Jul
23
2012

The Future of Exercise

184 comments written by Joshua Trentine

The Future of Exercise

By Gus Diamantopoulos

In the Dumpers series, we explored the history of negative hyperloading, examined speed of motion and its relationship to machine resistance profiles and investigated the problems associated with equipment designed to facilitate so-called high-intensity training principles. We maintain that these are misguided strength-training tactics and their philosophical foundations are in contempt for the Definition of Exercise.

The time and money spent in designing and developing dumpers is staggering, and it is a shame that so much energy has gone into projects that are founded on faulty premises.

Despite the best of intentions, dumpers violate exercise equipment design principles, poorly address the challenge of effective and efficient muscular loading, and are orthopedically unsafe, particularly for subjects who are weak, frail or debilitated.

But although dumpers machines and philosophy may be unsound, the notion of a truly revolutionary and superior method of exercise and rehabilitation is not!

Since the release of our critiques the big question has been, “If negative hyperloading, rest pause, and motorized machines aren’t the ideal means to more efficient and effective muscular loading, then what is?”

We have made exhilarating progress with the RenEx Equipment line. Our machines satisfy crucially important criteria that are required for praxis of the Renaissance Exercise dynamic protocol. But there is another protocol for human muscular strengthening that may well rival dynamic exercise regardless of whether it is performed on gravity-based systems, with motors, or in any other technology. In fact, this protocol challenges the very idea that movement is required at all to strengthen the human musculature.

ISOMETRICS: What’s Old Is New Again

Generally speaking, isometrics is a type of self-resistance exercise that—supposedly—involves muscular contractions without a corresponding variation in muscle length. As the terminology suggests, it is exercise without movement.

However, some slight movement does occur within the muscle as well as with the involved joints. And some bending of the bones occurs. Note that the term, “contraction” means “shortening,” hence “movement,” while the purest rendering of the terminology means “without shortening,” hence, “without movement.” Note these inconsistencies as we explore the word origins in the following.

Isometric exercise is also commonly referred to as static and both terms are derived from the Greek language. The word isometric combines two prefixes, isos meaning “same” and metron meaning “distance.” Hence, in isometric exercise, although contraction forces may vary, the length of the muscle and the angle of the joint supposedly do not change. The word static comes from the word statikos meaning “causing to stand” or “fixed.”

Perhaps the true static in the isometric picture is the object being pushed against. It really does not move, at least not on a macroscopic level.

In contrast, isotonic contractions require variations in muscle length and joint angle but with supposedly unchanging muscular contraction forces. These types of contractions occur with dynamic exercise (as opposed to static) and they occur with movement.

A relatively newer term is isokinetic contraction. It implies that movement occurs at a constant rate of muscular shortening. However, attempts to impose a constant angular speed to the involved joint actually imposes a varying linear contraction speed to the involved muscle. Pure isokinetic muscular contraction is a fantasy. Again, the word more describes the behavior of the equipment applied to the body than to the behavior of the body.

As we can appreciate, the technical terms do not accurately describe the muscular experience, but they do give us a rough idea of what to expect with our gross behavior.

The concept of isometric exercise (or self-resistance) is actually thousands of years old and has been practiced in one form or another since the earliest days of recorded history.

Static holds of varying types have been practiced in traditional Yoga and Chinese martial arts disciplines for centuries. In the west, the ancient Greeks, renowned for their superlative physical condition, employed isometrics in wrestling, gymnastics and even for demonstrations of strength.

Eugene Sandow

But it wasn’t until the latter half of the nineteenth century that isometric exercise began to be formally documented and published for the general public. Strongmen such as Eugene Sandow became the first muscular celebrities to achieve star status with the public. They not only entertained with their impressive physiques and their feats of strength, they also inspired by showing people how they too could learn the special techniques for physical improvement, thus opening the door to the first marketing of strength- training materials. Many strongmen made their livings publishing manuals, books, and how-to courses—some featuring isometric techniques that were highly sought-after.

Isometrics actually became one of the most saleable techniques because it required little or no special equipment, and there were innumerable exercises and strategies that could be described for the layperson. Moreover, isometrics was a legitimate and results-producing technique that many actually used as part of their program to genuinely develop their strength and skill.

It wasn’t long before scientists took an interest in the study of isometrics. In 1920, researchers at Springfield College in Massachusetts observed a fascinating phenomenon while studying the effects of muscular inactivity. The medical community had been inundated with large numbers of wounded soldiers who were poorly attended because of staff shortages. With so many soldiers lying motionless for so long, the fear was that severe atrophy would lead to disabling paralysis. The researchers needed to know how long this would take to occur so that they could prioritize who required attention first.

In a somewhat celebrated experiment, a group of frogs was studied. Each frog had one of its legs bound to a fixed object and completely immobilized while the other leg was allowed free movement. This simulated the paralyzed limbs of the wounded soldiers. The frogs were maintained in this state for two weeks.

The presumption of this frog study was that the restrained legs would become weaker over time because of immobility as compared to the freely moving legs. Then extrapolations could be made about the rate of atrophy to help the wounded soldiers.

To the astonishment of the researchers, however, precisely the opposite occurred! When the bindings were removed, it was revealed that the bound leg muscles were larger and stronger than the freely moving legs. Reportedly, so disproportionate was the strength in the bound legs that the frogs now jumped lopsided.

Unwittingly, the researchers had substantiated the concept of isometric exercise. The conclusion was that the restrained frogs struggled continuously throughout the test interval, thus contracting their muscles against the immovable bindings. And these contractions resulted in extraordinary muscle fiber stimulation, recruitment and, in the end, muscular development.

Incredibly, though the researchers published their findings, they determined that the results were inapplicable to human beings, and so the study was shelved. One possible explanation for this is that the researchers may have believed that it was necessary to experience immobility for protracted time periods just like the frogs, rendering the technique impractical for humans.

A few decades later, however, in 1953, a pair of young German physiologists at the Max Planck Institute revisited the Springfield study. The physiologists were Hettinger and Muller. They applied and measured the effects of isometric exercise to human subjects. But unlike the passive immobilization of the frogs’ limbs, Hettinger and Muller instructed their subjects to actively apply volitional effort to the isometric events.

What they found was that intense contraction of muscles against immovable objects increased strength by measurable values on a week-to-week basis. They claimed as much as a 5% increase in strength per week. Moreover, these strength increases occurred after an incredibly disproportionate brevity of activity. The contractions were applied for as little as five or six seconds, once each day.

Although many researchers later claimed similar results, others have failed to replicate the findings of the Germans.

We now know that the concept of measuring strength is not a simple one, and that almost all attempts to accurately and reliably measure strength have been hampered by difficulties. These include the problem of valid definitions for terms such as “strength” and “exercise,” as well as the challenges of dynamometry (equipment and measuring tools) that would support such measurement. The only workable tool developed to do this is the static MedX strength testing equipment. And the MedX was not available until the later 1980s.

Despite the interest of researchers and scientists in isometrics, it was the strongmen, again, who truly popularized isometrics for the public.

Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman, founder of the York Barbell Company, used isometrics when he coached Olympic record-breaking weightlifters Lou Riecke and Bill March. Unfortunately it was revealed that they also used anabolic steroids in addition to their isometric techniques. This prompted insinuations of deception against Hoffman and those who promoted isometrics as the protocol of choice for strength training.

Despite the bad rap, by the early 1960s isometrics application was widespread. Professional athletes like Mickey Mantle used isometrics, as did President Kennedy. Isometric training programs were adapted by coaches and used in high school athletic programs. Isometric how-to digests were found at grocery store check out stands, and mail order courses appeared in comic books and on the backs of cereal boxes.

Many readers might remember the famous (and successful) program of Charles Atlas, which taught a kind of isometric exercise that he called “dynamic tension.” In Atlas’s version, individual body parts were pitted against each other in a calisthenics-type of “self-resistance.”

Another influential proponent of isometrics—perhaps one of the most well known—was actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee. Lee’s physique was astounding in its muscularity, athleticism and strength. It is noteworthy that he wrote meticulously about his belief in brief and intense strength-building exercise as an adjunct to his martial arts training.

Bruce Lee

In particular, Lee was a fiercely devoted advocate of isometrics. Apparently, Lee discovered isometrics after a bad back injury sustained during traditional weight training. He applied Bob Hoffman’s eight-exercise, whole-body “Functional Isometric Contraction System” using a conventional power-rack and also employed routines using common training aids such as ropes, towels, belts and simply his own bodyweight. Lee recommended contractions and holds of 6-12 seconds at what he called “100-percent” effort. Interestingly, this is what remains as the most common approach to isometrics today.

Lee’s physique and charisma attracted many would-be martial artists and bodybuilders, but the isometric technique itself remained somewhat unrecognized. Compared to the kinetic fury of Bruce Lee’s vaunted martial arts skills, isometrics seemed an ascetic, lackluster technique at best.

Bullworker

By the mid 1970s, isometrics was a passing fad. Other than some basic bullworkers, rehashes of how-to manuals, pamphlets, and sideline physical therapy guidelines, isometrics just fizzled-out.

