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Isometrics: How Many Reps Optimal?
 
 
John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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12-10-2014, 10:18 AM
 
Hey Men,

This is an invitation for you to share your personal experience.

I have been asked by a man a very specific question:


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"John, I really enjoy the forum and the way that you and Greg Newton, Andy62, and several others get right to the point. So I'm hoping you can answer my question. I have always been fascinated by Isometrics but never felt like I was accomplishing anything. What I mean by that is that I was never really sure that I was applying enough tension to get the kind of results that I was after. It always came back to the question: 'How do you know for sure?' Recently, the light went on for me and I know that what you have said about the learning curve with Isometrics is true. The more you practice Isometrics the more you know that you are contracting with greater tension. My question is how many reps do you think are optimal for best results. I read the Hettinger book, 'The Physiology of Strength' you have posted in the 'Classics' section and it says just one contraction for 6 seconds at 2/3 or more of maximum strength is all that is required to achieve maximum results but sometimes that just doesn't feel like it's enough? How many reps do you think are optimal?"


My Answer: I think one very intense rep is ideal but my experience is like yours. Sometimes I don't feel as though I put enough intensity into a 'single' rep and when that happens I do I repeat it and try hard to make it more intense by really thinking into the contraction. In fact, sometimes I will even repeat it for a third time. One of the things I know for certain is that Isometric Contraction requires that you block out everything and think only of the contraction. The truth is that if you do it right then you can accomplish your goal with just one rep and most of the time I do. But like I have already said, sometimes I don't feel like I have nailed it and then I repeat it. The point however is this, I never approach an Isometric workout with the idea that I am going to repeat reps. I do it only once unless I feel like I didn't nail it and then and only then I repeat it.

Now, you other men, please share your own experience. There is not a right or wrong answer only personal experience and revelation. THANKS ALL OF YOU.

---John Peterson
 
 
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Paul Smith Paul Smith is offline
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12-10-2014, 10:43 AM
 
Like with any type of resistance exercise, I think time under tension (TUT) matters. Historically, when doing full body isometric workouts, I have either done:

A series of 9-12 extended isometric contractions (EIC), aka aerobic isometrics, of one minute at as hard of a contraction that I can maintain for that length of time. These are what I consider compound exercises as I choose postures that activate multiple muscle groups. I repeat this sequence twice for a total of 18-24 one-minute contractions.

or...

A series of 24 ten-second contractions, again as hard as I can muster without burning out. These are exercise that isolate (for the most part) single muscles. I repeat the sequence three times for a total of 72 ten-second contractions.

For me, I just don't feel I could get as good a workout in if I only did one contraction of any given hold. As a scientific principle, either TUT matters or it doesn't. And if it makes a difference in one type of resistance exercise, it has to make a difference in ALL of them. We can't have it both ways.

Paul
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Andy62 Andy62 is offline
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12-10-2014, 11:17 AM
 
Listen to your intuition, your “Internal Voice”, your own individually calibrated GPS
 
 
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John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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12-10-2014, 11:31 AM
 
Hey Paul Smith,

According to the 15 year Isometric research conducted at the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund, Germany from 1946 to 1961 the 'time Under Tension" that yielded the greatest result was 6-seconds at 2/3 or more of maximum strength and only one repetition supposedly yielded best all around gain. Hettinger and Mueller tested thousands of individuals and included every conceivable variable in their research. Like you, I believe that there may be some people for whom this truly is the ideal protocol but my take is that once a man masters Isometric contraction he will need to further adjust to match his own intuition and physiology. But I do agree Time Under Tension is something every individual needs to master for himself.

---John Peterson
 
 
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TimK TimK is offline
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12-10-2014, 12:27 PM
 
I wonder if we have some confusion with terms and desires.
I think that the greatest "strength gain" "for the time expended" will be in holding a 6 second time under tension iso. Now strength gain does not necessarily mean a larger muscle particularly when we are speaking about isometrics.
My thought is that an aerobic isometric hold of 30 seconds to 2 or 3 minutes would have a better chance of increasing muscle size or vascularity than that 6 second hold.
I am also not too concerned about having a 10 minute workout; I always have more time than that.
I do some aerobic isometrics like the "wall sit" and the "wrestler's bridge" where I am holding for more than one minute, but these are done separately from my other workouts. My regular isometrics I hold for a count of about 30, which I gauge as a 15 or 20 second hold. If I do my usual 39 isometric holds for 15 or 20 seconds that is only 10 to 13 minutes of exercise; I too would not feel like I was accomplishing anything. My isometric workouts are always done in conjunction with DSRs or DVRs and pushups. That way I get a pump and the potential strength gain of isometrics.
Isometrics performed as a stand alone workout are no doubt effective, but without a good pump it would be difficult to appreciate that one had accomplished anything.

Tim
 
 
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vegetus25 vegetus25 is offline
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12-10-2014, 03:40 PM
 
I read an article on isometrics. The author suggested it was better to do isometrics away from other exercise because you need your full strength to truly get the most out of them. He thought that is why people failed to get results in muscle size from them.

Thoughts? Thanks
 
 
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sjhemmings sjhemmings is offline
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12-10-2014, 04:08 PM
 
Good Afternoon! Is it one contraction per muscle, per day, 6 days a week?
 
 
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TimK TimK is offline
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12-10-2014, 04:16 PM
 
Vegetus25,

No kidding? Could be. I'd like to see what kind of Greek-godlike body the author has before I change my workouts, unless John chimes to agree.
My thought would be that it would be better to have the blood pumping pretty good before making an all-out effort at anything. But I have certainly been wrong before.
Thanks for the thought.

Tim
 
 
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vegetus25 vegetus25 is offline
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12-10-2014, 04:32 PM
 
Tim,

The guy is built pretty well. I don't know if he is right or not. I just found it interesting, since I have not heard it stated before. I don't think he minds the blood pumping a bit, he just doesn't want the muscle fatigued before performing isometrics. He thinks attacking the largest muscle fibers while they are fresh is the way to go for strength/size gains.

He does come from a weight background (although, has been promoting bodyweight exercise for years) where isometrics are usually added at the end of a set as a finisher, so that might have something to do with it.

Last edited by vegetus25; 12-10-2014 at 04:45 PM.
 
 
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John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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12-10-2014, 05:27 PM
 
Hey Vegetus25,

If you have been reading my posts I've been saying this for years. Isometrics FIRST! Why? Successful Isometric Contraction requires intensity. 6-Second contractions allow for maximum intensity because you are NOT over taxing your central nervous system. For years I was doing 12 second contractions and burning myself out and have to take days off. I can now go all out for 6 seconds and recover very quickly. I perform my 43 Isometric Power Flexes each morning and I feel energized. After them I do my weight vest Push-Ups. The key to daily Isometrics is in the duration that you hold each contraction. No more than 6-7 Seconds at max. When you know you're going for just 6 seconds it is much easier to go all out than to psyche yourself up for 12.

Observation: Isometrics will make the muscles much more dense BEFORE adding any size. In fact, you may lose a little size as the subcutaneous fat covering your muscles is burned off and they become far more dense and defined.

In order to add size to your muscles YOU MUST infuse highly oxygenated blood into them. Anyone who says otherwise knows nothing about physiology.

---John Peterson
 
 
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