity” generated, not the amount of weight used, is the ultimate measure of strength, and thus muscle growth. And to prove that in my book, I used an example of the the eccentric phase of the biceps curl done two different ways: one with a heavier weight, and one with a lighter weight;with the latter achieving a higher level of intensity and strength, and thus muscle growth than the former, in spite of the lighter weight,simply because the weights are used differently.

    I also used the concepts “instantaneous” intensity (same as momentary intensity) ,”sustained” intensity and “overall” intensity in my book, to explain why maximum intensity can only be achieved and sustained when doing static contractions, and not when doing reps of any kind.

  • John

    Pete… came across this…

    You and the author of the site would disagree a bit on things I’m sure…but this study threw

    me . The idea is that “effort” not the amount of force is what determines muscle


    I have a little bit of an issue with this..I’m wondering if the guys who did this study aren’t being

    paid off or something.. perhaps sarcoplasmic or something is responsible if there is such..idk. I

    have to admit I only read the article not the pdf of the study so there may be something I’m

    missing but I just reacted after reading the website…

  • John

    I guess this is an excerp of the pdf…

    “The size principle states that motor units are recruited in an orderly manner from the smaller (lower threshold) to the larger (higher threshold) motor units, and that the recruitment is dependent on the effort of the activity. Greater recruitment produces higher muscular force. However, the pervasive faulty assumption that maximal or near maximal force (very heavy resistance) is required for recruitment of the higher-threshold motor units and optimal strength gains is not supported by the size principle, motor unit activation studies, or resistance training studies. This flawed premise has resulted in the unsubstantiated heavier-is-better recommendation for resistance training.”

    I have issues with this…..

  • I’ll look at this when I have a minute, but here is the problem I have with measuring by “effort.” Your ‘effort’ when you have just eaten dinner is less than it is before dinner. And when you have the flu your ‘effort’ is even less. Total effort when you’re tired and sick is not going to build new muscle. I prefer a less subjective measurement.

  • John

    thanks pete…

    exactly. I don’t understand how weight would be less important to the equation. At least some

    in the comment section on that site called BS.. Just like what you found in “workout variations

    revealed”, people were still able to do static lifts after full range “max effort”…

  • John

    Btw, when I click on News or Training up top it say I have to be registered for access..what do I do

  • Fixed. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Hi John,

    I regards to the study you posted from

    I would replace the word “effort” with the word “intensity”. And if intensity is actually what they mean by effort,then yes, I would agree that effort, not force is the ultimate determinant of muscle growth stimulation. BUt I don’t know if that’s what they mean, and i don’t like the word effort, because it’s not specific enough. I prefer the word intensity.

    Force, or more specifially the resistance that the muscles are working against,is certainly a big factor in triggering the muscle growth process. But it’s ultimately the amount of “intensity” that you generate that determines muscles growth. And the resistance (or force) that you work against, as important as it is, isn’t the only determinant of intensity. There are other factors that come into play also,in regarads to intensity.

    In any case, this isn’t really controversial or new for me, because I actually wrote about this in my SCT training book 9 years ago. But I never published the book, even though it got a lot of attention on amazon, when I introduced some of the concepts there years ago.

  • Blackthorne

    There appears to be two definitions on *Intensity*.

    The first definition is by Mike Mentzer. He defined Intensity as – “the percentage of possible momentary muscular effort being exerted”.

    I agree. While I’m not currently aware of any affordable scientific device that can measure the intensity of the muscles DURING their contraction, I’m am aware that we don’t really need such a device. Why? Allow Mike Mentzer to explain…….

    – “Finally, we get to the last possible rep, which requires a maximum, all-out effort. You are gritting your teeth, shaking all over and you’re barely able to complete the rep. That would be the only rep of the set which is said to require literally 100 percent intensity of effort.”

    Perfect explanation. That final rep, in which you literally cannot do another one, is most certainly an accurate measure of “muscular” intensity. I mean, you KNOW that its your true 100% maximum effort, so how can it not be measurable?

    This is also true when doing Static Holds. Anyone who truly wants the most stimulation, will continue to hold the static until they no longer are able to. So in this instance, it would be the final second of the hold, in the which your strength is literally at its MAX and then starts to decline (muscular failure). The last second of that static hold would essentially be equivalent to the last rep of a (full range of motion) set carried to failure.

    So that sums up what could be called the definition of *Intensity* for *metabolic* work at least.

    The other definition is summed up by Pete Sisco when he states – “Intensity can be measured by knowing the amount of weight you lift in a unit of time.”

    While this doesn’t necessarily factor in sheer muscular (or metabolic) effort, it does indeed factor in Mechanical work done, which is extremely important if you wish to train without a blindfold. Mike Mentzer used this method as well, primary difference being he used full range of motion. But he still measured the amount of weight lifted in a unit of time (TUL). By the way, Mentzer did incorporate statics also, even more so in his final years.

    So I guess to sum it up, Mentzer defined Intensity on a Metabolic scale, while Sisco defines it on a Mechanical scale. Is there is a conflict? Not really. Both men are….

    (1) – Measuring workload (while pushing the muscles to their limits)
    (2) – Increasing intensity per workout.
    (3) – Increasing rest days per workout.

    How many other trainers in this world do all three (ESPECIALLY the third one)? Well…..Mentzer is dead……so Pete is the only one!

  • Here’s why I disagree with Mike and the others who use subjective measurements. Your perceived momentary effort means NOTHING. If your last bench press workout generated 10,000 lbs per minute of intensity and today’s bench press workout went to absolute failure + caused you to shake and shudder + plus felt like no other effort in your life + impressed your girlfriend – BUT – it was objectively only 7,000 lbs per minute of intensity it built ZERO new muscle. Zero. Despite meeting all those subjective criteria. (This happens all the time because of overtraining, lack of rest, bad diet, stress, illness, and on and on. You try really hard but you are weaker than you were.)

    Why a guy who respected Ayn Rand so much and used the word ‘objective’ every chance he could would endorse a subjective, touchy-feely method of quantifying intensity is a total mystery to me.

    Ever since 1687 the lifting of mass has been objectively quantifiable and there is no reason whatsoever to not use simple arithmetic to measure the intensity of weightlifting in units per second or minute. That is the way to guarantee progressive overload. Objective progressive overload instead of perceived overload.

  • Blackthorne

    @ Pete SIsco

    Mike didn’t believe that anything that exists in reality is subjective (and there is only one reality!). So while you said that 100% of momentary effort is subjective, he believed that it was totally the opposite. For example, is the last rep of a set carried to failure the muscles absolute limit? Yes. Is that objective? Yes. Why? Because you literally cannot do another rep.

    – Mike said: “A few individuals have raised the intelligent question as to whether it is actually necessary to train to failure, where 100 percent intensity of effort is required to complete a rep, in order to stimulate growth. For instance, maybe only 67, 85 or 92 percent intensity of effort is all that is required. The problem here would be one in measuring intensity. The fact that there are only two accurate measures of intensity – 0 percent, when at complete rest, and 100 percent, when exerting oneself maximally – makes it necessary that you train to failure. So long as you are exerting yourself with 100 percent intensity of effort you have passed through every possible break-over point, and growth will be stimulated.”

    Where does the confusion come into play? I believe its the following……..