Mike Mentzer

In the 1990s isometrics enjoyed a mini revival when former Mr. Universe and Jonesian disciple Mike Mentzer wrote about his predilection for static holds. Initially, his program detailed a protocol that included the dynamic portion of the lift as well as the static, but later claimed that statics alone may be all that is necessary. His techniques were briefly popular with some bodybuilders, but for the most part, statics remained on the sidelines.

The trouble with sustaining interest in isometrics is that most people are much more interested in the familiarity of physical movement rather than in the potential results that could be achieved with a focused and disciplined approach.

Today, with the rapid proliferation of the modern commercial health club, the public is able to enjoy the pursuit of fitness in an environment that offers a level of stimulation equal to that of an amusement park.

In much the same way, the explosion of home exercise devices over the past 40 years has helped to crystallize the idea of exercise as entertainment.

With television marketing exploding in the 1980s, crafty advertisers and manufacturers of junky exercise gizmos quickly capitalized on a naïve public’s dream that exercise could actually be fun. Now the promise of success was ever more glamorous, inspiring and even hopeful. Who wants to hear about focus, discipline, effort and willpower when fun is all you need?

Amazingly, fitness advertising has worked beautifully. Despite the appalling failure rate of home exercise devices, people continue to waste their money for a piece of the promise of tight abs and sexy legs. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a successful fitness enterprise that does NOT include “fun” as a primary marketing feature. Fitness and fun have become more than just alliteration; today, they’re practically synonymous.

However, in spite of isometrics’ present lack of popularity, its effectiveness is undeniable. There are still concerns for safety with traditional isometrics; but as we will soon reveal, in the ideal environment, with an exacting protocol, proper instruction, and sophisticated equipment, isometrics can rival almost all other forms of exercise.

Types of Isometric Exercise:
Overcoming Isometrics vs. Yielding Isometrics

In any isometric exercise the muscle(s) can contract against an immovable object or force. This is called an “overcoming isometric contraction.” Alternatively, muscles can contract against a potentially moving resistance as the joints remain held in a static position. This is called a “yielding isometric contraction.”

Example:

In a RenEx Leg Press machine, a yielding isometric is achieved with a subject pushing the loaded movement arm (carriage) to the midrange position and holding it motionless in spite of the fact that the carriage can be moved positively or negatively. In this position, the subject contracts the involved muscles to keep the carriage (and his joints) motionless, although it and the weights are otherwise free to move positively or negatively.

In the same machine, an overcoming isometric is achieved by locking the carriage with the endpoint stop at the same midrange position described above. The carriage cannot move positively. The subject contracts his muscles as if he is trying to positively move the carriage.

In the first situation, with the yielding isometric, assuming he remains motionless, the subject is producing a force output that is precisely equal to the resistance that is selected. The force used to hold the aforementioned midrange position is exactly that necessary to remain motionless with the resistance, neither producing positive nor negative work. (This is what Mike Mentzer referred to as “static holds” in his book, Heavy Duty II: Mind and Body.)

In the second situation, with the overcoming isometric, the subject can and may produce any force output value from zero to whatever maximum limit is desired, and he will never be able to move the carriage because it is locked.

In the yielding isometric, muscular force output (not effort) remains the same, because the resistance never changes. The resistance remains constant as the subject increasingly struggles to balance between the positive and the negative phases in an attempt to remain motionless. Gravity acts upon the weights and therefore also upon the subject’s neurological and muscular systems. In this case, the subject can only produce more effort (due to fatigue as time passes), but not more or less force as either would result in movement.

In the overcoming isometric example, muscular force output can vary wildly because effort is generated entirely volitionally with no outside imperative from an imposed resistance. Resistance in this case is said to be self-generated. The subject must willfully choose to generate both effort and force, and both can be regulated to greater or lesser values. In other words, the subject may experience any of the following scenarios:

  • He may produce less effort and decrease force output.
  • He may produce more effort and increase force output.
  • He may produce maximum effort but necessarily decrease force output because of fatigue over time.

It is even possible to face a yielding isometric while at the same time engaging in an overcoming isometric. In the example of the Leg Press, such a combined approach is to press a loaded carriage to the midrange position, but instead of simply randomly stopping at the midrange, set the endpoint stop. The subject is now stopped by an immovable endpoint stop that he can push harder against (overcoming) while still having to contend with the resistance of the weight stack acting upon him (yielding). In this case, the subject can produce greater or lesser effort with increased or decreased force into the endpoint stop, but he has no choice but to necessarily, simultaneously contract against the potentially moving resistance to remain at the end-point stop so as to disallow the negative phase.

Whether it is in an exercise with an endpoint stop (combined yielding/overcoming) or with no endpoint stop (yielding), this is what we do with the squeeze technique in RenEx dynamic protocol. The squeeze technique is essentially a graduated isometric technique (not a Timed Static Contraction) within the isotonic event. It is designed to more quickly fatigue the working musculature and deepen the inroad effect, thus satisfying the real objective of the exercise.

Note that momentary muscular failure is essentially an isometric event within the isotonic excursion. Only with muscular failure, the isometric portion is not intentional; it is a result of a conflict between the reduced force output capabilities of the subject and the resistance at the precise moment in the set where the subject’s strength is at or just below the value of the resistance.

Among and between yielding and overcoming isometrics lies the entire spectrum of the more traditional approaches to static exercise. But with these traditional approaches, a vital element has almost always been missing. Whether it’s Charles Atlas’ dynamic tension pitting biceps against triceps, Bob Hoffman’s whole body power-rack workout, or Mike Mentzer’s static holds, all of these approaches share the common element of relatively instantaneous, high-intensity contractions for extremely brief durations.

In almost all isometric exercise manuals, the general instruction is to produce maximum force output within a few seconds of time. In most cases, the time frame seems to be around 5-10 seconds. This is where the Renaissance Exercise approach to isometrics differs dramatically.

ISOMETRICS 2.0: Timed Static Contraction (TSC)

[Editor’s Note: Much of this section is from The Renaissance of Exercise by Ken Hutchins]

In the early 1990s, Stephen Maxwell alerted Ken Hutchins to John Little’s writings about static contractions. Little was the editor of Flex magazine at the time and he explained a protocol—Timed Static Contractions (TSC)—whereby an isometric effort is applied for a continuous duration of two minutes (overcoming isometrics). This duration is divided into four 30-second quarters.

  • The first quarter is applied with an—albeit subjective—25% effort. (Read “minimal” effort.)
  • The second quarter is applied with a 50% effort, sometimes referred to as a “moderate effort.”
  • The third quarter is applied with a 75% effort, also termed “almost as hard as possible.”
  • The fourth quarter is applied with a 100% effort.

Maxwell emphasized that these static contractions were very useful for subjects with special problems such as poor motor control or injuries.

Ken immediately recognized that such a different protocol of isometric exercise has a legitimate place in the Renaissance Exercise philosophy. This was certainly not the isometrics of Charles Atlas nor was it in any way associated with the dangerous application favored by the MedX testing procedure.

What distinguishes TSC protocol from almost all other types of isometrics is a comparatively protracted duration and progressively escalating stages of effort.

By extending the contraction force over a longer period of time, the subject can experience all of the muscular benefits of dynamic exercise. What’s more, for the first time, the exercise event can be considered truly uninterrupted. In fact, we believe that the entire musculature becomes involved—regardless of position—with a continuous loading of adequate duration. Ken surmised that with enough continuous contraction time, the nervous system appears to recruit any and all fibers in the targeted musculo-tendinous unit.. The effect serves to spread out the inroading along the entire length of the musculature.

We have always maintained that the most important aspect for muscular stimulation is continuous, uninterrupted loading of the structures carried to a point of momentary muscular fatigue. But even the most disciplined and devoted trainee is at the mercy of an instinctively efficient body that is always seeking respites and pauses in dynamic excursions.

With TSC however, because the joints do not move, and only the musculature contracts, there is nowhere to escape. If a subject loads gradually and remains loaded continuously over the intended duration, it is almost impossible to find respite, which guarantees more-thorough inroading.

We contend that TSC goes beyond the Renaissance Exercise dynamic protocol in several respects. Although Renaissance Exercise is the most conservative—with respect to safety—of all dynamic protocols, Timed Static Contraction is yet more conservative.

So if the RenEx protocol (10-seconds positive, 10-seconds negative) is safer than the subject walking from his car to the front door of Ken’s studio—and it is, due to a host of control factors, TSC is safer than the subject lying in bed. Most of the time, lying in bed is a passive, thoughtless event. The subject is not remaining thoughtfully protective. But with TSC, the subject is actively alert to internal sensations and is able to deliberately modulate effort to heed alarms, if any.

Since learning of TSC, Ken’s discussions with Dr. Doug McGuff led him to decrease the time under load to 90 seconds for most applications. The current verbiage for the three stages is now: “moderate effort,” “almost as hard as you dare,” and “as hard as you dare.” This is estimated as a subjective 50/75/100 percent effort.

And its usual 50/75/100 percent can be made yet more conservative. A therapist may prefer 25/50/75/75, 25/50/50/75, 25/50/50/75/75 or 50/75/75/100.

