This month I’ve been sharing with you some of the best but little-known advanced techniques that can net you enormous rewards in growth and strength. These are not techniques that you’ll see very much of in the neighborhood gym, unless you luck into watching someone who’s working with an intelligent bodybuilding or strength coach.
In our personal one-on-one coaching program, we use these advanced techniques to give our clients incredible results. These guys are able to realize serious gains in the shortest time span, much faster than they expected, and with no plateaus. The reason they’re able to get these results is variation. As I explained in my posts on constant tension timed sets and functional hypertrophy clusters, the key to blasting plateaus is to present new stimuli to your body on a regular basis. Once you’re past the beginner stages of bodybuilding, those stimuli can’t come from the standard three or four techniques that you have been using. They simply lack the needed intensity. This is why we use as many as three dozen different advanced techniques with our clients, changing them up as needed.
In this post, I want to introduce you to an advanced bodybuilding technique that’s been a game-changer for many of the most well-known and respected bodybuilders out there.
It’s called isometronics, but you may have also heard it referred to as static contraction training or auxotonics.
What is Isometronics?
Isometronic training combines the principles of isometric and isotonic exercises to reap the benefits of both. It is a very high-intensity workout, but the rewards are huge. In isometronic training, you use heavy loads (often heavier loads than you’ve been lifting) on a power rack, but in a very specific way.
Isometronics is used with movements that require either pressing or curling. For instance, you can do it with barbell squats, bench presses, barbell curls, incline presses and so on.
With an isometronic movement, you place two pins in the rack, anywhere from 4-6 inches apart, which limits the distance of the movement and your range of motion to the top one-third or so of the exercise. Then you basically pre-fatigue the muscle by doing several (usually six if you normally do eight reps) of these partial reps and then doing an isometronic lift. To do this, you stop at the top of the movement and press as hard as possible, as though you were trying to push through the pins, for around 6-10 seconds. After lowering the weight and resting for a very short period, you try to do one more regular rep. For many guys, that last partial rep is a no-go. You then rest again and go on to do two more sets.
Why Is Isometronics Training So Effective?
Isometronics training gets massive results in both hypertrophy and strength gains because it prompts so many different responses from your muscles, your hormones and your central nervous system.
First, your muscles are able to exert 10-15% more force during an isometric contraction (pressing the bar at the end of the movement) than they are during the concentric movement. Exerting that force, though, adds tremendous intensity to the set. Because of the pre-fatigue reps followed by the isometric rep, you’re able to achieve maximal intramuscular tension; far more than you can with a regular movement.
That intensity has a number of positive benefits. First, you’ll be recruiting more of the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which stimulates myofibrillar growth. In most protocols, it’s difficult to work past the point where you’ve fatigued the slow-twitch fibers so that you can stimulate the fast-twitch fibers. But because you’re pre-fatiguing the muscle and then exerting a tremendous amount of force for one rep and then asking the muscle to do one more rep, your CNS sends in every gun it has. Myofibrillar hypertrophy means growth in both size and strength.
That stimulation of the central nervous system sets off a really important cycle. It prompts more efficient neuromuscular communication, which just means that your muscle fibers get messages from your brain much more quickly. Every time you do the workout, that communication (and the responding muscle fiber recruitment) gets better and better. You’re able to increase reps and/or load every three or four workouts, as opposed to every three or four weeks.
Another very important response to this training is hormonal. Because isometronic training is so incredibly demanding, it stimulates your body to release more IGF-1 than it would with your normal workouts. IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor) stimulates the satellite cells in your muscle fibers, which are basically the concrete your body uses to repair and build new muscle.
How to Do It
Isometronics are extremely taxing to the central nervous system. If you try isometronics, you’ll probably find yourself shaking like crazy after doing three sets of an exercise. This is because your central nervous system is completely shocked. That’s a good thing, for all the reasons I just explained, but it can be overdone very quickly.
Isometronic training is not for beginning bodybuilders and it is not a protocol for training five or six days a week.
For most of our personal clients, we usually suggest isometronic training for every other workout. By this I mean, every other biceps workout or every other chest workout and so on. Not every other full-body workout or even every other upper-body or lower-body workout. The last thing you want to do is fry your central nervous system by doing isometronics with every body part in a given workout. In any event, the supporting muscles wouldn’t be up to it.
Because of the huge demand on your central nervous system, you also need to cycle this type of workout very carefully. How often you need to cycle it out will depend on your fitness level, your workout and your CNS.
What to Do Next
If you have a personal coach or a very experienced mentor who’s familiar with isometronics, then by all means talk to him about incorporating this intense workout into your regimen. But because you can very quickly overdue it and wipe out your CNS, I strongly urge you to work with someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to isometronics.
If you don’t know someone who can help you, then I encourage you to check out our personal one-on-one training program. It’s very affordable and you’ll have very careful training and guidance in not only isometronics but all of the other advanced training techniques that we’re discussing this month.
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