How I doubled my strength in just 4 weeks!
No drugs, no steroids, no dietary suppliments, no changes to diet. I used a new high intensity strength training paradigm whose workouts are ultra brief, ultra efficient, and produce incredible progress.
Sounds like hype. It isn't. Before I learned this new exercise paradigm: Off and on for 10+ years, 3 times a week I'd do 40-45 stations of circuit weight training, 10-15 repetitions each, 60-90 minutes per workout. I was spending 12-18 HOURS per month in the gym and only getting modest strength gains.
Now, that I use this new exercise paradigm: I alternate between two workouts, (an A and a B), 5 exercises per workout, one repetition each exercise. At this stage of my development, I only do one 20-30 minute workout per month and only 1-2 minutes of that is actually spent lifting weight (the rest of the time is warm-up, equipment set-ups, and logging my workout).
With this new technique, far less time spent exercising yielded much bigger and faster results.
What doesn't work
In the summer of 2000 I was very frustrated. I had been doing circuit weight training for 10+ years with minimal gains in strength. I'd start up a circuit weight training program and work up to 40-45 stations x 10-15 repetitions each. I was spending 60-90 minutes per workout three times per week (do the math: that's 12-18 HOURS per month in the gym!). Initially I'd get modest gains -- adding 5-10 lbs of strength to a just a few of the 40-45 stations. But after 2-4 months I'd plateau. I'd stop improving, I'd start losing ground - having to do fewer repetitions or use lighter weight. I was feeling burned out and run down. After 6-8 months I'd get fed-up, quit, walk away -- it seemed like an exercise in futility, a grievous waste of my time. 6-12 months later I'd restart that process and the cycle repeated. I kept that up for about 10 years.
But, it just wasn't working. When the student is ready, the master appears...
I discovered Static Contraction training
I watched a Tony Robbins video PowerTalk interview with Pete Sisco and John Little, the inventors of Static Contraction Training. You may have seen Pete's video about just how strong you can get:
Pete teaches an ultra brief high intensity exercise technique called Static Contraction. You alternate between two workouts (A and B), 5 exercises each workout, with one repetition and a 10-20 second "hold time" per exercise. You literally spend only 1-2 minutes per workout actually lifting weight. Not only that, as you get stronger, you need to exercise less frequently to give your body more time to recover then grow muscle.
Done properly, EVERY exercise of EVERY workout will register strength gains until you reach the point of "over training". When that happens, you just increase the amount of time between workouts. So, if you've never done Static Contraction before you might start out doing two workouts a week. After 2-4 weeks you'll hit the over train point and have to cut back to once a week. You might be able to keep up that pace for 1-3 months until you hit the over train point again and must cut back to once every week and half. As you get stronger, you'll keep hitting the over train point and reducing your frequency e.g. to once every two weeks, then once every two and half weeks, once every three weeks, and so on.
I thought "this is too good to be true, no way can anything be that effective and efficient!". But, I was intrigued, I deemed the technique worthy of an experiment. I bought Sisco and Little's book on Static Contraction to get more information then I headed to the gym to give it a try.
I started working out twice per week using the guidelines in the video PowerTalk and Sisco and Little's book . In the first 4 weeks:
- My Shoulder Press went from 115 lbs to 135 lbs after just 4 reps totalling 60 seconds of hold time.
- My Cable row for lower back went from 210 lbs to 300 lbs after just 4 reps totalling 75 seconds of hold time. I had grown strong enough to use heavier weight but the equipment's maximum capacity was only 300 lbs.
- My Weighted Ab Crunch went from 15 lbs to 120 lbs after just 4 reps totalling 80 seconds of hold time.
- My Bench Press went from 115 lbs to 215 lbs after just 4 reps totalling 87 seconds of hold time
- My Barbell Shrug went from 135 lbs to 225 lbs after 4 reps totalling 84 seconds of hold time
- My Lat Pulldown went from 210 lbs to 240 lbs after 3 reps totalling 39 seconds of hold time
- My Close Grip Benchpress (for triceps) went from 115 lbs to 215 lbs after 4 reps totalling 81 seconds of hold time
- My Leg Press went from 390 lbs to 855 lbs after just 4 reps totalling 97 seconds of hold time.