Also, the subject—since he is not needing to monitor his motion—can completely devote his attention to what he is contracting and how he is contracting it. And this attention includes keen awareness of pain and its threshold as he applies greater effort. Thus, the subject can volitionally remain just under any threshold of pain or fear.

TSC may also permit the subject better control and mastery of ventilation and extraneous musculature relaxation. It offers more control all around.

Until recently, the biggest drawback of TSC has been that the protocol is essentially “blind.” Neither the instructor nor the subject can know the forces being generated by the working subject. Surprisingly, staging effort even blindly has proven to be remarkably effective for us. But we must admit that we cannot quantify performance and progression with the blind application of TSC.

Closely linked to this is a common psychological aversion to static contraction. Many subjects refuse to be denied the sense of completion and accomplishment obtained from lifting a weight or making a movement arm move. Their truculence in this regard is also related to the fact that not only are they motionless, but they also have no external feedback to confirm or refute their static efforts.

Most people possess inadequate discipline to progressively internalize to satisfy advanced TSC efforts. This is perhaps one of the reasons why aficionados of isometrics like Mentzer favoured heavy-weight static holds (yielding isometrics) rather than a more pure overcoming strategy. The potentially moving weight in a yielding isometric has a kind of proprioceptive value that strangely provides a sense of feedback as well as satisfaction.

Regardless of all of the drawbacks mentioned, TSC is potentially the most physiologically demanding, effective, and efficient muscular loading and stimulation strategy known. This is not a statement to be taken lightly. We are submitting that TSC rivals not only other static protocols, but that it indeed rivals dynamic protocol for pure stimulation of the target structures.

Regardless of intensity, however, several seemingly disparate relationships must be understood regarding TSC exercise before it can be practiced.

First, in any TSC exercise, the subject must learn how to gradually apply force. As we have seen, isometric exercises are typically performed with abrupt or sudden loading to maximum intensity. TSC, on the other hand, requires a gradual increase of the subject’s force output.

Second, this gradually applied force must not immediately reach maximum effort. Gradually applying force to 100% effort is only a marginal improvement over abruptly applying force to 100%. To rephrase this for clarity, force must be gradually applied AND applied only up to the requisite effort level. Thus, in the first stage, force must be applied gradually, but only up to moderate effort… never beyond!

Third, it must be understood that force output is not necessarily the equivalent of effort. As time passes during a TSC, the subject’s force production capability precipitously decreases. In the early stage of a set, the more force that is produced, the greater the effort may be. But at some critical juncture during the set, effort and force output necessarily become inverse elements. By the end of the set, maximum effort may yield near non-existent force output.

As we will reveal, with load-sensing technology, we have the ability to precisely know the subject’s force output, but effort remains an uncertainty regardless of any technology. However, all we can know of effort is either 0%, which can be characterized as “no effort” AND 100% or “all-out effort.”

Suggesting that force does not equal effort is an intellectually obvious statement, but it is one that is actually very difficult to grasp viscerally. The inverse relationship that occurs between force and effort over time during a TSC is vexing to most subjects until they are made aware of it.

In a broader sense, this is also what most exercise equipment manufacturers fail to acknowledge when they are designing resistance curves for their machines. When you design a machine for exercising the human body you are designing a mechanism that will be driven by an ever-weakening organic engine. The moment the human subject (the “organic engine”) begins to drive the device (exercise on the machine), his capability for force production is immediately, necessarily, and exponentially decreasing as inroading takes place.

If you build the machine according to this understanding, then you can teach the subject that the goal of exercise is to inroad, to fatigue and to actually fail. If you do not, then the subject is left with but one simple recourse: perform in such a way to as get as many reps as possible, as quickly as possible, with the most weight as possible, thus, effectively violating the principles of the real objective of exercise.

It is for this reason that RenEx equipment is designed with the customized resistance variation profiles that initially appear so radical to the uninitiated. They are a manifestation of our acceptance and understanding of how our muscles produce force, how we fatigue, and how effort is the grand negotiator.

TSC represents the next step toward the evolution of this understanding. But since the inception of TSC, instructors and subjects alike have been at the mercy of conjecture when it comes to evaluating effort. The best we’ve been able to do is to rely on best-guess estimates within the limits of our equipment and our experiences as instructors.

With the staged TSC protocol we have had exceptional success in our own workouts and with many of our clients. For others, however, the blind approach was just too abstract. And we understand their complaints. The human need for measuring, quantifying and comparing (especially in exercise) is deeply ingrained in both our instincts and in our culture.

But in a twist of irony it would be this most basic need for measurement that would push one of Ken Hutchins’ students to a new development in TSC that would take Renaissance Exercise on a path straight to the future of exercise.

TSC Gets Eyes and the First “iMachine” Is Born

[Editor’s Note: In keeping with the conventions established in The Renaissance of Exercise by Ken Hutchins, names of machines begin with upper case. Names of exercises begin with lower case. This minimizes confusion when the name of a machine is the same name as the name of an exercise that may or may not be performed in said machine.]

I designed my exercise studio, The Strength Room, to best represent what Ken Hutchins describes in his Renaissance of Exercise as the ideal Renaissance Exercise facility. It is completely private, austere, climate-controlled, distraction-free and with a full complement of the most uncompromising equipment exclusively devoted to Renaissance Exercise protocol.

It has always been my mission to provide for my clients only equipment that facilitates mastery of the protocol. This is the main reason that I developed the prototype of what would become the RenEx Ultra Glide top-plate system used in all the RenEx equipment weight stacks.

For similar reasons, I was adamant that the TSC protocol could be significantly improved if there was some way to quantify the effects of the exercise. Ken had alluded to this possibility, but never took it this far. A feedback system eliminates the primary drawback of the protocol, thus enabling both instructor and subject to embark on a truly progressive exercise or rehabilitation program.

In 2005, I developed a system for computerized force measurement for the Static Pullover machine that Ken Hutchins had produced some years earlier. His SuperSlow® Static Pullover was a remarkably effective machine that virtually eliminated the numerous orthopaedic risks associated with the dynamic Pullover. Additionally, it provided for a highly productive upper body workout.

My design featured load cells that received force input from the machine’s arm pad. These load cells converted force into an electrical signal that was then interpolated through computer software to display a graphical relationship of force and time on a monitor.

When the system was activated and the subject pushed his arms onto the pad, a force line-graph was displayed in real time. As force was increased on the load sensors, the line travelled up and across the screen. The system was exceptionally responsive and displayed an instantaneous representation of loading with the amplitude of the force line. The periodicity of the peaks and valleys directly correlated to the subject’s force output. This immediacy of feedback has been critically important in creating the positive feedback loop phenomenon that subjects experience in all of the new iMachines by Renaissance Exercise Equipment, LTD.

For the first time, it is actually possible for both the instructor and the working subject to observe and measure the precise force output during a set of TSC, in effect providing the subject with the isometric equivalent of a weight stack going up and down. In fact, this is far superior to any dynamic exercise feedback because it is so much more precise.

Force measurement and feedback means no more guesswork. It provides the unique ability to perform visually progressive, staged, timed static exercise with a level of control and certainty never before possible. Most importantly, this system provides that we can finally “see” the most nebulous variable in all of exercise: effort.

Static Pullover Meets Static Pulldown

Classically, the Pullover machine was intended to be used as a pre-exhaust mate for pulldown exercise. In the 1970s and 80s, Nautilus produced a number of combination-type machines that permitted the subject to perform a dyad of exercises in pre-exhaust fashion within the same station.

In pre-exhaust, two different exercises are performed in a back-to-back sequence with as little rest as possible between. Most commonly, a simple (single-joint) exercise (such as a pullover) was performed first and then followed by a compound (multiple-joint) exercise such as a pulldown These “double” machines were elaborate mechanisms that were heavy, friction-laden, and expensive, but they did help to underscore how important it is to keep the rest time between the dyad exercises to an absolute minimum.

The old Jonesian dictum was that momentary muscular recovery from complete momentary muscular failure was in half-lives of three seconds. Whether accurate or not, this statement represented that once a subject completely failed in an exercise—to the point that the subject’s involved musculature was dysfunctional—it was functional enough to perform one repetition of the exercise after about three seconds of rest. And with another doubling or two of rest time, it was almost back to where the original inroading began.

Certainly, momentary muscular recovery is very fast. Therefore, the best effect from pre-exhaustion—assuming one deems pre-exhaustion efficacious to employ—requires a restricted unload between the two exercises. Merely rushing to the secondary exercise in another machine nearby renders the pre-exhaustion effect from the primary exercise slight-to-nothing. This allows too much rest.

Although the Static Pullover machine alone was very productive, we believed that mating a Static Pulldown to it could make it extraordinary.

In 2009, I collaborated with Ken to develop a vertically adjustable pulldown handle directly above the Static Pullover pad. With the new Pullover/Pulldown setup it was possible—from the same seated position—to go from static pullover exercise to static pulldown exercise with a transition time of less than one second! This level of expediency between exercises not only satisfied the Nautilus version of pre-exhaust, it created an entirely new benchmark for the term.