    When you said: “If your last bench press workout generated 10,000 lbs per minute of intensity and today’s bench press workout went to absolute failure + caused you to shake and shudder + plus felt like no other effort in your life + impressed your girlfriend – BUT – it was objectively only 7,000 lbs per minute of intensity it built ZERO new muscle”

    Mike would have said: “To begin with, the workout itself never *builds* new muscle. In other words, that 7,000 lbs per minute serves only as a stimulus. Its the rest days in between that build new muscle. IF you rested long enough to allow for full recovery and overcompensation, then you will automatically be generating higher pounds per minute. BUT, if you don’t attempt that last, almost impossible rep, how can you be 100 percent sure that you stimulated growth? If your already stronger, then why not just do the first rep, and sit the bar back down on the floor, never attempting a second, third, or fourth rep, etc? I mean, your stronger right? So why even bother? Just do the first rep, and stop there! (of course I’m being sarcastic)”

    Mike is not trying to say that “gritting your teeth and shaking all over” is objective criteria. We must understand that he’s using that analogy to make sure that we understand what he’s talking about when he refers to the last, almost impossible rep. He’s not in any way, shape or fashion trying to say that “touchy-feely” is a requirement. Again, he’s merely trying to meet many people where they are, getting down to their level of understanding so that they know exactly what he means by “training to failure” (because some people associate training to failure with “gritting their teeth”, so he trying to reach that crowd by getting down to their level of understanding)

    Besides, when you said: “Objective progressive overload instead of perceived overload.”

    That’s exactly what Mike was doing with his clients. When they attempted that final rep, and he literally saw that they were the same, or weaker, he immediately increased the rest days! To quote the man himself

    – “I will not tolerate ONE workout with lack of progress. If I see there’s no progress, I stop, analyze what I’m doing, and make the appropriate changes. If your not making progress, then your ether (A) Not training intensely enough, and/or (B) Doing too many sets, and/or (C) doing too many workouts.”

  • Question: Why didn’t Mike, Arthur, et al measure intensity with NUMBERS instead of things like ‘go to failure’ and ‘100% effort’? If intensity is so critical (and it is!) why not be more exact?

    What advantage does using no numbers have? Would you measure the intensity of a lightbulb by ‘bright,’ ‘really bright’ and ‘makes you squint’??? (Or are lumens, candlepower and watts superior?)

    And just to be clear, going to absolute failure means nothing when you are too tired or too ill to surpass your previous intensity scores. (Alpha and/or Beta intensity.)

  • Blackthorne

    –“Question: Why didn’t Mike, Arthur, et al measure intensity with NUMBERS instead of things like ‘go to failure’ and ’100% effort’? If intensity is so critical (and it is!) why not be more exact?”

    I’ve always thought that measuring the TUL + Weight is pretty darn exact. I mean, if you did 565lbs on the Deadlift for 60 seconds, and you couldn’t do 61 seconds if someone put a gun to your head, then training to failure is pretty darn accurate measure of what your capable of. No guess work involved. No feelings involved. Its very objective.

    When you said – “And just to be clear, going to absolute failure means nothing when you are too tired or too ill to surpass your previous intensity scores. (Alpha and/or Beta intensity.)”

    Mike would agree. However, unless we have a machine or a vision from God that tells us the exact day in which to train again, then your going to train to failure regardless of whether your stronger or not. In other words, training with maximum effort is extremely important because its the ONLY way to know if your stronger or not when compared to your last workout.

    For example, if you trained to failure, and 10 reps was your peak for your last workout, how the heck are you going to know your stronger (or not) if you only try 10 reps on your next workout? Wouldn’t it be logical to train to failure again, in hopes that your TUL increases, or if you added weight, then hoping that your TUL at least is the same? And if there’s no increase, then you add rest days, just like with SCT. Its just common sense.

  • john

    My point was you really can’t apply maximum intensity by doing submax weight.

    I mean isn’t it weight that determines intensity? I realize doing other things like shortening rest and slowing tempo makes it more intense than blasting speed reps or longer rest. But really when we’re lifting what is taking place?

    A muscle contracts against force. Even if you’re just raising your arm to scratch your head…your shoulder muscle is contracting against the weight of your arm. So then what sense does it make to lift less weight?… just to move a weight? Why not just contract against the most weight you can, i.e. static?

    If you want to make the argument for sarco vs. myofib then that’s fine with me..I don’t know enough about that to argue back or agree but regardless lifting higher weight is key to everything.
    Why wait so long to get to failure?

  • James Herried

    I posted a comment about the study posted by John, but I forgot to leave my name; so it’s posted as Anonymous”. And here’s more that I have to say about it:

    The study says that “It is the amount of effort, NOT the amount of force, that determines the degree of muscle fiber motor activation.”

    This statement is incorrect, because obviously the greater the force (resistance) that the muscle has to work against, the more effort is required of the muscle to accomplish the task at hand. It’s true that the amount of force isn’t the only factor that would heighten the amount of effort expended by the muscle; but it definitely does have an effect on both the amount of effort expended and the degree of muscle fiber activation.

    And how could it not have any effect? Obviously, holding a 70 lb. weight in place for 1 second, with your arm bent at a 90 degree angle, requires more effort and a greater degree of muscle fiber activation than does holding a 50 lb. weight in place the same way; otherwise, the heavier weight would drop to the ground, if you didn’t have that extra muscle fiber activation to hold it in place.

    So the greater the force (resistance) that the muscle has to work against, the more effort is required of the muscle,and thus the greater the muscle fiber activation would be. And that alone proves this study wrong, at least in this regard

    As I stated in another comment, “intensity” , not the amount of effort, is the ultimate determinant of the degree of muscle fiber activation, and thus the degree of muscle growth stimulation. And although you need to expend more effort “per given unit of time” to achieve a higher level of intensity, intensity and amount of effort are not the same.

  • Any discussion of intensity has to involve time. (That’s a good litmus test for whether a person understands the concept, by the way.)

    How intense is your lifting over 5 seconds? (That’s the Static Contraction time frame. With a fixed time the weight is always the measure of increased intensity.)

    How intense is your lifting over 90 seconds? For people who do multiple reps they need to measure total weight divided by time. Over 90 seconds the heaviest weight you can lift – your 1-rep max – does not score the highest intensity because you can only lift it one. If you lift half that weight 10 times in 90 seconds it’s a much higher intensity.

    99% of people whom I hear talk about HIT don’t understand the role of time and therefore guess at intensity. A lot of them are stuck on “effort” instead of doing the work of some simple calculations. I’m just glad they don’t build airplanes for a living. Haha!

  • James Herried

    John, the amount of weight that you use, or more specifically the “amount of resistance” the muscle works against, does determine the intensity.

    But resistance isn’t the only determinant of intensity. There are other factors that come into play as well. In fact, you mentioned one of them: when you do reps, the time-rate at which you execute the reps definitely has an effect on the intensity.

    And in addition to the amount of weight used ( or resistance) and the time-rate at which you execute the reps (if you do reps), there are other factors that effect the intensity, ones that are almost always overlooked; which is why almost nobody ever achieves maximum intensity. And you wouldn’t know about those factors just by knowing Mike Mentzer’s definition for intensity, which is too general, and not specific enough for practical application.

    In fact, incomplete definitions like the one offered by Mentzer is what motivated me to come up with a new definition for intensity, one that would enable me to actually achieve maximum intensity, and maximum muscle growth in minimum time. And that new definition for intensity worked so well for that purpose that I wrote a book about it, and about SCT. But I never did publish the book.

  • John

    I guess the question I have is then…and my bad if I’m missing something.

    …What’s the degree of recruitment of fibers with lighter weights to failure? I realize maybe no one can answer this..

    For most people it wouldn’t be as near to 100% as partial reps or a static hold with near max or max weight..

    The majority of people would be able to do a static set right after a full-range set(s), so the intensity and growth stimulation wouldn’t be as much it seems. I mean I can lift a coke can 1000 times for 3 sets to failure but that wouldn’t build muscle. At what percentage of max weight does stimulation begin?
    I know that perhaps it changes from person to person and maybe no body knows for sure..

