January Squat Challenge
“HOLD THAT SQUAT”
Isometric training—also known as static strength training—is an underrated and underused
strength training method that can help you overcome a plateau in many of your lifts and
increase your overall strength.
What is isometric training?
When we train, our muscles typically contract in one of three ways (depending on the
movement). When we lower a weight—as is the case during the descent of a back squat—our
muscles tense while lengthening. This is known as an eccentric contraction. When we then lift
the weight, our muscles tense and contract to shorten the distance between the joints. This is a
concentric contraction. Lastly, our muscles can perform an isometric contraction. This happens
when the muscle contracts but doesn’t change length. Unlike traditional strength
training—where our muscles usually perform eccentric and concentric contractions through a
range of motion—isometric training is done in a static position. Think about pushing against an
immovable object—such as a wall—or holding a position of muscle tension without moving, like
a plank, a wall sit, or holding the bottom the position in a pause squat. Typically, many
isometric movements are done using body weight but athletes can also incorporate weighted
isometric positions into their training.
One of the most useful applications of isometric training as it pertains to weightlifting is that it
can help to build strength in movements that require large muscle contractions, and helps
athletes overcome ‘sticking points’ in those movements. During a dynamic lift—such as a
back squat—the muscles move through concentric and eccentric contractions. There is an
application of maximal force throughout the full range of motion in the lift, but it doesn’t allow for
the focus of that force and muscular tension at any particular stage of the lift. That’s where the
advantage of isometrics comes into play. GIDDY UP!!! By performing yielding isometric work
(which is where you hold a weight and your objective is to prevent it from dropping) or
overcoming isometric work (where you push or pull against an immovable resistance), you can
target particular stages of a lift where you struggle and apply your full force to strengthen that
area. AWESOME!!! For example, say you are super weak coming out of the hole in a back
squat…A good isometric drill to perform would involve loading a barbell with weight and
descending to a position just above full depth in the squat, and holding it for as long as possible.
The musculature around the joint angle at that specific body position will undergo sustained
stress for a longer period of time that could be achieved in a dynamic movement, thus providing
it with greater neuromuscular adaptations. So again, Isometric Training can be done with or
without weight which is pretty sweet!
So where do we go from here you say?…Well let’s have a little Challenge for you guys.
Starting Monday 1/11/16 and Ending 2/8/16 I challenge you to accumulate 60 MINUTES in a
static squat hold. These holds can be done with body weight or add a dumbbell or kettlebell as
a counter balance to keep your torso up nice and straight. We will designate a portion of the
whiteboard to keep track of your accumulated time. If you succeed and accumulate your 60
MINUTES you WIN a HIGH 5 from yours truly, Coach EATS! ROCK ON RCFBC’ers!