Josh Trentine and the Toronto Experiment

To understand the impact of the combination Static Pullover/Pulldown machine and to see it in the context of how deeply a subject can be inroaded, we can look to an informal experiment that I conducted with Josh Trentine.

In the summer of 2009, Josh visited The Strength Room to test the new Static Pullover/Pulldown prototype. Josh had experienced the Static Pullover with feedback system, but this pre-exhaust combination device would be something completely new for him.

We developed a strategy to examine the magnitude of the inroad effect of the Static Pullover/Pulldown. The static exercises were performed to thorough inroad (90 seconds each set) and then followed immediately by a set of dynamic pulldowns for repetitions on my low-friction retrofitted SuperSlow® Systems Pulldown machine.

The plan used 120 lbs on the dynamic Pulldown. Although seemingly random, this weight represented a load that Josh and I both appreciated as a completely manageable resistance for Josh. In the past he had performed dynamic pullovers as pre-exhaust exercise for the pulldown in his own studio and 140 lbs typified a moderate weight for the Pulldown machine. Since it was hypothesized that the combination Static Pullover/Pulldown would be more demanding than other similar pre-exhaust techniques, 120lbs seemed like a good starting point while still permitting a good number of repetitions on the dynamic exercise.

At 62 degrees Fahrenheit, the studio temperature was brisk, and I had many of the fans already turned on so that Josh did not overheat during the experiment.

The machines were set up, and Josh entered the Static Pullover/Pulldown. After a well-performed, gradual build-up in the first third of the pullover exercise, Josh reached a peak force output of 170 lbs. He was able to sustain this for almost 30 more seconds in the second phase before he began to display signs of serious fatigue. His breathing became more laboured, and, as his pelvic tilt exaggerated, his legs began to tremble. As difficulty intensified, Josh’s force output began to fall precipitously, and the trembling became worse. Eventually his breathing became extremely rapid and his face reddened. By the final 10 seconds, Josh was only capable of producing 70 lbs of force.

Though obviously exhausted, Josh managed to get his hands up to the Pulldown handle immediately after concluding his pullover set, thus commencing the static pulldown portion of the exercise dyad. Now, his fresh arm muscles (biceps) were driving his already fatigued shoulder, back and midsection muscles to even greater inroad.

After 30 seconds of gradual loading, Josh peaked to sustain approximately 130 lbs—50 lbs less than his peak pullover force. But because of the cumulative effects of the pullover, 130 lbs felt monstrously difficult. By this point, his arms and back had swollen vastly, and he was experiencing severe and irrepressible oxygen debt. At the one-minute mark, his body was shaking uncontrollably from head to toe. As he approached the final seconds of the set, Josh’s massive effort was accompanied by involuntary, guttural vocalizations. His force output had decreased to less than 50 lbs. When he finally released his grip, his arms literally fell to his sides in a lifeless heap.

Although Josh was extremely breathless at this point, I had to exit him from the Static Pullover/Pulldown and quickly get him to the dynamic Pulldown which waited just steps away. Time was of the essence. Fortunately, his lower body was mostly unaffected and he could walk with no difficulty.

I helped him enter the Pulldown machine and then facilitated the transfer of the handle. After a minute of  rest, Josh initiated the first rep. Incredibly however, after mere inches of weight stack travel, Josh was unable to move the 120-lb weight. In fact, despite his greatest motivation, he couldn’t even budge it!

We were both astonished that he could not perform even one repetition, but I had little time to dwell on this. I had to reduce the weight, thus incurring additional undesirable rest in this test. I selected 90 lbs, and for a moment I wondered if this was perhaps too light. But as Josh initiated the exercise for the second time, again he was unable to complete a single repetition. At this point he was gasping as he tried repeatedly to pull the bar down. No movement.

Our combined incredulity was palpable. It would take one final, absurd reduction to a comical 60 lbs that would finally permit Josh to perform a meagre two repetitions before all-out fatigue consumed him.

Joshua Trentine

It was almost unbelievable. After 90 seconds of static pullover and 90 seconds of static pulldown, Josh was reduced to a mere 60 lbs of weight for only two possible repetitions on the dynamic pulldown exercise.

To appreciate the significance of this, consider that Josh had previously worked on the dynamic Pulldown machine with weight in excess of 220 lbs for five-plus strict Renaissance Exercise protocol repetitions. That 60 lbs was so challenging to him following the static workout unquestionably supports Ken Hutchins’ Intensity vs. Work in Exercise argument (see Chapter 8 in the Renaissance of Exercise, Volume I). In fact, it gives rise to an entirely new paradigm for human muscle strengthening and officially opens the door to the future of exercise.

Note another little detail. The so called pump from Josh’s static dyad was beyond belief. In fact, the notion of pump assumes movement… right?… likened to the pumping action of movement in order to achieve such? Not so!

The Future of Exercise: Enter the iMachines

The Renaissance Exercise approach to Timed Static Contraction marks the exciting beginning of a revolutionary new era in exercise and rehabilitation. Our new iMachines represent the technological manifestation of Timed Static Contraction protocol. These machines facilitate ideal human biomechanics and feature sophisticated force measurement technology to amplify all of the advantages of TSC while at the same time eliminating virtually all of the drawbacks. Most of all, they offer a level of safety that has no equal and has never been approached before.

By far the most exciting application for the iMachines is in the field of research. Although strength training as an exercise discipline naturally lends itself to scientific investigation, it has actually been poorly studied.

For instance, NASA studied isometric exercise as a way to preserve bone density in weightless environments. NASA’s findings were disappointing. It is our suspicion that the researchers employed the traditional approach of brief, 5-15-second bouts of maximum effort. As already mentioned, we see such short intervals and such abrupt and high-effort levels to be dangerous and poorly stimulating to the muscular growth mechanism.

If our suspicion regarding NASA’s approach to isometrics is correct, we might ask why research in dynamic weight training does not exclusively employ one-repetition maximum lifts to serve as “weight training?” This appears to be the same incorrect line of thinking.

With TSC protocol we can effectively control variables such as speed and range of motion without the added complications of form discrepancies. Combining TSC protocol with the iMachines offers a completely new and refined method for quantifying, documenting and studying data. This provides the researcher with unprecedented precision and control for testing and verification of variables in exercise that, until recently, have been nearly impossible to standardize.

For instance, the RenEx protocol—10 seconds positive, 10 seconds negative—is the best dynamic protocol to teach and standardize. Nevertheless, obtaining subjects who perform the protocol consistently enough to standardize a research study may consume weeks from the limited time of the study. TSC on the iMachines still requires informed instruction, but the subject’s learning curve is greatly lessened in slope and length.

Note the graph below. Note that it is a depiction of what happens on the graphical feedback display of any of the RenEx iMachines. As you will see later, the actual force tracings oscillate in amplitude, but for ease of explanation, we are pretending these tracings to be smooth, dashed lines.

Force is displayed on the vertical axis at the far left. Time is displayed on the horizontal axis at the bottom.

The dashed green horizontal line is our chosen target force.

The dashed orange line is the subject’s potential strength curve when effort is slowly increased from the beginning of the exercise. The subject is capable of producing this tracing, but if he does produce it past the green target line, his risk of injury increases.

The dashed red line represents the force magnitude at which the muscle is injured. This can occur in several ways—singularly or in combination. One or more of the tendons can avulse off the bone, sometimes pulling bone fragments out with the avulsion. A tearing might occur at the musculo-tendonous junction—a place known for weakness in some musculatures.

Note that as the orange line moves on past the green line its distance to the red line decreases. This decrease represents a narrowing of the margin of safety. Therefore, we want the subject to hug the green line during the exercise, thus producing the blue trace.

Note the initial slope of the blue line. This is appropriate. A strictly vertical blue tracing here demonstrates a violent application of force that can shoot past the green target line directly to the red injury line. The feedback of this tracing serves to be highly instructional to novice subjects.

Note that once the blue tracing encounters the green target line, if within the subject’s ability, it appropriately hugs the target line for the duration of the exercise. In this situation, the target is set too low to achieve failure.

But in the case depicted above, it trails downward near completion of the 90-second set. It falls below the target line because the subject is failing. The target force selected in this case is perfect.

Note that failure attained or not, the subject’s strength inroads. The orange line eventually goes down. Where it actually resides for a particular subject at a particular load at any instant, we do not know, AND we don’t want to know!

These methods and machines are not for strength testing! A usually passive or backhanded statement style for saying this is the quintessential: “Strength testing is not recommended.” or “Strength testing is contraindicated.” We are more direct: “Strength testing with RenEx iMachines is dangerous, unethical, unnecessary, inaccurate, and crass!”

Nevertheless, the depiction shows that the yellow line eventually intersects the target line and hugs the blue line as the subject fails—going below the green line—before the completion of the 90-second set.

Assumably, as the blue line depicts falling force output, the subject’s effort is 100% AND the safety margin is increasing!

What’s more, observe the yellow line as it falls below the target force. Both before and after that point we have a negative-work effect that is far more profound than any dumper can provide! Providing a so-called hyperloaded negative dynamically is inefficient, clumsy, unnecessary, and dangerous. This completely replaces the dumpers!