    But FitnessBlackBook thinks any weight to failure stimulates growth..makes no sense…

  • I always want to ask the guys who speak with certainty about fiber recruitment whether they are doing tissue biopsies after every workout to know what physical changes are occurring in their muscles.

    You’re right about being able to lift a heavier weight statically right after ‘going to failure’ with full range reps. YOu can read about in the free e-booklet Workout Variations Revealed, available on this site.

    We also did this:

  • John

    I’ve done workouts with short rest and full range and thought I would throw up with muscles shaking and all and still able to do statics…maybe not much as if I was fresh but still able to do them.. maybe that’s me though.

    That tells me that lower weight, as intense as it may seem by adjusting speed and rest and whatever else doesn’t cause the stimulation that going heavy does..

  • Blackthorne

    [Quote=”Pete Sisco] “99% of people whom I hear talk about HIT don’t understand the role of time and therefore guess at intensity. A lot of them are stuck on “effort” instead of doing the work of some simple calculations. I’m just glad they don’t build airplanes for a living. Haha!” [/quote]

    Those very same people don’t understand HIT to begin with. They are so focused on “effort” that they completely ignore frequency. In fact, I’ll never forget what one of those type of guys said to me. He literally said QUOTE – “The hardest thing for me to do is NOT train” – end quote. That just blew my mind. He was basically admitting that he was an addict. And right then and there, I realized the reason for his 12 year plateau even though he was WILLFULLY blind to it. Sad thing is, he had read just about everything that both you and Mentzer wrote on frequency, and still kept complaining – “But, but, training once every 2 weeks or less is not natural” -. And my stock reply would be “If your body requires that amount of time, then how can it not be natural?”

    Anyway, to those on here who are still confused as to what the actual *stimulus* is, please read the following, as I cannot improve upon what this man said.

    QUOTE = Mike Mentzer – “Let’s assume, hypothetically, that you can curl a 100 pound barbell for a maximum of ten reps to failure. Obviously, the first rep of that set would be the easiest, the one requiring the least intensity of effort. That first rep does fatigue you slightly, however; which is why the second rep is somewhat harder to complete, requiring a more intense effort than did the first. Whereas the first rep may require on the order of 8-10 percent intensity of effort to complete, the second rep may require closer to 15 or 20 percent intensity. The second rep tires you even further, and the third rep is harder, more intense, still. Without belaboring the issue, you know that’s how it proceeds with each successive rep of the set, each becomes progressively harder to complete, each requiring a higher intensity of effort than did the preceding. Finally, we get to the last possible rep in this case, the tenth one, which requires a maximum, all-out effort. You are gritting your teeth, shaking all over and you’re barely able to complete the rep. That would be the only rep of the set which is said to require literally 100 percent intensity of effort.

    Now I ask you: WHICH repetition of that set is the most likely to stimulate a strength and size increase, the first, which is the least intense, or the last, the only one requiring 100 percent intensity of effort? Yes, of course – the last!

    Another question. If you were actually able to curl a 100 pound barbell for a maximum of 10 reps to failure and, for some reason, you only ever just performed the first rep of the set and then placed the bar right back down on the floor at that point would you ever grow? No. Because the intensity of the stress on your body wouldn’t be sufficiently “threatening” to the physiology to cause, or warrant, an adaptive response, i.e., a strength and size increase. (Nor could you obtain a suntan sitting in front of a 100-watt light bulb. I don’t care how long you sit there or how much phosphagain suntan lotion you rub all over. Nature requires, fundamentally, as a first cause, the presence of a high-intensity sunlight stress.)

    Executing that last, almost impossible rep causes the body to dip into its reserve ability. Since it only has a small amount of this reserve to draw upon before depletion occurs, the body protects itself from future assaults on its reserves by enlarging upon its existing ability through the compensatory build-up of more muscle mass.

    Only high-intensity training can force the body to resort to its reserve ability sufficiently to stimulate an adaptive response in the form of a muscle mass increase. Repeating tasks that are well within your existing capacity do nothing to stimulate growth. Ending a set before failure, just because an arbitrary number of reps have been completed, simply will not induce growth.

    Carrying a set to the point where you are forced to utilize 100 percent of your momentary muscular ability is the single most important factor in increasing strength and size. Working to a point of momentary muscular failure, where another rep is impossible despite your greatest effort, ensures that you pass through the “break-over” point, or that point in the set, below which you go, and growth will not be stimulated and, above which, growth will be stimulated. (Even the detractors of high-intensity training theory are forced to admit that the last rep of a set to failure would be the most productive one; thus, without realizing it, have embraced the first principle of the theory.)” – END QUOTE

    Only a misled or foolish person would claim that the first rep of a set carried to failure is better than the last. Or the first second of a static hold is better than the last (ie; the point in which you can no longer hold the weight). Its common sense folks!

  • Blackthorne

    [QUOTE=John] “I’ve done workouts with short rest and full range and thought I would throw up with muscles shaking and all and still able to do statics…maybe not much as if I was fresh but still able to do them.. maybe that’s me though.

    That tells me that lower weight, as intense as it may seem by adjusting speed and rest and whatever else doesn’t cause the stimulation that going heavy does..” [End Quote]

    This was addressed by Mike Mentzer at one time. He was completely against the idea of training to the point of throwing up. I myself would agree. I’ve heard about these types so-called “HIT’ers”. I would refer to them as macho-knuckleheads. I’ve trained to muscular failure most of my life, and I’ve never felt the urge to throw up.

    The “shaking” during a set, is just an analogy that Mike was using to get the point across. Its basically that “trembling” that your joints encounter when your performing a maximum effort during, for example, a static hold. Look at the following video……

    Notice during the Bench Press and Leg Press demo that – while exerting maximum effort – his joints are trembling slightly. THAT is what naturally occurs during that last almost impossible rep, or during a properly performed static hold. The human joints will never tremble when a person is doing namby-pamby, light/easy lifting that requires anything less than their best effort.

    And regarding high reps with light weight, Mentzer was totally against that (unless your a newbie who misjudged the weight). He said, “too many reps can lead to labored breathing and could prevent you from continuing the exercise until muscular failure is reached.” That suggestion is perfectly logical. I mean, the man himself said that “Bodybuilding is not aerobics! Bodybuilding is not an endurance contest!”.

  • James Herried

    Also, that study implies that “maximum effort”, or more specifically “maximum effort per unit of time” (although the time factor isn’t mentioned isn’t the study, even though it should be) leads to maximum muscle growth.

    But the only way you can achieve maximum muscle growth is by generating maximum intensity. And to achieve that, you need to use the correct definition for intensity.

    And just because you expend maximum effort, or even “maximum effort per unit of time” doesn’t mean you have maximum intensity. Because as I stated previously, intensity and effort, or even “effort exerted per unit of time”, are not the same.

    In fact, you could have a maximum degree of effort ( or even a maximum degree of “effort per unit of time”) and reach failure, but still not even being close to achieving maximum intensity.

  • James Herried

    John, you’re right; it doesn’t make sense to believe that any amount of weight taken to failure will trigger muscle growth. And it isn’t true.

    But that’s exactly what the study you posted implies. And the reason the authors of the study are believing this erroneous information is probably because they’re confusing “effort” with “intensity”.

    True, effort is required for intensity to occur; and you obviously have to make more of an effort to achieve a higher level of intensity. But intensity and effort are not the same. And, in fact, I doubt that the authors of this study even knew what intensity is, or even understood the crucial role that intensity plays in the process of muscle growth stimulation..

    What does cause muscle growth is this: subjecting the muscle to a higher level of “intensity” than what the muscle is currently accustomed to. This triggers a process that causes the muscle to grow bigger and stronger, in order to adapt to that higher level of intensity. And going to failure isn’t required to achieve that. Furthermore, going to failure doesn’t necessarily mean you have achieved that goal.

