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Static Holds in Training

Hi Dr Darden,

Obviously your an advocate of negative emphasized training, for multiple valid reasons, but id be very interested in your opinion with regards to the use of static holds in ones training. Are they something you’ve ever experimented with in your own personal training? Or perhaps with clients, possibly individuals with injuries whom couldnt preform an exercise through a full ROM?

Many thanks

Good question – with shoulder issues now and then, I’d like to use something like John Little’s Max Contraction for “chest” or “shoulders” or Drew Baye’s approach. Seems much safer.

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As a trainee progresses he likely has no choice but to use statics or ultra ultra slow (i.e. 303030) … which is practically a full negative through a full ROM since the weight is always “backloading” a muscle.


I have read Ken Hutchins’s material on statics. Ken recommends holding at a mid-range position at 50% of your max for 20 seconds, then near your all-out max for another 20 seconds, and finally at 50% max for a final 20 seconds. So, the total set amounts to a 60-second hold, with changing intensities.

I’ve tried the above guidelines with some of my trainees, but I haven’t done them enough to offer any definitive guidelines. They seem, however, to have merit.

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That’s is interesting, kind of an abbreviated version of max pyramid.
Many thanks Dr D.

After the leg press today, I did static squats; basically done on a Powertec multi-station leverage squat machine; with little weight, I lower to where my legs are parallel to the ground; static hold until I am close to fatigue, then start doing mini-partial reps in the bottom lower 1/3 range of motion. I look at the exercise as an “add on” but really does a number.

I’ll have to try that. Thanks.

Without a doubt ATP, i just salt SHs here and there myself.

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But, does it matter? Unless you’re doing something that requires lifting a weight or object (like a powerlifter or strongman) for a full ROM, static training or partials will stimulate or help maintain lean body mass.

Pete Sisco pointed out years ago – and this still makes perfect sense – that when we push or move something in real life, we naturally do it in our ‘strongest’ range if possible. Our body instinctively uses this range and it is where the highest % of muscle fibers are engaged.

John Janquish’s X3 Bar videos, articles – while a +$500 product – takes advantage of this – not too different from the Nautilus cam design/approach. (Less expensive options are available, obviously.) On the pressing movement, the most resistance is takes place at the strongest point of the movement and the resistance falls off as the bar is lowered whether with bands or a Nautilus cam.

And that was the big complaint with Nautilus: it wasn’t 1:1 with a barbell – eg you couldn’t train the “weak” part of your lifts, but, Jones acknowledged this and explained the efficiencies and design of the cam and why overload was optimized at the optimal range where the most muscle was involved with those machines.

Same thing with statics. Personally, I’ve incorporated more partials, more isometrics into my training as there’s no point in going through full ROM and putting my joints through the grind. (Lighter weights, bodyweight? No worries there.) Anyone remember one of the first SuperSlow gym owners, Steve Maxwell? He talks about his return to slow reps and isometrics for this reason.

The stretch under tension and stressing the most amount of motor units is important…if your goal is to become as big and strong as possible.

I disagree with Pete Sisco on real life scenario’s, hes clearly never had to work a hard physical job. He advocates people load up leg press machines with ridiculously heavy weights and move mere inches at the top. I’d say that’s more dangerous and less effective than lifting a weight you can handle through an “effective” ROM.

This is not to say partials and static holds dont have their place, they do, but they should imo only be part of the overall picture.


Add intermittently with care and for short periods only. The Cost/Benefit analysis of extended statics does not Pay Off as you’d expect.


It is Ken Hutchins’ approach, not mine. I use and teach it, but can not claim any credit.

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I’ve used Ken’s Timed Static Contraction method in the past and there are some exercises that I really like to use it on.

Is there any research on whether or not statics, as Ken Hutchins’ advocates, would have an adverse effect on blood pressure?

I regularly use timed static contraction on simple exercises for shoulders, arms, chest, lats, hamstrings and hip adductors resulting in nice pumps and fullness for days after. I don’t like them for compound exercises and other muscle groups.

Not if done correctly.

I don’t know if this qualifies as true static holds , but I often use pausing for three seconds in the contracted position in non-lockout movements like lateral raises and pec deck and in the stretched position on stuff like dips , pushups between bars, etc.

If you’re holding a weight without movement, you are performing a static hold, but the term usually refers to only holding the weight without movement for the entire exercise. This is different than performing a timed static contraction, a different static (“isometric”) protocol.

I figured that but wasn’t sure. Also wondering if pausing like I do in the stretched position for a few seconds before starting the next step is ‘still’ considered doing singles … which was frowned upon by the HIT crowd many years ago, being considered a dangerous s way to do reps.

I always considered it safer since any bounce or momentum of the next rep was eliminated.

Depends on the exercise and equipment used and how you stop and start.

There is considerable research done that shows isometrics decrease blood pressure