What’s more, we have observed increases in range of motion in rehabilitation subjects who performed no dynamic exercise or stretching programs.

What’s more, we observe profound vascular effects! And this occurs without gross movement!

What’s more, the popular ballyhoo regarding the benefits of vibration plates evaporates when the internal vibration of the muscle is graphically displayed as in the performance graph below. Of course, this vibration occurs in dynamic exercise as well. It’s just that Feedback TSC isolates and exposes it!

This is extremely exciting!! At last, we can pose and perhaps answer some very important questions. For example:

  • Where in the inroad process does the stimulus occur?
  • With a novice does the stimulus point occur before failure?
  • Does the stimulus move to a deeper inroad depth as the subject grows closer to his potential?
  • What does this Feedback TSC portent for establishing the ideal frequency and duration of the routine?
  • How might Feedback TSC be applied to circumvent obstacles to exercise involving a host of specific debilities and conditions?
  • How effective is Feedback TSC for bone density maintenance and the allowance for exercise in extreme conditions such as weightless environments?
  • Can we finally substantiate the inroad theory once and for all?
  • Might we find that inroad can be too deep?
  • Might we find that inroad depth must be balance against several other factors?
  • And many others…

Another application is rehabilitation.

Pretend that you encounter a subject who has injured himself and he desires to know exactly how far he can safely push himself. With instruction, he begins to generate the blue line on a very conservative slope. As he just feels the hint of discomfort—no matter where its origin—we designate a red line at that force level.

We now know the cusp of his pain threshold!

In subsequent workouts, if the red line moves up, he is improving. If not, not. If moving downward, something is amiss—either with his exercise program or something else he is doing in his daily life.

This is what the physical medicine professionals have been searching for the last 100 years. We now have it!

Here is a picture of an actual graph just after completion of both exercises performed on the iPOPD:

Note that commencing the static pullover exercise, the subject gradually climbed to his target force of 65 lbs. Then he held it perfectly until his instructor said the cue word, “move,” to go to the static pulldown exercise. He then built almost to his pulldown target force of 70 lbs quickly but without spiking past the target force. Greater oscillation amplitude and frequency ensued as he fought valiantly to attain the target and maintain it. Eventually, his inroading overtook his will and his trace diminished before the completion of the 90-second set.

Judging from the first set (segment of the pullover), his target force needs increasing for the subsequent workout. Judging from the second set (segment of the pulldown), his target force is to remain the same at his next workout. Indeed, the second segment may show more and sooner inroad at its end due to the increased target force of the first segment. To our elated surprise, we have observed both segments to require target increases after just such an increase in the target force in one of the segments!

Meet the iMachines

Our iPOPD machine (Static Pullover/Pulldown) provides the purest interpretation of the influential Nautilus Pullover. It is also furnished with the means to perform the follow-up compound pulling exercise with virtually zero rest—a facet of the pre-exhaust concept that could never be ideally brought to fruition until now. And all of this is possible without a hint of danger to the integrity of the neck and shoulders.

On our RenEx Leg Press, the force measurement system allows for dynamic as well as static readings for leg press as well as heel raise exercise. With TSC protocol, leg press is now possible even for subjects with the most debilitated hips, knees and backs. As for the truly strong and muscular subject, Leg Press takes on a whole new meaning of intensity.

Other Feedback TSC machines are on the way! We will announce them as their photography becomes available.

The newest machine developed in our TSC line is the iMulti-Exercise. As its name suggests, this special device permits the performance of more than 12 Feedback TSC exercises, each equipped with the technology of computerized force measurement feedback. Go from delicate neck or shoulder rehabilitation to highly motivated “tank emptying” on static compound row within seconds on one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment ever available.

 

The iMachines represent the official Renaissance Exercise response to dumpers machines and their underlying philosophy. Unlike negative hyperloaders and motorized devices, the iMachines are fully consistent with the Definition of Exercise. Their use requires that the working subject understands and implements the real objective of exercise. On an iMachine, there is no mechanism moving in one direction or another and no extra resistance is added to any particular phase of the lift. An iMachine does not act upon you nor does it determine strength curves. In fact, it does absolutely nothing at all: In an iMachine, YOU are the machine.

The RenEx iMachines have a literally infinite capacity to serve the needs of the powerful and strong, but also the delicate and weak. Whether we are compassionately attending to the rehabilitation of a debilitated and feeble subject or assertively coaxing the most tenacious and aggressive bodybuilder, we can effectively service all types of clients with TSC protocol on the iMachines. This is conveniently possible whether in a stand-alone program of isometric exercise or in combination with dynamic protocol.

Some of our detractors have stated that dumpers are the only machines that can provide the extreme workout conditions required to satisfy their abilities. Many have explicitly stated that they want and need more— more weight, more power, more intensity. To this we ask a simple question:

“How much do you want?”

On an iMachine, the limit of intensity is as boundless as willpower itself.

 

 

{ 184 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Russ Wakefield July 23, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I understand it. But will the public? I know I know trying is believing I used the pullover/Pulldown in Cleveland as hard as you are willing.
Good Job! Guss

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 23, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Russ,

It’s most likely that most won’t. It’s our job to educate.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Oh, and Gus says thank you…he has months of work into this article and years of experience with this technology.

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avatar Joseph Thorpe July 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Is it possible that TSC exercise could make the new line of RenX equipment obsolete, or at least unnecessary? Maybe I missed some key detail indicating otherwise, but I don’t recall reading it. If so, why even build the normal RenX equipment and go 100% with the iMachines?

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Joseph,

We don’t know yet…I believe there will always be a place for dynamic exercise especially for certain pathology, but we may find that we don’t require much dynamic exercise. We’re seeing some amazing stuff and refining our measuring tools…many reports and experiments to come.

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avatar Al Coleman July 24, 2012 at 7:58 am

Joseph,

This is a good question and one we intend to investigate. We’ll be comparing and contrasting the two protocols to determine which is globally more efficacious.

It may turn out that both have a place, but at least conceptually speaking, one should offer a greater number of benefits than the other.

Al

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avatar Justin Smith July 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm

This article is poetry. Thanks!

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm

So proud of the guys…on every level this is coming together.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Paul Thomas After Ken Hutchins fell off the public radar a few years ago I knew something huge like this had to be in the works. I’m truly excited about this FoE despite living thousands of miles away from RenEx headquarters.
29 minutes ago · Unlike · 1

Joshua Trentine Paul…He/We never stopped working, but we just weren’t ready to discuss things we had little experience with. The last 3 years have been the most exciting time of my life and we’re learning so much.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 24, 2012 at 1:40 am

Something one of my staff gave me to read today.

A very significant benefit of isometric action training is that it produces a greater level of activation than any other contraction regimen. The term activation is referring to the recruitment of the muscle motor units.
During 2001 a study on “Activation of Human Quadriceps Femoris During Isometric, Concentric, and Eccentric Contractions” by Nicholas Babault et al. found that during maximal eccentric and concentric contractions activation levels were 88.3% and 89.7%, respectively, yet they were significantly lower (P<0.05) than the activation levels during maximal isometric contraction which were 95.2%. This study’s findings have been well documented and supported through the large body of literature that has found maximal isometric action to recruit nearly all the motor units (Allen, 1995; Allen, 1998; Belanger, 1981; De Serres and Enoka 1998; Merton, 1954; & Newham, 1991). This demonstrated that through the use of isometric training we are capable of engaging a greater percentage of our muscle fibres. Therefore, in theory we should be able to have improvement in our capability of muscle activation through development of our neural system. If this proves to be true we may find a significant increase in our strength based on our capability of using our muscle closer to its full potential.

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avatar Chris Highcock July 24, 2012 at 2:50 am

I build TSC into most of my workouts now. The key thing is that you do not need machines to do it. Belt round the knees for a hip abduction, stand in the doorway with hands on the jambs for a side raise, use a table for the pullover, squeeze a basketball for a pec fly. They are all great pre exhausts for a bodyweight routine of squats, pushups, chins.

Of course a machine would be great with feedback, but is not essential.

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avatar Joe A July 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Chris,

I’ll respectfully disagree regarding feedback. Having experienced TSC with feedback and without, they are two entirely different experiences. And while an individual may be able to subjectively utilize TSC with some effect (maybe even good effect), I do not believe they can actualize the potential of this method.

‘Good enough’ is simply not good enough in the context of the method being taken seriously, with potential application in research and prescribing/overseeing the volitional effort of others. The feedback is essential…it is the key that unlocks the fullest potential effect.

And realize that I’m coming from a position where I utilize the TSC exercise set-ups you mention, both for myself and clients. It is good stuff…just not even close to what I experienced with feedback, on machines specifically designed to facilitate the exercise.

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avatar Chris Highcock July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Cheers Joe – your feedback is useful. I suppose good enough means good enough for me training myself without any fancy load cells to provide feedback. I am sure that feedback would be great…..but I don’t have a machine to provide it.