    And the intensity that I’m referring to here is NOT the same as “intensity of effort” (i.e. the amount of effort exerted per unit of time), a term which has been used by FitnessBlackBook.

  • James Herried

    Let’s take a closer look at Mike Mentzer’s definition for intensity, as it relates to strength-training and muscle growth stimulation:

    “Intensity is the percentage of possible momentary muscular effort being exerted”.

    Surprisingly, this doesn’t even define intensity, because it doesn’t really tell us what intensity is.
    All this “definition” really tells us is that in order to achieve a higher level of intensity, we need to exert more muscular effort.

    Ok, obviously you need to exert more muscular effort to generate a higher level of intensity. But the effort required to generate that level of intensity is not the same as the intensity itself; because as I stated on other comments, effort and intensity are not the same.

    Interestingly, this definition by Mentzer actually goes along with the conclusion arrived at in the study cited from FitnessBlackBook, saying that the degree of “effort” exerted is the ultimate determinant of muscle growth stimulation.

    In other words, what Mike Mentzer is saying is that “the more muscular effort you exert in the moment, the higher the level of the intensity”. Or did he mean to say that “the higher the level of the intensity, the more muscular effort you have to exert in the moment”?

    I actually prefer the latter; but either way, Mentzer’s definition doesn’t tell us what intensity actually is. It just tells us that you have to exert more effort to generate more intensity. So his definition is pretty useless when it comes to practical application, and you’ll probably never achieve “maximum intensity” by using it.

    And not surprisingly, none of the exercises in MIke Mentzer’s books will enable you to achieve maximum intensity. But then that’s true of almost all of the books out there.

  • James Herried


    I’m using a totally different definition for intensity from the one you’re using, so that explains the confusion here. It also explains why you think I’m contradicting myself when I’m not at all.

    In fact, the SCT workout plan that I developed and wrote about years ago is one of the very few that I know of that contains absolutely no contradictions or inconsistencies inherent within the plan. And I attribute that to the fact that I used the correct definition for intensity as a foundation for the plan. Once I found that correct definition for intensity, every else fell into place, like the pieces of a puzzle. And the correct definition for intensity was, for a very long time, the “missing piece of the puzzle” that I needed. But I never could’ve come up with that workout plan by using Mike Mentzer’s definition for intensity. That’s for sure.

    In any case, you would need to read my book to understand where I’m coming from and the logic I’m using, when I make comments on this site.

  • James Herried


    I don’t dislike Mike Mentzer. In fact, I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for him. I was just analyzing the definition he supposedly gave for intensity; that’s all. That has nothing to do with him personally.

    Also, working out the way Mike Mentzer recommended is certainly better than following most of the other workout plans out there; and it’s certainly better than not working out at all!

    I just don’t believe that you can achieve maximum intensity by following his definition for intensity. But Mike Mentzer himself didn’t need to achieve maximum intensity anyway. He had had the genetics and the steroids to get the body he wanted, regardless of what workout plan he followed.

  • Blackthorne

    [QUOTE=”James Herried”] “it doesn’t make sense to believe that any amount of weight taken to failure will trigger muscle growth. And it isn’t true.” [/QUOTE]

    That’s because its not possible to take “any amount of weight” to failure. If the weight is too light, then your muscles will not be able to go to generate maximum effort because labored breathing and/or waste products will build up and prevent failure from occurring. The painful pump alone will stop you from reaching failure if the labored breathing does not.

    [QUOTE=”James Herried”] “What does cause muscle growth is this: subjecting the muscle to a higher level of “intensity” than what the muscle is currently accustomed to. This triggers a process that causes the muscle to grow bigger and stronger, in order to adapt to that higher level of intensity. And going to failure isn’t required to achieve that. Furthermore, going to failure doesn’t necessarily mean you have achieved that goal.” [/QUOTE]

    If maximum effort (failure) is unimportant, then take your 10 rep max on the Curl (for example) and merely do the first rep, and then set the bar back down on the floor, never attempting a second, third, or fourth rep.

    Or rather, take your 5-10 second static hold, and only hold it for 1 second, or even “better”, do the first 0.005 seconds, and then stop. Don’t go all the way because intensity of effort does not matter……..right?

    To quote Mentzer “If you believe that the first rep of a set carried to failure is better than the last, then you have something very wrong with you”.

    I’m not trying to insult you, but what your suggesting is only going to confuse readers of these comments who are not critical thinkers. In fact, your very statement is a contradiction. You basically agreed with Mike Mentzer, then you disagreed with your own agreement. You said –

    QUOTE – “What does cause muscle growth is this: subjecting the muscle to a higher level of “intensity” than what the muscle is currently accustomed to. This triggers a process that causes the muscle to grow bigger and stronger, in order to adapt to that higher level of intensity.” – END QUOTE.

    And then you contradict that statement by saying –

    QUOTE “And going to failure isn’t required to achieve that. Furthermore, going to failure doesn’t necessarily mean you have achieved that goal.” – END QUOTE”.

    Going to failure DOES subject the muscle to a higher level of Intensity than it is accustomed to.

    “Executing that last, almost impossible rep causes the body to dip into its reserve ability. Since it only has a small amount of this reserve to draw upon before depletion occurs, the body protects itself from future assaults on its reserves by enlarging upon its existing ability through the compensatory build-up of more muscle mass.

    Only high-intensity training can force the body to resort to its reserve ability sufficiently to stimulate an adaptive response in the form of a muscle mass increase. –Repeating tasks that are well within your existing capacity do nothing to stimulate growth.– Ending a set before failure, just because an arbitrary number of reps have been completed, simply will not induce growth.”

    But if you really believe that training with a high level of effort is bogus, then by all means, take your 10 rep max and only do 1 rep with it. And prove to all of us that doing so will stimulate growth.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to anger or insult you. I’m trying to get a point across that really should be common sense to everybody.

    [QUOTE=”James Herried”]”Let’s take a closer look at Mike Mentzer’s definition for intensity, as it relates to strength-training and muscle growth stimulation:

    “Intensity is the percentage of possible momentary muscular effort being exerted”.

    Surprisingly, this doesn’t even define intensity, because it doesn’t really tell us what intensity is.
    All this “definition” really tells us is that in order to achieve a higher level of intensity, we need to exert more muscular effort. ” [/QUOTE]

    Seriously? Of course Mike Mentzer defines Intensity. Notice what he says, and what he does NOT say. He clearly says “Intensity”. He does not say “Low” or “Moderate” or “High” Intensity. He only says Intensity, period. Then he goes on to say that Intensity IS the “percentage” of effort being exerted. In other words, the “percentage” will tell you whether or not your level of “Intensity” is high, low, or moderate. That definition is crystal clear. In fact, it cannot be any more clear!

    And fitnessblackbook using a similar definition means nothing. Please don’t associate their knuckleheaded system of chronic overtraining with Mike’s system which is sensible, logical, and rational. It appears that you (and possibly a few others on here) dislike Mike. I find that rather strange considering that he and Pete are pretty much on the same page. Both of them use (1) Very Intense, (2) Very Brief, and (3) Very Infrequent workouts. The only real difference between them is a few derivative points that don’t effect the results of the workouts. So what if Pete defines Intensity on a Mechanical Scale while Mike defines it on a Metabolic scale? They both take ACCURATE measurements for each and every exercise performed, and they both increase rest days when gains start to slow. So all this strange dislike for Mentzer is really ridiculous. In fact, if he were alive today, he and Pete would probably be great friends, and great friends don’t always agree on every single tangential point.

  • James Herried


    If what I’m writing is confusing to you, it’s probably because you’re being blinded by Mike Mentzer’s definition for intensity, which is not the correct definition for intensity.

