Isometrics revisited

in the 60’s to 70’s  you would have been hard pressed to ignore the isometrics movement. Vic O’beck published “How to Exercise without moving a muscle” in 1964 and it became very popular.

During the late 60’s early 70’s the Daily Express ran a regular cartoon in its pages which popularised the exercise regime. The cartoons were eventually bundled into a book Isometrics. How to exercise without moving a muscle, in strip cartoons from the Daily Express.

Like many fitness fades, the interest faded from main stream use, due in part to silly claims. A regime that promises to get you fit and trim in 90 seconds a day is bound to sell you the book or course, but fail to deliver much , if any, fitness.

This is a shame, as given the right objectives, the static hold has a really useful role to play. According to James Hewitt who wrote Isometrics for you: Get fit and trim in 90 seconds a day in 1966  “without special apparatus and without moving a muscle you can grow stronger and build, or reshape your body to nearer your hearts’ desire. The static  contraction has been part of physical culture systems  for a very long time. Hatha yoga contains postures  held without movement”.

Put simply, isometrics are a system of physical exercises in which muscles are caused to act against each other or against a fixed object. It’s a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.

The popular regimes focused on basic body building type exercises and suggested a 6  second static contraction  with a maximum, or comfortable maximum contraction. This bicep curl picture gives you a good idea.

bicepcurl

Whilst this had some value, the use of the extended static hold in functional fitness is probably in developing the capacity to simply hold postures which contribute to actual exercises. The reality is that if you want to kick up to a rock solid free standing handstand, or do 20 plus pull ups, you better be able to hold a static ( albeit “leaning” ) handstand against the wall, and hang for 60, 90, 120, 180 seconds. Extra grip strength is always useful!

Btw you could find yourself struggling at 10 seconds when you start. Just do what you can and build up

So think about your regime and hunt out obvious postures to practice: the side planks, lunging pushes against a wall and deadlift holds spring to mind. Adding the L sit, a horse stance ( the old martial arts favourite) and a “hip up” hold can , when combined,  make a really useful home exercise regime.

No more, “I cannot get to the gym”!!

Shoulder mobility

It’s pretty crucial that everybody has an easy to do shoulder mobilising routine.

This is the  shoulder regime  I use extensively with my clients. Sort of easy, just needs a light band.  Equally if you forget your band, use an imaginary one.

The gymnastic dish shape or hollow hold

To have a fantastic core you need to strengthen and engage your core muscles in a move called the dish shape, or the hollow hold.

This video starts you on the road to the perfect dish

I like this move because you can learn it at home!

The value of this move is that it starts you on the road of learning the handstand. You take the shape you have been learning, make the pelvic tilt more obvious,  build it into a plank then walk the plank up the wall!

All at home!

Home pull up bar and gymnastic rings

When working through my home training courses, the chances are you will need a pull up bar. Many landlords won’t let you screw them into a wall, so get one that slides in and out of a door way. I’ve liked the JML one because, like me, its been around for ages,

JML Awesome Gym Door Frame Workout/Pull-Up Bar Home Gym for Upper Body Exercises

but there are lots of cheaper ones around too

I have to say that I own my own home so, Ive screwed mine into the wall.

Once you have a pull up bar, you can get a set of gymnastic rings. I started importing them in 2005 in tiny batches, and I think they cost £50 plus.

Today £20 gets you a nice wooden pair. Here is a good example, opt for wood if you can.

Sundried Wooden Gymnastic Rings with Straps Exercise Gym Rings Crossfit Gymnastics Athletic Dip Rings

If you want to start using your Gymnastic rings, anf you can afford  99p  ( or £1 less 1p) you can get a copy of my old ring training guide, thats rudely been scored as a 1 star!! Try and be more generous

Ring Training: Using gymnastic rings in the fitness Environment

Is Successful Strength Training like Marriage ?

Successful Strength training like marriage is measured in years not weeks or months

Pay attention to the basics . Lift often, lift heavy (5 plus,, but vary from 5 to 1) be happy with small increases. Every relationship or “thing” in your life requires consistency

Don’t panic if you plateau.

In what other part of (real) human existence do we expect to have increases all the time . We can tamper with economics and pretend we have yearly growth: some NHS workers ( apparently ) get a grade increase each year , but that always. always unravels. “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…….’

The hall marks of successful strength training (marriage) is patience and maturity: watch for the opportunity to improve but don’t obsess., be happy with consolidation, treasure consistency and above all, be confident enough to rest and take it easy.

Eat well and sleep well

Bear in mind that all advanced programming is dedicated to one phenomenon, failure. Many marriages fail because one partner isn’t happy with the perfection they have, and instead indulges in fantasy . Don’t let the strength porn of a few gifted ( psychotic) individuals deprave and corrupt your normal image of how things are.

Failure is rushing at fantasy target too hard and fast.

Having preached consistency, it’s equally essential to mix it up and be creative. Add some strongman training, add and vary assistance exercises.

Variety has always been the spice of life But variety is still just a spice. It makes the fundamentals seem a bit different that’s all. It still needs the fundamentals/

In short, don’t see strength as something geeky or the preserve of experts. See it as the perfect romance or marriage, demanding consistent loyalty commitment and work , along with romance and variation.

So to be successful, research how to be romantic and simply build it into your strength regime

Build your Push ups

There are a lot of very dull, unimaginative push up regimes on the internet. My aim is to get you 100 push ups in, about, 6 weeks.

For the purposes of the first part of this this post, Im going to assume you can do 10 strict push ups in one go. (If you have none, skip further down)

The 1st thing i need you to do is to do a test, one today, one tomorrow. today I want you to attempt the most continuous push ups you can. Record it.

Tomorrow, I want you to attempt as many push ups as you can in 2 minutes . You can take as many breaks as you like, you can do lots of singles. Does not matter. Just do as many as you can in 2 minutes.

This gives you an interesting base line to begin with.

For now, you have two alternating protocols to follow

1) Without being too prescriptive, I need you to get to 10 sets of 10 push ups, with no more than 90 seconds rest. At this stage, this means, shooting for 10 reps, then resting for 90 seconds, so the reps could look like this.

10, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 4, 6, 8.

2) 3 sets of maximum push ups. go down and do as many push ups as you can, rest 2 minutes, then do it again 2 more times.

So, do 1 on day 1, 2 on day 2, then a rest day. then 1 and 2 again.

That should get you started for now.

BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO PUSH UPS. Ive seen lots of people with no push ups struggling on “box” and knee versions. Whilst they are interesting if you are really really weak, i have never seen anyone successfully get a full push up by using these shortened versions. The 2 best techniques to use are the eccentric phase and Isometrics. Put simply, get into the top of a push up, and lower yourself down as slowly as you can. Do this 4 or 5 times with 60 seconds rest ( more if you need it.). Then while lying on the floor, try and push yourself up. Put as much effort in as you can, and push for 7 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and go again. ( say 4 times). You may not move, but you are building the specific strength to do so.