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avatar Jamie July 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Hi Chris
If you perform the TSC exercises as a pre-exhaust you can use the follow up exercise to roughly measure your inroad, for example: if you achieved a 90s TUL on push-ups after a pec fly TSC then your aim next workout is to inroad more on the pec-fly which should lead to a reduced TUL on the press up. It’s not the most accurate metric but it’s a simple approach that I find focuses me on exercise form and intensity.
You can also use a set of bathroom scales under your elbows for your pullovers, that should give you an idea of how much you’re loading.

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avatar John Tatore July 24, 2012 at 7:26 am

Gus

Great job explaining the history which lead up to TSC. Looking forward to hearing about the findings you guys which be telling us over the next few months and seeing it all in October.

John

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avatar Chris Highcock July 24, 2012 at 9:12 am

I tried to post this earlier, but it is not showing.

I find TSC excellent for preexhaust on a simple doyweight routine. No machines are nevessary-pullover using a desk, hip abduction using a belt around the knees, side raise in a doorway, fly squeezing a basket ball etc. Sure, some feedback via a machine would be great but it is not absolutley necessary

I am a massive fan of TSC – most of my workout is built on this now.

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avatar Jonathan July 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

All i can say is wow.
Thanks so much for this article.
If i may say so here,i also highly rate John Little’s MAX PYRAMID protocol.
And those new machines…..mouth watering!!!

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avatar Kevin Fontaine July 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

Since March, when I lost my access to the Ren-Ex equipment at Johns Hopkins, I’ve been using essentially an iso-only protocol using chairs, ceiling beams, and bed frames. Given my previous experience using the iPOPD, I’ve been particularly focused on gradually applying force. Although I don’t have load cells to more definitively track progress, I have noticed enhanced strength and endurance in daily activities. Qualitatively, the workout produces a sense of depletion that I have never obtained when I performed a dynamic exercise to failure and beyond. Although I don’t feel as “inflated” or pumped up during and immediately after the workout, the sensation of heaviness and reduced ability to control my limbs tells me that I’ve probably put in a sufficient level of effort. Interestingly, sometimes, 2-3 days after the workout, my quadriceps or deltoids will intermittently twitch and spasm, sometimes for several minutes.

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avatar Tom Sesny July 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Kevin – That was a great explanation of how you feel after using the Ren-Ex Iso machines. I’ve noticed that I feel the same way you do following my iso routines. I am fortunate to have a facility that has ONLY Ren Ex equipment in it and I am able to integrate the iso machines and the dynamic machines on alternating days. It is phenomenal because I get the “inflated” or “pumped up” feeling on the day I do my dynamic routine and then I get the exhausted feeling after doing the iso machines on the alternating day. The only downside is that I’ve noticed that my muscles are still twitching on the morning of my dynamic days so I am wondering if I am overtraining. Time will tell but I am loving it right now!

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avatar Kaushik July 25, 2012 at 6:50 am

“That was a great explanation of how you feel after using the Ren-Ex Iso machines.”
No Tom , Kevin was explaining how he worked out at home when he did not have access to the equipment.
“Since March, when I lost my access to the Ren-Ex equipment at Johns Hopkins, I’ve been using essentially an iso-only protocol using chairs, ceiling beams, and bed frames.”

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avatar Al Coleman July 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

Guys,

I’m delighted to hear your experiences with TSC.

The better you get at TSC the more the situation you describe starts to change.

I have noticed that “pumped” feeling gets greater to the degree that one can keep their force steady. The steadier the force line becomes (while understanding the amplitude caused by breathing), the deeper and more direct the fatigue is. The more direct the fatigue, the greater the “pump”. Think of it as and occluded effect.

Al

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avatar Scott Springston July 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm

It was almost unbelievable. After 90 seconds of static pullover and 90 seconds of static pulldown, Josh was reduced to a mere 60 lbs of weight for only two possible repetitions on the dynamic pulldown exercise.
Note another little detail. The so called pump from Josh’s static dyad w
as beyond belief.
==Scott==
I’m not sure of the time frame of all this but if all this is true , and I’m not disputing it, why didn’t Josh start working on making these static machines instead of the REN-EX machines if the result was so outstanding??

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Scott,

Static does not replace dynamic, necessarily. There are aspects of dynamic exercise that are important, and perhaps even vital. Static is merely the purest way of inroading the muscle. But we exercise more than the muscle when we do a proper workout and dynamic activity is certainly within the program’s requirements.

Beyond the obvious fact that we do in fact move, there may be matters relating to flexibility, joint integrity, and even neurological factors to consider. We are broaching new territory with this and this is exciting.

What we know for certain is that static exercise is effective and safe and it is an excellent adjunct to dynamic protocol.

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avatar Ed M. July 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm

When we can’t get to Overload Fitness we both incorporate TSC as pre-exhaust or when the clunky equipment compromises our RenEx routine. Subjectively, we both seem to experience less residual fatigue.

So the question: does TSC as you define it mitigate the negative aspects of clunky machines?

Terrific article.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm

If it’s our clunky machines, then no.

If it’s conventional machines? yes entirely

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avatar Mark Shear July 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I have the honor of exercising under the supervision of the great one himself, Mr. Ken Hutchins. This experience has proven to be one of the most productive in my life. I have nothing but the highest of regards for him and can assure anyone that the torture this man will continue to put me through for the rest of my life is worth every penny and all the effort I can contribute. First hand I can tell you these new machines are killers as Ken has had to peel my fingers off the pull down handles on more then one occasion. The new machine also introduced me to the term carpet time. So to everyone involved in this Rennisance, Thank You! To everyone else, honor thy protocol. Mark

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avatar Scott Springston July 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm

==Scott==
If I was making these static machines I’d make a machine that could be used the dynamic way or locked into a position that would allow it to be used statically as well. Imagine a regular pullover where the arm could be locked at any position to be employed as a static arm as well. Who’s got space for a bunch of static machines and dynamic machines ??

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

RenEx machines come with this capability.

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avatar Scott Springston July 25, 2012 at 9:29 am

====Scott==
That’s interesting. I didn’t know they had this capability.

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avatar Dean Curtis July 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Please read the article above. It is stated several times. Also, for anyone regularly visiting this site, you should get the RoE book. It is well worth the read regardless of if you have access to the equipment or not. Much of this thread is covered in the TSC chapter.

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avatar Craig July 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Nice review. Seems thorough.

To me, it always seemed like it was too easy to cheat on yourself when doing isometrics, just not give it full intensity for lack of focus or willpower. Having feedback removes that possibility.

I haven’t looked lately, but I would imagine that load cells can be purchased relatively cheaply, and we all know how inexpensive computers have gotten these days, so I wonder if it wouldn’t be possible for someone clever to bring to market a set of relatively affordable straps and resistance bars that incorporated force monitoring, so that isometrics with feedback could be done at home without a lot of equipment.

Also: Is this the official death of one of Arthur Jones principles of exercise – that the muscle must be fatigued through a full range of motion? I seems everyone in the HIT world is moving away from that. First the move to compound movements instead of rotary, single joint. Now isometrics at the midrange of the movement. He must be rolling in his grave???

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avatar mike July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I still want to know what i marked my calendar for. is ken going to play trumpet while his boys write about how great he is or what?

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avatar David Sears July 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm

What kind of strength increases are you seeing when you go back to the similar dynamic exercise? Are your trainees making faster progress by the deeper inroading and exhaustion than they were making with a normal dynamic routine?

Thanks,

David

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avatar Al Coleman July 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

David,

I’m going to write an article or two telling of my observations and will go into more detail at the conference.

In short the answer is an astounding YES!!! The exciting thing is the hypertrophy I personally have experienced.

People are “getting” the dynamic protocol faster after having learned TSC first.

Al

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avatar John Tatore July 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Al … would you recommend breathing the same way as when doing dynamic exercise (open mouth drop relax jaw and don’t think about it)? I finding it a little harder to breath during styptics. I feel like I’m running out of air and forcing the breathing. I was wondering your ideas on that from training many clients now with TSCs.

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avatar John Tatore July 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm

From last email … “I finding it a little harder to breath during statics”. ..not styptics
Sorry John

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avatar Al Coleman July 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm

John,

It isn’t that it is harder to breathe freely with TSC, it is that the one’s initial response to TSC is to brace like mad! This too had me initially frustrated. I’m currently writing a series of posts that will address these issues.

It is certainly easier to instruct proper breathing with the feedback, but the key is to understand that force should stay moderate even though EFFORT is continuously increasing. You should breathe without thinking about it. As EFFORT increases your breathing will speed up on its own. Any effort to control your breathing will fail ten fold with TSC because there is NO respite. Typically with the dynamic protocol “over breathing” for a short period is effective to break Val Salva/Sync because you will get a chance somewhere along the range of motion where your respiration will get a chance to recover. This doesn’t work with TSC. All of ones concentration must be on a constant level of force production while allowing free breathing.

I encourage everyone to study the comparison graph in the article above over and over again and draw as many conclusions as you can from it. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

avatar Marshal Linfoot July 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Great article Gus!