    As I explained, he doesn’t really even define intensity with that “definition”, because he doesn’t tell us what intensity actually is! He basically just points out the correlation that exists between the amount of “momentary, muscular effort being exerted” and the level of intensity being generated. But that doesn’t specify what intensity is; so Mentzer’s definition can’t be applied practically, specifically or accurately, so as to achieve maximum intensity in your workouts.

    I wrote a book on SCT nine years ago, and I defined intensity correctly,specifically and accurately in that book. And unlike Mentzer’s definition, the definition I used in that book tells you what intensity actually is.

    Furthermore, the definition I used in the book can be readily and easily applied to any motion that you can perform with weights, so as to achieve maximum intensity in all of the muscles used for each of those motions. Good luck trying to accomplish that with Mike Mentzer’s definition. It just won’t happen.

    The problem is that you haven’t read my book, so you aren’t familiar with the definition for intensity that I used for the exercises in the book. Nor are you familiar with the SCT workout plan that I wrote about in the book. And that’s because I never published the book.

    So just be aware of the fact that I’m viewing things from a different perspective from you; because I know both my book and the workout plan and the info it contains, plus I’ve read all of Mike Mentzer’s books and writings. So I’ve compared both my definition for intensity and my workout plan with Mike Mentzer’s. And if you were to read my book, you would see things in a different light.

  • Blackthorne


    Good grief mate. This discussion reminds me of Pete Sisco’s post entitled “Strength Training on Facebook is Killing me”.

    I’m stunned as to how you continue to say that Mentzer’s definition is not a definition. Yet he actually says that the definition of the actual word *Intensity* = THE actual percentage of effort being exerted (ie; high intensity could be 100% of your momentary effort if you train to failure. Low Intensity could be 0% if you don’t lift the weight at all). How is that not a definition? So when the dictionary states that Saturday is “the seventh day of the week” you’ll slam that too, and say “that’s not a definition!”. At this point, I’m going to assume that your ether reading his words through your own bias of a personal filter, or that his wording is just too complex to be grasped for some people.

    [QUOTE] “I just don’t believe that you can achieve maximum intensity by following his definition for intensity. But Mike Mentzer himself didn’t need to achieve maximum intensity anyway. He had had the genetics and the steroids to get the body he wanted, regardless of what workout plan he followed. {/QUOTE]

    Just because you don’t believe it, doesn’t mean its not true. Maybe you should contact Steve Sellers from Canada. He trains people both with Full-Range and Statics, and one of his clients Karl Grey was Deadlifting 740 for 3 reps to failure, using a 4/4 cadence. He was training once every 90 days at this point (Deadlifting once every 180 days) and training any sooner stopped his progress. So your basically saying that Karl was not generating enough intensity simply because he was following Mike’s definition of intensity.

    I can guarantee you that when I train to failure, whether via statics, or full range, that my muscles are exerting themselves with maximum intensity of effort. How can you claim they are not? I mean I cannot do another rep even with a gun to my head for goodness sakes, yet your saying “that’s still not maximum effort”. Wow……

    And just because Mike used steroids does not mean that he could train however he wanted. That’s nonsense. All steroids do (primarily anyways) is boost the body’s *Recover Ability* beyond natural levels to enable more frequent (and higher volume) training. In other words, you still have to train. Besides, I know of people who overtraining so badly, that even steroids did not help them grow. They were still plateaued.

    Besides, you’ve basically already claimed that Intensity of Effort is not important. The first rep is better than the last, right? That idea right there basically proves that I’ll never be able to have a sensible conversation with you on strength training. Just do the first 0.0005 seconds of your 5-10 second max hold and nothing more, because intensity doesn’t matter 🙂

    So at this point, I’m done here. Just forget it and lets move on, ok?

  • Peter Simon

    I’m writing from Hungary. I recently started SCT. It seems that now 1 week pause is not enough.
    What would be if I divide A program A1 and A2, and B program also? And I work out A1, A2, B1, B2 with 1 week pause between. I get half of training load, so I can train once every week. Is it a good strategy?


  • Hi Peter. Is there a reason you MUST train once per week? It’s simpler to do A – rest 10 days – do B – rest 10 days – do A, etc. When your progress slows down change the 10 days to 14 days, then 20 days, etc.

  • Peter Simon

    Hi Pete. Thanks for quickIy answer. (There is 23:00 here central Europa.)
    I have a good reason of course. 🙂 Because of my job, my family, my training partner etc. I can training only weekend. So I can once a week or once two weeks etc. And another simply fact is I like traning.
    You are right, simplier to do, as you said. But is it stupid idea what I’ve asked?

  • No, it’s not stupid at all. You could do; A1 – week off – A2 – week off – B1 – week off – B2, etc. But eventually you’ll need to more than a week rest. Leg press 1,200 kilos and you’ll see what I mean. Just because you WANT to be 100% recovered in 7 days doesn’t mean it will happen. When you lift the really heavy iron you’ll need more rest. But in the meantime you can do it your way. Just watch your numbers. The numbers never lie.

  • Blackthorne

    I’ll second what Mr. Sisco said. Your body will only recover and grow when it decides, and there’s nothing you can do about it other than (A) obey nature, or (B) disobey and overtrain. Remember, as you continue to grow stronger, the intensity (weights) also grows progressively greater. And while your muscles grow to handle that greater stress, your recovery systems do not and therefore requires longer rest days for every strength increase. But this is a GOOD thing. You’ll have more time to do other things in life. Think of it as your body’s way of rewarding you for the hard work at the gym. Your body is basically saying “Thanks for the workout, now leave me alone and let me grow!” In other words, don’t elevate your training into a recreational or social requirement. Exercise is not recreation. Its hard, its not fun, but the rewards will be (1) greater health, and (2) more time for other things in life.

    If your worried about “staying active”, don’t worry. Due to the fact that you don’t actually grow during the workout (you actually get weaker), the body must go into “active” mode thereafter. In other words, after your workout, your body is constantly being active. How? Because its in a process of growing! Yep, even while your sitting in your chair watching TV, its “actively” growing! Pretty awesome right?

    So you can train more, or you can grow more…..but you can’t do both!

  • James Herried


    Why are you so upset that I would discount Mike Mentzer’s definition of intensity as valid, when Pete Sisco has, in effect, done the exact same thing? Makes no sense to me. In fact,Pete Sisco’s definition for intensity is very different from Mike Mentzer’s.

    Also, you continue to use the phrase “intensity of effort” as if it were synonymous with “intensity”. But it isn’t the same at all;at least it’s not the same as the “intensity” that is needed to trigger greater muscle growth stimulation.

    Just because you have “maximum intensity of effort” by going to failure for any given amount of weight used does not mean that you have achieved “maximum intensity” (i.e. the kind of intensity needed to trigger muscle growth) for the given amount of weight used.

    Think about it:

    You can achieve “maximum intensity of effort” for any given amount of weight used, simply by doing a static contraction to failure at any point in your range of motion,for any given motion. But will the “intensity” (i.e. the kind that triggers muscle growth) be the same at all those different points in your range of motion,even though you achieved “maximum intensity of effort” and used the same amount of weight for each one of them?

    Of course not! And if you think it will be the same at each point, then you might want to learn more about SCT. And isn’t that what this website is for?

  • James Herried


    In any case,just so you can get a better understanding as to what I’ve written on here,and the perspective from which I’m viewing the topic of “intensity”, and how to achieve “maximum intensity”, I strongly suggest that you read John Little’s book “Max Contraction Training”;if you haven’t done so already.

    As you may know, John Little co-authored the books “Power Factor Training” and “Static Contraction Training” (as well as other books) with Pete Sisco. So the strength-training plan in his book “Max Contraction Training” is a SCT workout plan. And it’s very similar to the one that I wrote about in my book 9 years ago, because John Little uses a definition for intensity that’s very simliar to the one I used in my book (which I ever published). And it’s very different from the definition that you quoted from Mike Mentzer.

