Max Contraction Training
- 09-26-2008, 10:29 AM
Max Contraction Training
I've recently been re-reading a whole bunch of old books, and some of those included Mike Mentzer's HIT books of years ago...and that's lead me onto reading a book called Static Contraction training by Pete Sisco and John Little (Little I believe writes for IronMan magazine)...
Somebody has now leant me a more up-to-date version of Static Contraction Training, called Max Contraction (by John Little).
The premise of the training concept is maximum muscle fibre rcruitment for maximum growth stimulation with low volume approach by overloading a muscle in its fully contracted position - where instead of repetitions, one causes progressive overload by time under tension and increased load.
Has anyone else every heard of this/or used this system? What kind of results could you imagine could realistically be gained from such a program?
- 09-26-2008, 03:36 PM
09-26-2008, 05:44 PM
Maximum muscle contraction is important for any workout in my opinion, since the whole point of lifting weights for bodybuilding is to utilize and overload as many muscle fibers as possible during the lifts. Unfortunately some people forget this, or never learn it at all, and you'll see them performing lifts in the gym as if to make them easier on themselves... As if the whole point was to lift the weight itself.
So if your goal is to bring as many muscle fibers into play as possible, overloading as many fibers as possible, there are a few techniques to employ during your lifts and workouts:
1.) Consciously contracting the muscle as hard as possible at the peak of the movement, even for a brief moment, will call more muscle fibers into play than if you didn't do this. The body tends to use as many muscle fibers as necessary to get the job done. So for example, when you're doing any type of chest press, at the top of the movement, when the pectoral muscles are already contracting to allow you to lift the weight, contract them even harder for a brief moment before you lower the weight back down. This ensures you're contracting as many muscle fibers as possible during the lift, rather than only the bare minimum. Or on biceps curls, at the top of the movement (never throw the bar back towards your shoulders as to take the weight off the biceps at any point), contract the biceps as hard as possible, ensuring maximum contraction. You can use this technique in many lifts.
2.) Stretching and flexing between sets not only pumps more blood and keeps more blood pumped into the muscles, allowing you to bring full intensity to the next set, but also, over time, increases flexibility. Also, flexing is essentially an isometric exercise in itself. When you flex, you're contracting some muscles that might not have been worked during your last set. So flexing and stretching before workouts, between sets, and after workouts is a great way to maintain and improve flexibility, ensure maximum intensity for the next set, improve definition, and is a good way to ensure as many muscle fibers are being contracted during the workout as possible. I also like to do a lot of stretching and flexing outside of my workout as well.
3.) You can do static holds on certain lifts to essentially get the same results as flexing between sets with the benefit of the resistance of gravity. Isometric muscle contractions force as many possible muscle fibers to contract during the exercise. I do some 15-20 second static holds at the end of exercises such as curls for the biceps, and straight arm raises for the shoulders. Usually I wait until I'm at the end of the workout, or at least the end of a set of exercises, rather than doing these after every set possible.
09-27-2008, 09:18 AM
max isometrics are great for teaching your body how to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. However, the strength gains that come with them are a few degrees in either direction of where you are holding the weight or pushing (this can help you through a sticking point) and the strength adaptions made are highly neurological. This can help you handle more weight later and lead to more muscle hypertrophy down the road but max isometrics are not very good for straight hypertrophy. In fact, they really are rarely used for that. They are a great tool though just not the end all be all.
09-29-2008, 08:26 AM
Thank you for the detailed replies. It would appear that the general consensus is that maximum contraction training has its merits, but as a stand alone hypertrophic training system (if thats a word), it falls short on some requisits for muscle building?
Is this because one actually needs to train a muscle through a full range of movement to stimulate growth, not simply overload a muscle fibre with progressive overload in its maximally contracted state for full fibre recruitment.
To be honest, Ive been training for nearly 15 years, but Im always interested and open minded to new suggestions for growth.
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