The history of isometrics was particularly interesting as I am old enough to remember some of the 60’s fanfare and eventual fade away. Having had the pleasure (?) of training with you on the iMachines at The Strength Room, I can attest to your statements that “…there is nowhere to escape.” and “… it is almost impossible to find respite…” When you can no longer move a weight stack, you can still hold the weight, and when you can no longer hold the weight, you can lower it safely. But on the static machine, when the line on the graph starts to fall, try as hard as you might, you’re basically done.

For someone who never really took exercising seriously for most of his adult life, the RenEx experience has been nothing short of revolutionary. You are indeed Renaissance men. Lead on…

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avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Thanks for your comment Marshal.

For those of you who have been asking about TSC’s place in the RenEx spectrum, look no further than to Marshal’s experience.

When Marshal came to see me he had tremendous enthusiasm for the philosophy and protocol and was quick to learn the nuances of the techniques for dynamic exercise.

But his shoulders and elbows were debilitated. Range of motion, pain, and weakness were all factors in limiting the choices of exercises for Marshal, particularly in upper body pulling movements.

TSC protocol (blind and with feedback) provided a means for progressive strengthening of the structures. Over many months, Marshal performed workouts that blended dynamic exercises and TSC protocol. All of his pulling movements were done as TSC.

It took many months but eventually Marshal was able to perform the dynamic counterparts to every TSC pulling movement that was once not possible.

I have worked with many clients with similar conditions but Marshal’s tenacity and sheer willfulness in TSC made a big difference in not only how quickly he managed to get to the point where he could perform dynamically, but also to the degree of his physical growth.

At one point on iPOPD, Marshal’s shoulders, lats, biceps and forearms appeared to suddenly (almost for the first time) contract before my eyes. I’d never seen this degree of muscularity stimulated by any individual event for him and yet here he was demonstrating a distinct growth and pump from his TSC endeavour.

In fact, it was this moment that sparked my decision to go and try dynamic exercise upon his next visit. To our collective surprise, he was able to perform with full ROM (previously limited by valgus issues or whatever), and with no pain.

It should also be noted that as Marshal continued to use TSC, he also was able to handle much more resistance in pushing movements such as Ventral Torso and Overhead Press.

So in Marshal’s case, TSC protocol helped him to correct joint debility as evidenced by all of the above observations.

And just because we are now engaged in dynamic protocol to fully actualize his potential, does not mean that TSC will not be performed again in the future. At this stage, Marshal is poised for a higher level of even more intense TSC to compliment his dynamic capabilities.

gus

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avatar Donnie Hunt July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Very good article Gus! There is much to think about here and for me to go back read again. Sounds like there is very good reason to do TSC for a time and then dynamic contractions for a time. Or combining the two the into one set? You covered a lot of info for sure!

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avatar Dean Curtis July 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Would like the Renex team’s thoughts on
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/livingthings/10dec_muscles.html

Are they implying that:
1. isometrics is the same as concentric/eccentric hypertrophy wise
2. in zero G some fibers still atrophy, but this is irrelevant on Earth

If so, isometrics could be the be all end all protocol . I have seen other “isometric machines with force gauges and feedback”. There are competitors out there already, Google it.

One important quote:
They (NASA) tested three types of exercise: muscle contraction, muscle lengthening, and isometric, where the muscle exerts a force while remaining the same length. (Just think of doing push-ups: muscle contraction occurs in the “up” part of a push-up, muscle lengthening during the “down” part, and isometric while holding a push-up midway.)

After the sessions, the scientists performed tests to see how the rats’ muscles responded. “What we found,” says Baldwin, “was that after 12 sessions, all three types of workout tended to provide about the same amount of muscle growth,” even the isometric exercises that involved no motion.

This was nothing new. Other scientists had come to the same conclusions before. But Baldwin’s group took their analysis a step further: In addition to measuring overall muscle mass–how “buff” were the rats?–they also measured the amount of contractile proteins within the muscle cells. Contractile proteins are what actually cause a muscle to contract. They are what give a muscle its strength.

To their surprise, Baldwin’s team found that while isometric exercises did prevent leg muscles from withering, they did not stop a decline in the amount of contractile proteins in those muscles. The muscle was actually degrading on the molecular level. No one knows why this is so, but one thing seems clear: Isometric exercise might not be the best way to maintain astronaut muscles.

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avatar Al Coleman July 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

Dean,

I read through the whole text of the study. There are a number of major research flaws in the researcher’s conclusion. In addition there are points in the study where their finding contradict their conclusions.

The actual study showed that isometrics were in fact the MOST effective form of all three training modalities increasing the muscle mass in the rats legs by 14%. The other methods produced a 12% (for concentric only contraction) and 11% (for eccentric only exercise). In addition, the isometric protocol also produced the highest increase in IGF-1 Growth Hormone. This jives well with the occlusion effect that is present with isometric exercise.

The biggest flaw in the study though was that the rats produced the isometric contractions via ELECTRONIC STIMULATION!!! That’s right, they did NOT perform the exercise volition-ally. The volitional aspect of the protocol is in my opinion THE biggest advantage of TSC over other modalities.

The results of the study make no sense. How can a muscle show increased growth and have a REDUCED amount of contractile proteins? Their loss of mass extrapolated on a protein marker reduction, wasn’t actually demonstrated in the lab. It was suggested.

To say the least, the study was bizarre.

Al

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avatar Dean Curtis July 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Al,

Thanks so much for responding, and so thoroughly. On its surface, their conclusion just did not sit right.

Re “How can a muscle show increased growth and have a REDUCED amount of contractile proteins?”, exactly. The only thing I could come up with was that the individual fibers recruited grew but the non-recruited fibers atrophied in weightlessness. But if trained to fatigue, how in the heck were there so many fibers totally un-recruited. Rather nonsensical.

RE using EMS, banging head on desk. That invalidates the whole darned premise. I worked at NASA back in the 80’s, so sad to see it dying away.

It would seem that less out roading is taking place with purely isometric protocols and of course for those of us without access to Renex, or even Medx, it seems the best way to train all the time if on traditional equipment. I will be doing some experiments with yielding TSC and John L’s Max Pyramid, seeing what works best with plain old dumbells and cable machines, will let folks know.

Related, if you need some extra “storage space for any excess iMachines” my home gym is quite ready to help 😀

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avatar Donnie Hunt July 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I really appreciate the constant emphasis on safety. I have caught myself doing things for the sake of exercise that are not the safest. All knowledge is valuable I feel. When I do exercise I have a collective bunch of knowledge that kinda goes off like an alarm before or when I do what I do during that session. I wonder for some of you that train with others if you have alot of discussion about why you exercise in a RenEx way or similar way? I’m talking situations where a training partner might train in a more conventional way.

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avatar Bradley Warlow July 25, 2012 at 9:08 am

TO JOSHUA TRENTINE:
I think that dynamic exercise will indeed give you better flexibilty, joint integrity and full range demonstratable strength, compared to isometric contractions. BUT THESE ARE ALL PERIPHERAL FACTORS AND NOT THE RESULT OF A PROPER MUSCLE STIMULATING WORKOUT. If its the peripherals you want, do crossfit, tabata or other calisthenic routines! nothing has taxed my cardiovascular system more or provided me with a better overall workout! I have personally found from experience that pure inroading results in less breathing and also a lesser pump in relation to dynamic exercise. I personally switched exclusively to superslow training a few months ago and have found better muscle stimulation and far less outroading,( my tendons and ligaments do not ache the next day and I feel sytemically recovered almost immediately after the workout) -and this is just with conventional machines, not REN-EX ( but superslow represented a huge leap in my inroadng capabilities. but unfortunately I also found lower metabolic effects; far lighter breathing than in a conventional workout. And I therefore attribute this to the fact that outroading, such that is involved in a crossfit session or tabata protocol, or any calisthenic type movements ; like modern day ‘caveman routines’ is what really taps into these other factors. I find that the pump is related more to the cardiovascular output, so obviously this is NOT pure inroading and is infact outroading. To me trying to get a good pump and ‘metabolic kick’ when inroading your muscles is like trying to work up a sweat while laying on a sunbed, its not the cause of the stimulus and is thus a negative factor- if pure muscle stimulation is your goal! (I absolutly agree with what kevin fountaine said about their lack of pump when performing isometric contractions) as I have experience this myself., Judging by your photo Joshua , your a big dude and I believe that Gus may have assumed you were more pumped up than you actually were. what do you say ? Also I would like to add that I don’t think cross fit is a safe way to train, its just that metabolic conditioning, bone mineral density and flexibilty are seperate from muscle growth. And although they do take place when working out, this only represents the inefficiency of the protocol in isolating one of the above factors. You colud even say that muscle growth from dong yoga is a negative! The idea is to find the best way to isolate them induvidually in the safest manner. Or to perhaps forget all this and just do what you enjoy! what do you guys think?

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avatar Drew Baye July 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Anyone who does not experience a considerable metabolic demand performing TSC isn’t doing it right.

It makes no sense to assume isometrics would not also stimulate improvements in bone density and bone mineral content. The effort produced by the muscles is still being applied to the resistance through the bones regardless of whether the muscles are changing length and it should have the same effect.