    There are, however, some significant differences between Little’s book and my book:

    1) Little’s definition for intensity is very similar to the definition for intensity that I used in my book. But it’s not exactly the same; because in my book, I expanded the definition even further to make it even more specific and more practically applicable, for the purpose of achieving maximum intensity.

    2) Surprisingly, Little doesn’t always consistently apply his definition for intensity to all of the exercises in his book. So as a result, some of the exercises in his book enable you to achieve maximum intensity;but some of them do not.
    In my book, however, I made sure to apply my definition for intensity consistently to all of the exercises in the book;so that maximum intensity (and thus maximum muscle growth) could be achieved for every exercise.

    3) Although John Little’s approach and theory is basically the same as the one I used in my book, he never really fully explains why this approach to strength-training, weight-lifting and bodybuilding enables one to achieve maximum intensity,and thus build “maximum muscle in minimum time”. In fact, Little never even uses the words “maximum intensity” in his book;even though that’s obviously what his book is about.
    In my book, I explained in great detail exactly why this approach does work for that purpose; and, in fact, I used the words “maximum intensity” often throughout the book. Because basically, that’s what the workout plan is all about;achieving maximum intensity, and thus maximum muscle growth in minimum time, for every weight-training exercise that you do.

    4) In Max Contraction Training, John Little doesn’t cover all of the basic motions that the human body can perform with weights; whereas I made sure that to include all of those motions in my book. And the reason I did that is simply because each of those motions recruits a unique combination of muscle fibers, some of which do not come into play for any other motion. So for full devlopment of every muscle throughout the body, all of those motions must be done.

    So basically, the workout plan in my book is a “more complete”, more highly-developed version of John Little’s Max Contraction Training; one that takes you “all the way”, not just “part of the way”, in your endeavor to fully develop your physique proportionately, and get the body you want as soon as possible, and in as little time as possible.

    But my book was never published. So again, read John Little’s book, and what I’ve written here on Pete Sisco’s site will make a lot more sense to you.

  • Peter Simon

    Pete, Blackthorne thanks. I can understand and accept that.
    I was curious is it equal that increase the pause or decrease the number of exercise?
    I just wondered, when I can only train every five week, it would be better for me every week train with only one exersice.
    Or one exercise every two weeks, if it is necessary.
    1200kg leg press. 🙂 It sounds very ambitious.
    Now I can bench press 200kg, DL 240kg, squat 240kg, 90kg standing shoulder press, 250kg calf with load on my traps. (Parts of course.)
    Last saturday was my 6th training with SCT. I knew there will be the time, I need more rest (I thougt it will be later…), but I got warning with first exercise last saturday I was a litlle bit weaker. 2nd, 3rd is almost stagnal. After that I finished my train, (I thought there is not any sense) and I will continue next saturday with the rest of program of A.
    Honestly the squat (and calf) with this load is so hard my back, and my shoulder.
    In the gym, where I train there is only vertical leg press machine. Is there any contra to use it?
    Or it will be easier to my back and shoulder to squat, later? I didn’t squat earlier because it was not to good to my knees. But with partial, there is no knees problem. 🙂
    That was similar with BP.

  • Blackthorne

    James Herried,

    This debating between us is old and tired, and not fun. I hate debates to be honest. Two sides with opposing opinions, determined to force each other to change ones mind. Have you ever seen two people debate each other until one side finally changes their mind and agrees with the other side? I haven’t.

    And I’m not saying that Pete’s definition of Intensity is wrong. I just believe that him and Mike are viewing it from two different perspectives. Mike from a metabolic (effort) perspective, and Pete from a Mechanical (pounds per minute) perspective. Both men still take measurements, both still achieve maximum effort (ie; failure or thereabouts) and both still add rest days when needed and keep the workouts brief. Both men are in 100% agreement on the *Fundamentals* of exercise science (ie; that workouts – in order to be productive – MUST be very intense, very brief, and ever-growing on the rest days). Like I said, these guys would possibly be great friends if Mike was still alive.

    So I’m no longer interested in debating. Is that ok?

  • James Herried

    Thanks Pete,

    That’s interesting and good to know; and I do appreciate the legacy left to us by Mike Mentzer.

    That said, we don’t have to blindly accept and follow everything what Mentzer said and believed about strength-training and muscle growth stimulation. He did the best he could at the time in regards to educating people about weight-training for the purpose of building muscle, based upon his “current level of awareness” at the time.

    But we move ahead in life and throughout history by building upon the work of our predecessors. So if we find a better, more useful, more practical definition for intensity than the one favored by Mike Mentzer, why not use it? Wouldn’t MIke Mentzer have done the same thing, if he were alive today?

    And I don’t see how you could literally follow his definition for intensity for the purpose of achieving maximum intensity consistently; because you can’t reliably measure the level of momentary, muscular effort that is expended at any point in an exercise.

  • Can I just add that Mike and I did know each other. I spent some time with him at Gold’s in Venice Beach and at his home in Santa Monica. We were acquaintances but I can’t really say we were friends in the sense that we ever hung around with each other socially. He was a great guy who was a thinker and really cared about truth. He cared in the gym and he cared in the world generally. He did a huge amount to move the science of strength training forward. It’s always easy in retrospect to criticize an innovator for not going further than he did but we should never lose sight of how much he did do. Anyone who wants to strength train rationally owes a debt of thanks to Mike Mentzer.

  • James Herried


    Of course,it’s perfectly ok. This was never intended to be a debate anyway.

    And when you say that you hate debates to be honest,I’ll take your word on that one; just based upon some of the misleading things you’ve said in response to my comments.

    But I prefer for debates to be honest;because I myself am an honest person, in search of the truth. And how can you arrive at the truth without at least some degree of honesty?

    So contrary to the false,misleading assumption you’ve made that “I’m determined to force you to change your mind”, my SOLE purpose in analyzing and commenting about Mike Mentzer’s definition for intensity was simply to generate a “heightened level of awareness” about what intensity really is, as it relates to strength-training and muscle growth stimulation; so that we can all achieve maximum intensity,and thus build “maximum muscle in minimum time”.

    Also, know that what I’ve said in my comments is not just for your benefit; it’s for anyone who happens to be reading this who finds value in it. And commenting on Mentzer’s definition for intensity is perfectly relevant and legit on a site like this.

    And just to clear up some misconceptions you have:

    1) Contrary to what you’ve implied, I don’t do reps at all, and I haven’t for years. I do only static contractions,executed entirely at the point of “maximum intensity”. And that’s because static contractions are the only way you can achieve maximum intensity. But whenever you do reps of any kind, the instantaneous (or momentary) intensity constantly fluctuates,sometimes dropping down to zero. So that being the case, it’s obviously impossible to achieve maximum intensity when doing reps,no matter how much weight you use.

    And when I say “achieve” maximum intensity, I mean generating maximum “in the moment” (instantaneous or momentary intensity) AND sustaining that level of intensity throughout the entire exercise;something that’s impossible to do with reps.

    2) Contrary to your assumption, I always go to failure for every static contraction exercise I do;and as personal fitness trainer, I advise my clients to do the same. This is not because going to failure is a requirement for achieving maximum intensity,but for other reasons I won’t go into. And I emphasize too that just because you go to failure doesn’t mean that you’ve achieved maximum intensity. There’s more to achieving maximum intensity than that.

    3) Contrary to what you said, I don’t dislike Mike Mentzer or have any disdain for him, or his teachings, or his workout plans. I was just analyzing his definition for intensity in an unbiased way,regardless of the source.

