T Nation

Isometrics and Dynamics

My local gym is pretty far away, the roads are icy, and I got home way late tonight so I decided to forgoe the gym. I’m at home doing some gymnastics style isometrics: planches, and pikes(?) hanging from a girder in my basement (murder on the fingers!). Anyway, I was thinking about the westside program I’ve been using, and with maximal effort days being damn close to isometrics on their own… What kind of results would you get just doing isometrics one day, and then a dynamic effort day?

I’m a huge fan of these gymnastics positions because they’re so readily available. I discovered them last year at the end of the wrestling season. They were too little too late, but I had never seen such a drastic increase in functional strength. I hate to shrug that off as just the shock of trying something new. When I’ve taken off lifting to do them for a few weeks I’ve come back much stronger, now I’m wondering if I’ve been wrong to train without iso’s in my program for so long.

What kind of experiences do you all have with isometrics? Has anyone tried doing iso’s and dynamic days, similar to Westside? I’m planning to give it a shot for at least a month and see how it goes.

All of CT’s “Pendulum Training” articles discuss the concept of isometric-emphasis days. Isometrics are certainly useful tools in getting stronger. I am not an expert, but I do use isometrics heavily in my training and even as a max-effort type exercise. I would certainly see nothing wrong with the split you propose, try it and see how it works.

By the way, would you mind listing out how you plan on structuring your workouts?

How have the isometrics worked for you in your training? What kind of progress?

I think I’d have the isometrics day just involve holding a planche for a total of 60 or 90 seconds, I’d start at 20 second intervals (where I’m at now) and progress until a full 60. I’d do the same kind of thing for the pike.

The dynamic effort would be 2 days later. 8x2 bench, I know where I’d start with 65% of my max but I’m not sure how I’d progress. 5-10 pounds every couple weeks? Then powercleans 5x2. Would it be appropriate to do heavy low rep push presses and weighted pull ups this day too as assistance excersizes? Two more days of rest before repeating.

If this works out for a month I can change up excersizes pretty easily and keep going with it. Comments?

[quote]rumblefish wrote:
How have the isometrics worked for you in your training? What kind of progress?

I think I’d have the isometrics day just involve holding a planche for a total of 60 or 90 seconds, I’d start at 20 second intervals (where I’m at now) and progress until a full 60. I’d do the same kind of thing for the pike.

The dynamic effort would be 2 days later. 8x2 bench, I know where I’d start with 65% of my max but I’m not sure how I’d progress. 5-10 pounds every couple weeks? Then powercleans 5x2. Would it be appropriate to do heavy low rep push presses and weighted pull ups this day too as assistance excersizes? Two more days of rest before repeating.

If this works out for a month I can change up excersizes pretty easily and keep going with it. Comments?[/quote]

I feel like the isometrics have definitly helped my progress. In about 3 months I have added 35 pounds to my bench and increased my vertical leap by 2.5". Certainly all of this is not directly attributable to isometrics, but I feel the prooper use of them definitly helped. It is kind of “newbie” gains in a way because all through high school I trained using basically just training all of the standard exercises 3x8 or 10 with no periodization or structure or anything. When I got to college my strength coach turned me on to T-Nation and helped me learn the WS4SB template, which I use now, with some alterations to include more dynamic training as well as so iso or eccentric emphasis.

Anyways, I think you are on the right track definitly. I would change it slightly though. On your isometric day I would add some assistance work because your total weekly volume is a little low. A few sets of pushups or another comperable low-moderate intensity exercise would work well. For best results I would even seperate the two workouts. Do the iso stuff in the morning and then in the afternoon evening bang out 3 sets of 20 pushups or something. Or do the iso stuff in the morning and the pushups at night or whatever. For the dynamic day, I think you definitly want to keep the heavy lifting out of there. Push presses are not a bad idea, provided that you keep them dynamic. Maybe throw in 8 sets of 2/3 at a weight that allows you to really “throw” the weight over your head rather than “press” it. I would keep the weighted chins out of it. It would be fine to do 3 sets of chins at whatever weight (or unweighted) as long as you don’t approach failure. Remember, the goal of assistance exercises is only to add a little more volume to the workout, not to add more intensity. You shouldn’t really feel beat down after a dynamic workout like you might after a high-volume or heavy workout.

What do you think of this?

Stength/Iso Day
A. 3 sets of 20 seconds Planche hold
B. 3 sets of 20 seconds Pike hold
C. 3 sets of 20 pushups

Dynamic Day
A. 8 x 2 Dynamic Bench
B. 5 x 2 Power Cleans
C. 8 x 2 Push Press (easy weight)
D. 3 sets of chins (3 reps “in the tank” on the last set)

To me that would look a lot like an “intensification” block. Alternate a block (3-4 weeks plus an unload week) of that with a block of higher volume and less intensity.

Check out Steve Justa’s Rock Iron Steel. He talks a lot about isometrics in the book and how much stronger they’ve made him in other activities.

Plus he’s done a hip-and-thigh lift with 2,000 pounds.