Static Contraction training is a great way to build strength and lean muscle mass. However many people don’t understand static contraction training and thus criticize it. With static contraction you hold a weight in your strongest range of motion for only a few seconds. This is enough to stimulate muscle growth. Many people say though, that you need to lift the weight through the full range of motion to completely work the target muscle. Some also claim that the strength gained from static contraction is only gained at the point at which you hold the muscle. Basically that static strength does not transfer to full range strength.
Those are myths and a static contraction research study was conducted that proves it. It was conducted by Pete Sisco and John Little and is talked about in detail in their book “Static Contraction”.
It was a ten week study done to prove that static holds can cause an increase in muscle mass and an increase in both static and dynamic (full-range) strength. Three strength measurements were taken for a variety of exercises. The measurements were a conventional full range 1-rep maximum, a conventional full range 10-rep maximum and a static hold in the strongest range of motion (the most weight they could hold for 15 seconds at that point). The subjects performed workouts consisting of a total of 10 exercises divided into two separate workouts of five exercises each.
The average age of the subjects was over 38 years old. That means that the majority weren’t young guys who’d never worked out before. Many of these subjects had been training for quite some time and already had developed a certain level of muscularity. That means the gains made were not “newbie” gains.
The complete static contraction study lasted 10-weeks and the subjects averaged working out 2.1 times a week. Despite not having lifted a single weight through the full range of motion, the average lean muscle gain was nine pounds. The subject’s static strength increased an average of 51.3%. Their 1-rep full-range maximum increased 27.6% and their 10-rep full-range maximum increased 34.3%. Imagine, all of those gains were made without lifting a single weight through the full range of motion. It’s clear it is not true that static strength gains won’t carry over to full range strength gains.
The subjects in the static contraction research study didn’t just make strength gains but they also made considerable gains in their ,muscle size. Their biceps increased an average of 0.5 inches, their chest 1.1 inches and their shoulders increased an average of 1.2 inches.
Think about these results. It’s true that not everybody will achieve those same results. Even if you made half the progress the average subjects made in 10 weeks from only working out twice a week for a few minutes each time, that would still be excellent progress.
If you want larger muscles and more strength, it shouldn’t matter how you workout to achieve those goals. So if you haven’t done so already, give static contraction a try.
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