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Isometric Exercise — How to double your bench press instantly
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Same thing for your body.
When you do any weight lifting, you can only lift as much as the weakest part of your range-of-motion, typically the beginning part of the lift.
So, for a bench press, when the bar is at your chest, that’s the weak spot.
For a curl, when your arm is straight, that’s the weak spot.
The problem with weak spots is that your body needs maximum stimulation to grow and these weak spots limit the amount of stimulation you can get.
The solution: Isometric exercise
I know what you’re thinking: isometrics is that stuff from the comic books from the 50’s where you push on a doorway with your arms and then go kick sand in some bully’s face.
Not even close.
Try this on for size:
Put your bench in a squat rack. Extend your arms as if you’re bench pressing… pretend you’re about 2/3 the way through the lift, so your arms have about 3-4 inches left to extend until they’re locked out.
Put the safety bars (or pins) of the squat rack at that level and then put the lifting bar on the safety.
Now here’s where it gets fun.
You’ve just moved the starting point of your exercise PAST the weak spot of the lift. That means you can start with more weight.
Would you believe up to 2x as much?
That means if you’ve been benching 200, you can try 300 or 400!
Now remember we’re talking about isometric weight lifting. You won’t be lifting very far. In fact, if you can just barely get the bar off the safety, you’ve found the right weight.
In fact, your goal with the isometric lifting protocol is to find a weight that you can just barely budge off the bar, and can only hold it up there for 5-10 seconds.
Once you can do this lift for more than 10 seconds, add weight.
You’ll find that you can probably add 10% or more each time.
You’ll also find that, at first, your strength will go through the roof. If you start with 300 pounds (up from a 200 pound full bench press), you may discover that you get to 400 or 500 within 3-4 workouts.
That’s because this kind of functional isometric training (originally coined Max Contraction Training by John Little and Pete Sisco, and then Static Contraction Training by Pete Sisco) seriously taxes your neuromuscular coordination. Those first few workouts show the effects of getting more of your neurons talking to more of your muscle fibers. BIG increases, REALLY fast.
Oh, and you’re only doing ONE SET of an exercise when you train like this.
It won’t feel like much when you’re in the gym, I assure you. But an hour later? Well, that’s a whole different story. And a day later?
You won’t feel sore like a regular workout. You’ll feel “spent.”
And you’ll need some serious recovery time. Many people find that it takes 5-7 days until they’re ready to work out again with this style.
Now the big question is: what will this to do my regular bench press?
The answer is: improve it.
Your muscles don’t know or care that you only did a tiny range-of-motion movement. They were at full speed during the lift. And stronger is stronger. The idea that partial range of motion limits your muscle’s range is total urban legend material.
Bodybuilders and strength trainers have been using this style for over 80 years. Because it works.
I’ll bet that after a month or 2 of isometric training, you’ll have such great imprevements in fitness that you won’t even want to go back to regular workouts.
In fact, you’ll probably run into another problem. You may run out of weights before you run out of strength.
Doing partial isometric reps like this on, say, a leg press… you can move a LOT of weight. Often more than you can stack on the machine, and sometimes more than you can find in your gym.
I’m only 5′6″ and 144 and I can leg press over 1500 pounds on a 45-degree leg press machine. Sadly, the machine only hold 1200!
One solution for that is isometric exercise equipment like the 1-Rep Gym or EF-7000 Streamline. They’re technically similar — a non-moving bar that you push or pull and a force meter that shows how much force (weight) you’ve applied (lifted?).
These isometric gym machines can handle a LOT of force — over 2 tons. Way more than you’ll be able to put out.
Plus, they save you a ton of time because you’re not stacking and unstacking weights all day in the gym. And there’s no risk of dropping a 45 pounder on your toe!