    Finally, it’s interesting to note that I just came across a definition for intensity quoted from Mike Mentzer, and it’s totally different from the one we’ve been discussing here. And it’s identical to the definition for intensity that I used in the book that I wrote 9 years ago! Hmmm. Now that makes more sense. So will the “true Mike Mentzer definition for intensity” please stand up?!

  • Blackthorne

    [QUOTE=”James Herried”] “static contractions are the only way you can achieve maximum intensity. But whenever you do reps of any kind, the instantaneous (or momentary) intensity constantly fluctuates,sometimes dropping down to zero. So that being the case, it’s obviously impossible to achieve maximum intensity when doing reps,no matter how much weight you use.” [/QUOTE]

    No doubt about that. I agree 100%. Mike Mentzer agree’s with that 100% as well. That’s why he was experimenting with Statics in his final years.

    [QUOTE=”James Herried”] ” I always go to failure for every static contraction exercise I do;and as personal fitness trainer, I advise my clients to do the same.” [/QUOTE]

    This is vital for two reasons. (1) So that you can know “EXACTLY” how strong you are on a per workout basis. Training shy of failure just cannot do this because you will always be wondering how much more you could have done. And (2) allows maximum growth stimulation. Stopping shy only gives you blind faith. You may “think” you stimulated growth, but what if you did not? What if your breakover point is 1 rep shy of failure, but you stop 2 reps shy, even though you “feel” like it was only 1 rep shy? Too much guess work and blind faith. Training to failure cuts out all the guesswork because you will know each and every time EXACTLY how strong you are. Doing less is blindfolded guesswork.

  • Anonymous

    I do have to respectfully disagree w/ you re: your prediction on the above guy on the right. Find a pic of Dorian Yates or Flex Wheeler or Tom Platz or Bertil Fox before they started bodybuilding. There is no way anyone could have predicted they’re explosion in size. I ‘m right at 100lbs heavier than after a car accident which left me 125lbs. I know w/ PFT I can put on another 20+lbs LBM.

  • The guy on the right has a well-developed arm. His biceps is protruding and he has good definition. He’s not starting out with strength training, he’s experienced. He’s just never going to have a 19″ arm.

  • Peter Simon

    Hi Pete!
    I would like to ask, when I do SCT, what about glycogen?
    I have read that during 20 second the musle use only ATP, and consuming glycogen is really good for insulin sensibility.
    So with SCT the musle can consum glycogen?

  • Do you have a medical issue related to glycogen? Do you have a way of testing your glycogen after different types of workouts in order to determine how your glycogen levels respond to different weights, rep numbers and exercise variations?

    SCT workouts involve lifting heavy weights and in that way are no different fundamentally from any other weightlifting.

    This article speaks to the issue of monitoring physiological elements of training.

  • Blackthorne

    Peter Simon,

    You’ll never be able to measure the glycogen in your muscles. But you can measure the intensity of your workouts. You can know if your stronger. You can know if you need more rest day. You can know if your doing too many sets.

    But if your truly concerned about glycogen, remember where it comes from. Carbohydrates get stored as energy, and then the excess gets stored as glycogen in the muscles. If you want more glycogen, then increase your carbs. If your already getting 70-80% of your calories from carbs, then you shouldn’t have issues. If your not, then increase your starches (whole grains, like potatoes, corn, beans, wheat, brown rice, etc) and fruits. Job done.

  • Blackthorne

    I’ve already posted this in one of Pete’s blogs, but now I’m posting it in the right one, for all of you guys who are frustrated, or just curious regarding size. Trust me when I say the following; You will eventually gain size. It may take a while. Mike Mentzer, a former Mr. Olympia (Heavyweight) went sometimes as long as FOUR months without gaining size.

    Here’s a few quotes. By John Little, and Mike Mentzer

    – John Little: “Strength increase typically *precede* size increases. That is to say, most people get stronger for a period of time prior to getting bigger. However, as long as an individual continues to grow stronger as a result of his workouts, he will get bigger eventually. Just how strong an individual gets or how long it takes him to gain size are factors difficult to predict with unerring certainty as these are matters dictated primarily by genetics. However, as long as a trainee is growing stronger, he can be certain that he’s heading in the right direction. As Mike recalled,

    – Mike Mentzer: “I was one of those individuals who gained strength prior to size increases. I can remember in the early part of my training career especially, there would be periods of even as long as four months – I can remember this very clearly – during which I would get stronger on a regular basis and not gain any weight. As a result, I grew enormously frustrated and almost gave up, more times than I care to remember. And when I say ‘frustrated’, I mean painfully, agonizingly frustrated. It was only years later that Arthur Jones pointed this out – and I saw it was true in so many cases – that for most people, strength comes first.”

    – John Little: “This is an important point for the aspiring bodybuilder to retain, because understanding it will go a long way in preventing the onset of frustration with his training efforts. Mike used to get calls on occasion from clients who would complain, “Geez, Mike, I went up 80 pounds on my squats, and 120 pounds on my shrugs in two months – but I only gained 3 pounds!” This, he would point out, is precisely as it should be. He would go into great detail on this point, pointing out that if an aspiring bodybuilding were to gain 3 pounds every two months, by the end of the year he would end up having gained 18 pounds of solid muscle – a tremendous achievement. Some bodybuilders seldom look so long range at their training careers and therefore have difficulty in envisioning just how much muscle eighteen pounds really is. For the benefit of such people, Mike would offer the following visual aid:

    – Mike Mentzer: “Take a moment and visualize sitting in front of you on your dinner table a single, one-pound beefsteak. Now imagine eighteen of them! That would probably be enough to almost cover your dinner table. If you were able to sustain that rate of growth for two years, you would end up gaining 36 pounds of muscle. Image 36 individual one-pound beefsteakes on your dinner table!”

    – John Little: “That is the principle of progression. Increasing the intensity of your muscular contractions brings about improvements in strength and size. Then you have to increase the intensity or overload to new levels if you desire to progress further in size and strength. The sequential overloading of the muscles to high levels is called *progression*.

    My followup to these quotes is that, I’ve had the same experience. My muscles will grow bigger and stronger, then – for a while – they will grow stronger…….and then eventually…..WHAM….they get bigger again. Thus it is my hypothesis that your current muscular size has a strength limit that it must reach before it says “I gotta build new fibers to store more strength!”. Or something like that. Its also true that very often, your fat levels will decrease while your size levels increase, both simultaneously. This will leave a false impression that you’ve gained no size……when you actually have!

    So keep at it. As Pete said “Where is the guy with a 19″ arms who doesn’t have much strength because he trains for size? Where is the guy with the 12″ arms who bench presses 400 lbs because he trains for strength, not size?”

    He’s spot on. Just be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • Anthony

    A lot of amazing discussion on here. Bottom line SCT works no matter what mainstream experts talk about with their conventional education and love for training so often. A lot of them miss the power in what Pete teaches and proves because it’s tough to tell clients to go to the gym once every 18 days for example.

  • James Herried

    In addition to genetics, it’s also important to remember that increases in muscular size will occur after increases in muscular strength, only if the other factors that determine muscle growth are optimum, and conducive to completing the entire anabolic process.

    Those factors include the proper nutrition, sufficient high-quality sleep, the ideal amounts and balances of hormones, how much stress you have in your life (and how you deal with it) and other lifestyle factors that can have either an anabolic, or more likely a catabolic effect; such as drinking alcohol.

    The way I see it, “exercise intensity” is the ultimate measure of muscular strength. Intensity is the ultimate measure of “how hard” the muscle is working. And the higher the intensity that a muscle is capable of generating, the stronger the muscle is.

    So in order to get a muscle to grow bigger and stronger, you need to subject the muscle to an even higher level of “intensity” than what it’s currently accustomed to. In other words, you need to get the muscle to work even “harder” than what it’s currently used to.