- My Toe Press went from 290 lbs to 810 lbs after just 4 reps totalling 80 seconds of hold time
In just those first 4 weeks I had achieved better progress than I had in 10 YEARS of circuit weight training. That's it, I was hooked! Three months into my program:
- My chest press had gone from 115 lbs to 285 lbs. By that point I had only done 8 reps totalling 165 seconds of total hold time.
- My close grip bench press had gone from 115 lbs to 285 lbs, after just 8 reps and 124 seconds of total hold time.
- I had increased my leg strength another 50% (that's a 50% increase on top of the more than 100% increase I had in the first 4 weeks).
- My Ab crunch had gone from 15 lbs to 180 lbs.
By seven months into my program I had almost doubled my already doubled leg strength -- that is I doubled my leg strength in the first month then almost doubled it again in the next 6 months. When was the last time your exercise program yielded results like that?
I've been using Static Contraction ever since and still record strength gains EVERY workout.
I did run into some challenges along the way:
- In my first 4 weeks I outgrew the Leg Press at the Bally's Health Club I was using. I had to switch to another gym with tougher equipment. In less than a year, I hit the limit of what I could do on their equipment.
- In my first 4 weeks I outgrew the cable row machine at that tougher gym (its maximum capacity was only 300 lbs). I could not find any tougher equipment, so my progress was limited by "state of the art" in exercise equipment.
- After about 6 months I outrew the Ab Crunch machine, I had maxed it out at 190 lbs.
- I outgrew the Lat Pulldown machine, maxing it out at 250 lbs.
- For the free weight exercises I was doing, I tended to monopolize weight plates -- I'd have to wait for other people to finish so I could use their weight plates. They'd have to wait for me to finish so they could get back their weight plates and resume their workouts. This is a wonderfully decadent problem to have!
- After a while I noticed my finger strength was failing on various pulling exercises, which was limiting my progress (cable row, lat pulldown, barbell shrug). I invested in some cheap canvas weight lifter straps to suppliment my hand grip strength and my progress resumed. Eventually I reached a point where my grip strength was failing even with the canvas straps so I switched to "1 ton lifting hooks" and my progress resumed (one hook for each hand, each hook is capable of pulling 1 ton of weight). I found the 1 ton hooks on Pete Sisco's PrecisionTraining.com website.
- After about a year and a half, my progress stalled due to limitations in conventional gym equipment.Thankfully, Tony Reno started a company called Explosive Fitness to create exercise equipment specifically designed for Static Contraction. It supports 5000 lbs of resistance for the two leg exercises and 2000 lbs of resistance for the other eight exercises. I bought their first generation equipment and my progress resumed. I eventually upgraded to their newest "streamline" equipment . Their equipment does not use any weight plates, so setup for each exercise is very fast. Instead, they use an electronic meter that measures exactly how many pounds (or kilograms) of force your body can exert.
But, I can no longer recommend equipment from Explosive Fitness. I like the XF Streamline but I believe the company is out of business. Their website is gone, their contact information is not working. Before that happened I found the company to be very unresponsive to customer support issues.
In the arena of Strength Training, Static Contraction is truly a Profound Paradigm. If you'd like more information:
- Pete Sisco publishes updated Static Contraction E-books on his PrecisionTraining.com website. That site also has links to several useful resources including the one ton lifting hooks.
- You can start out doing Static Contraction on conventional gym equipment at most health clubs, but you'll probably soon outgrow their equipment. Explosive Fitness used to sell SuperRep "Streamline" Static Contraction equpment on their website (now gone). You might be able to find their equipment for sale on Ebay or Craig's list. They are the only manufacturer I am aware of that marketed Static Contraction equipment. But I can not recommend this equipment at this time. While I really like the "Streamline" equipment, the company had been very unresponsive to my correspondence regarding a simple support issue. It appears they've gone out of business. Pete Sisco severed ties with Explosive Fitness and mentioned another company should soon be producing Static Contraction equipment. When I learn more about that, I wil publish that information.
- The Tony Robbins Video PowerTalk does a great job covering Static Contraction and showing how to do the 10 exercises using conventional gym equipment. He includes it in his Get The Edge program and might also sell it as a stand-alone Health Powertalk. You can contact Tony via his website www.tonyrobbins.com/.
- Sisco and Little's book is available via bookstores and amazon.com
What results have you achieved with Static Contraction training?