    Doing so triggers a response in the central nervous system (CNS), that causes the muscle to grow bigger and stronger, in order to “adapt” to that higher level of intensity. And once that’s done, muscle growth will occur, only if those other lifestyle factors that play a significant role in the anabolic process are conducive to building muscle mass.

    So intensity is the “trigger” that’s required to set the anabolic process in motion. But it’s not the “entire” anabolic process. The entire anabolic process will be completed, only if those other factors I mentioned above (diet, sleep, stress, hormones, etc.), are at optimum levels.

    So increasing your strength in the gym, by subjecting your muscles to higher levels of intensity, is required to build muscle mass. But it doesn’t guarantee that you will build muscle, because it’s not the complete anabolic process. Aside from genetics, you also have to address those other lifestyle factors, for maximum muscle growth.

    For example, one person came to saying that although he does increase his strength and intensity in the gym progressively, he still can’t seem to build any muscle mass. Then he also said that he runs a lot (including a lot of marathons), and he drinks a lot of alcohol, because he’s Irish.

    I told him that the running and the drinking might explain why he can’t build muscle; in spite of his strength gains in the gym.

    For example, one study showed that running a marathon doubles your cortisol levels, and reduces your testosterone levels by half!. And that’s the exact opposite of what you want, if your goal is to build muscle. Excess amounts of cortisol actually break down muscle tissue. And of course, sufficient amounts of testosterone are required for muscle growth to occur.

    And then alcohol, in excess amounts, is know to inhibit muscle growth. One study showed that alcohol can actually deactivate the testosterone receptors on your muscle cells.

    So running + drinking= a really bad combo for muscle growth

  • Anthony

    James Herried what are your credentials? What makes you think you know it all? Where are you basing your information off of?

  • Donnie Hunt


    I’m curious about your training approach/methods. I like reading about different ideas on blog’s like Pete’s here. You might have a perspective or idea that i’ve never thought about.

  • Nobody asked me, but . . . I’m fine discussing ideas but I don’t want my site used as a place to sell other people’s products. There are other ways to get publicity.

  • Donnie Hunt

    Hey Pete,

    I apologize. This is your blog. If things veer too far off the topic I will ask to take that particular topic elsewhere. I personally don’t have anything to sell. If I did I wouldn’t disrespect you and do that on your site. The only person I train is myself. Thanks again for all the ideas over the years and I appreciate how you put your personal thoughts and sense of humor in your writing as well. Looking forward to future postings.

  • You don’t need to apologize, Donnie. You’ve always been a great and helpful commenter here. Every blog has the occasional issue with folks who show up to sell their own stuff. It’s just bad etiquette, that’s all. No real harm. (And you’ve never done it.)

  • James Herried


    I would be the first one to say that I don’t have all the right answers. Nobody has all the right answers. If any one person did have all the right answers, we wouldn’t need to do research, would we? And only a fool would believe that they “know it all”.

    What I do know is the correct and complete definition for “exercise intensity”, as it relates to strength-training, weight-training and muscle growth stimulation; and how to apply that definition effectively to every motion that the human body can perform with weights.

    And as far as credentials go, I didn’t need a PhD or a Masters to learn that definition for exercise intensity. All I needed was to use my brain in the right way: ask a lot of the right questions, and view things from multiple perspectives.

    As Einstein once said, when he was called ” a genius” by an admirer for his Theories of Relativity, “Every man is a genius; until the sex drive kicks in!”

    So would Einstein be surprised to learn that I (or you) came up with a definition for exercise intensity that proves the experts in the fields of strength-training, weight-training, bodybuilding and exercise physiology were wrong all these years? Obviously not.

  • Donnie Hunt

    Thank you Pete. I greatly appreciate that. I like to go back through some of the articles here and comments.

    James, there is indeed much common ground with you and Pete’s workout methods. Good stuff fellas.

  • James Herried

    And in addition to genetics, there’s another truth that nobody in the fitness industry wants you to know; and it may even more important than genetics. It’s the #1 “dark secret” of muscle growth: drugs.

    The fact is, that every pro bodybuilder (at least the ones who win) and every fitness model (at least the ones who are really muscular) takes steroids and other growth-enhancing drugs (such as insulin and human growth hormone). Every single one of them.

    And that’s because although it’s possible to develop a really “good” physique naturally, it’s not possible for anyone, even with the right genetics, to develop a truly “great” physique naturally; without the use of steroids and other growth-enhancing drugs.

    If it were possible to do that, all of those competition-winning pro bodybuilders during the course of history (Schwarzenegger, Mentzer, Yates,etc.) wouldn’t have had to take steroids, would they? But they knew they had to take steroids, because they knew that there’s no way anyone can develop those freakishly huge muscles favored by pro bodybuilders naturally.

    So in addition to genetics, drugs are the “dark secret” that the supplement part of the fitness industry doesn’t want you to know. And that’s simply because bodybuilding supplement companies hire bodybuilders and fitness models who are on steroids to market their products. And if people found out the real reason why those bodybuilders and fitness models look the way they do (drugs, as well as, or even more so than genetics), that would probably hurt the sales of the supplement.

    Now, that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to using supplements. I definitely believe supplements can be of value. And I’ve experienced health benefits from taking supplements, ones that never could have been obtained from eating even the best diet. And those benefits were definitely not due to the “placebo effect”.

    But if you do take supplements, you have to do your homework, to find out what works, and what doesn’t. And above all, what works for you as an individual.

  • Hi dear fellows,

    How do I do to biceps curls so they progress. I have tried static bicep contraction high and low. I have read that you should make new workout with only non-progressing exercise. That will lead to too many rest days or? What do I do with my biceps curls to progress in them?

    I progress in my other exercises.

    I train Static Contraction training.

  • Lifting relatively light weights (about 50% of your one-rep max) for about 20–25 reps is just as efficient at building both strength and muscle size as lifting heavier weights (up to 90% of one-rep max) for eight to 12 reps, according to the study, the latest in a series done at McMaster University

  • Nope. 20 to 25 reps will never be as efficient as 1 rep. Not by any definition of efficiency I’ve ever seen. (100 reps also works. We tested. I’m sure 1,000 reps works too. Just inefficient by definition.)

  • Aaron

    Has anyone tested their strength in full range of motion after SCT to compare previous PB’s on each exercise??

  • People have reported a very wide variance in transference from strongest range power to full range power.

    Some people claim nearly total transference, while others says they had almost zero. Most people are in the middle. (E.g. Add 100 lbs to their strong range bench press but only 25 lbs to their full range.)

    I always ask, if you added 15 lbs of new lean muscle mass by training in your strongest and safest range of motion, would you really care if your full range power was unchanged?

  • Ben

    Hi Pete, Just finished reading Static Contraction Training. Intriguing, to say the least.
    Having carried out some further research online, I know the training system has evolved somewhat over the years. Could you tell me the main points of difference between the original system and the one you advocate today?

  • How many workouts have you done so far?

  • Ben

    Just finished my sixth session

  • Ben

    I train at home with a power rack, so I perform weighted chins for lats, deadlifts for low back and squats for quads. I have used five second holds from the beginning. Trained A B in the first week, then A B on alternate weeks.

  • Sc

    Looks like the link for the lifting hooks is gone. Did the company stop making them or go out of business?
    Are there any other brands you recommend that will hold a lot of weight?

  • Sadly, the guy making the 1-ton hooks decided to retire from the business. Now I just recommend looking on Amazon for hooks with plenty of 4-to-5-star ratings from users that also appear to be heavy duty.

  • Sc

    Ok. Also, do you have any more studies planned in the future..or workouts you’re developing? Just curious.

  • Don’t think so. I’m getting close to retiring myself.

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