As for flexibility consider that contrary to popular but uninformed opinion very few muscles can actually be stretched and most of those are almost never moved into a true stretch during conventional dynamic exercises. In most cases stretching is unnecessary and highly overrated. I suspect in almost all cases the improvements in flexibility in most joint movements resulting from dynamic exercise are the result of greater strength of the movements’ agonists rather than increased extensibility of antagonists. This appears to be just as improvable with static exercise.

Also, there is no reason to ever recommend CrossFit, Tabata or anything of the sort. None of these provide benefits which can not be more safely and efficiently obtained through proper strength training, including TSC if it is done properly.

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avatar Al Coleman July 26, 2012 at 8:33 am

Bradley,

Thanks for your comments.

Drew touched on most of the answers I would give. I would add that our experience has been a little different. Great amounts of mechanical work as per Crossfit, do lead to a huge metabolic stimulus and perhaps a large amount of “pumping”. When one starts to move in the direction of providing a more direct stimulus via the process of inroading, they are initially NOT very good at it( it can take some one quite a while to get “good” at it-LOTS of practice is needed) and the peripheral effects such as the metabolic load and “pumping’ aren’t very good. When one gets better and better at refining the stimulus and making it more direct, global fatigue is lessened BUT the meatbolic load becomes huge and the “pumping” becomes more pronounced and direct than before. My 13 years of doing this has shown me that ones respiration and O2 debt is perhaps the BEST external marker of an individuals ability to inroad.

In addition, flexibility is mediated not by the range that joints are taken through, but by the strength of the musculature. There are forms of therapy such as MET and PNF that are based around this. Again, it is a neurology thing. I have personally witnessed a good number of clients ROM in the neck improve incredibly with nothing but TSC. One of the greatest myths about stretching is that you can actually stretch a muscle. Sarcomeres won’t lengthen unless you severe them and hang a weight from the end for a prolonged period of time.

In summation, outroading is initially a big metabolic load, an attempt to direct will initially reduce this(perhaps for quite sometime-case dependent), and then come full circle to providing a more pronounced yet direct effect. The objective of our feedback is to reduce the middle phase.

Al

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avatar Owen July 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

I think Al’s last paragraph in this post is really important. Those two sentences seem to me to sum up the entire Ren-Ex philosophy and what we all have to shoot for when instructing clients. It is, in my opinion, the most advanced notion of “progressive” resistance training in that it shows that progress comes through fine-tuning volition and not simply increasing weight, volume or anything else. Having great tools and techniques to speed that process is really exciting.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm

“It is, in my opinion, the most advanced notion of “progressive” resistance training in that it shows that progress comes through fine-tuning volition and not simply increasing weight, volume or anything else. Having great tools and techniques to speed that process is really exciting.”

😉

avatar TK July 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Wow.

Thank you guys so much for this article, I found it extremely interesting, and even exciting. Hat’s off to the RENEX team for continuing to have the courage to innovate and go against conventional strength training dogma.

I can’t wait to learn more about the iMulti. Is this an outlet that will let the home gym enthusiast train utilizing the RENEX methodology?

Can’t wait to learn more.

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avatar James Ashby July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Pete Sisco has promoted a Static Contraction Training program for years. Tony Reno of the late Explosive Fitness company introduced several generations of load cell based equipment specially designed for SCT. After reading the above I am tempted to dust off my old EF7000 and give the protocol described a try.

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avatar Al Coleman July 26, 2012 at 9:20 am

James,

I remember these pieces. The main issue with their protocol is that they recommend producing force near the position of infinite lever. BAD idea. The amount of force possible here is insane and will destroy someones joints over time.

The other issue is that they only recommended 5-12 seconds of contraction. Our experiences has shown that at least 60-90 seconds is required to spread fatigue out over the breadth of the muscle(if full range benefits are desired).

Al

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avatar James Ashby August 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The last generation of EF machines were capable of capturing several minutes worth of data to a thumb drive. You could then upload the data to a PC and produce a force/time graph. Tony Reno changed the recommended contraction time to 90 seconds of “all out” effort. This was a killer. I experimented with holding at a target force for up to 90 seconds with the target set so that failure was reached in that time. This was more reasonable but I found it a bit distracting to have to watch the display and try to keep the force constant at the target. This eventually lead me to working with timed static holds on conventional machines where feedback relative to force being generated is more immediate/visceral: i.e. the weight is motionless or it is not.

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avatar Dennis Rogers July 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Very exciting.
Great article and comments.
Thank You

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avatar Donnie Hunt July 26, 2012 at 12:19 am

All this does make me ask the question: What do I get out of dynamic contractions that I don’t get with TSCs? I see where Joshua commented a bit about this. Some things I’ve thought about and wanting to get others input. Do dynamic contractions allow more thorough loading of the joints, or as someone else put it, “Disperse the load over a wider area of joint articulation”? Does the action of the muscles lengthening and shortening against resistance contribute anything of benefit that doesn’t happen during a static contraction? I’ve of course heard of how some strength gains are somewhat “range worked specific”. Also that the “ranged worked strength gains” could be more of a neural adaptation or skill adaptation. Just some things that come to mind. Not intending to take anything away from the apparent benefits of TSCs.

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avatar Al Coleman July 26, 2012 at 8:15 am

Donnie,

You aren’t taking anything away from the TSC discussion, you’re adding to it!!!

These questions need to be asked. I’m working on figuring out a way to more accurately measure dynamic movement. When a few variables with dynamic movement can be measured and accounted for, then a more accurate comparison of the two protocols can be made.

In my opinion the bottom line is what protocol will elicit a greater degree of progress in the contractile ability and size of the muscle fibers themselves. The neurology is what must be duped to allow for this recruitment. All other functional gains are peripheral to the muscle. IMO.

Al

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avatar Bradley Warlow July 26, 2012 at 3:48 am

Hi Drew Baye! Im gathering that your comment was a response to me somewhat. I think that you are certainly right that bone mineral density can be increased through TSC. But if you would please take a look at Body By Science and see the study done on the elderly patients in the last few pages, and notice that significant bone mineral density did not increase unless the exercises were performed in 6 seconds or less, i believe? This is due to the weights being heavy enough to bare a load on the skeletal frame heavy enough. As far as flexibility is concerned, your right in regards to the muscle, but demonstrateable flexibility like the stiff legged hamstring stretch, is only improved to any meaningful degree by performing that particular exercise specifically.
When it comes to muscle growth your looking at a singular factor which, when isolated purely, does not effect any peripheral factors such as metabolic conditioning, not untill the muscles are used in exercises that incorporate a lot of other factors.

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avatar Drew Baye July 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

See Al’s comments on flexibility. I do no stretching and do not go anywhere near what might be considered a “stretch” during dynamic trunk extension exercise but I can easily flex my spine and hips far enough to place my hands flat on the ground with my knees locked.

With regards to bone density and exercise the external loads which can practically and safely be used during dynamic exercise would not result in a level of resistance exceeding what is possible even more safely during TSC. I have trained numerous women over the year who experienced significant increases in bone density training with a level of resistance allowing set durations in excess of two minutes. If these stimulated improvements in bone density than the levels they can sustain during 90 seconds of TSC will do the same.

As for isolation, you can not stimulate improvements in muscular strength and size with exercise without having an effect on these other factors. If the muscles are working intensely metabolic work is being performed and the cardiovascular system will be taxed by it. The muscles don’t pull directly on the weight or machine, they apply force to it through your bones loading them in the process. The more effective the work for the muscles the more these other systems are affected as well.

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avatar Bradley Warlow July 26, 2012 at 4:46 am

What I mean by exercises incorporating other factors are exercises that arent ‘Pure’ forms of isolation. Such as dynamic exercise. These therefore address other aspects such as your metabolic conditioning. Obviously TSC exercise is not the most pure form of muscle growth stimulation as it does involve some of the peripheral factors. So infact the most pure form of muscle growth stimulation would be in the form of altering your DNA to block myostatin gene expression. This is ‘pure’ because you do not have to lift a finger to produce any muscle. Again I dont mean for this to sound anecdotal but if you look at Wendy the wippet, who has a myostatin gene damage, you will find that , despite having extreme levels of muscle mass, about 3 times more than the average wippet, she actually only possesses the same size heart and lungs as a regular size wippet. This to me shows that muscle growth is an entirely seperate factor.
And running for example would make outroadings and would
thus change the scenario for her.

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avatar Donnie Hunt July 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Thanks for the response Al. This is all very interesting to me. Again, the emphasis on safety I think is great. Regarding your comment about performing static contractions near the point of infinite lever: Do you feel this is not a good idea even when using a 60 to 90 second contraction time?

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avatar Andrew Shortt July 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I have experience with load cells and force gauges. I have extensive experience with many forms of static exercise dating back from my teens right to present day where my clinician favors them heavily in my routines. My first sense of this is Bravo Gus and RenX team! It is well time that this ramping up and forced overload through static inroading is refined if not redefined….brilliant. As anyone who understands just the basics of how precise and useful post fatigue static force gauge testing is, it should be obvious that the side notes Ken made are likely spot on.

Regards,
Andrew

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 12:42 am

Andrew,

Thank You for sharing your experiences and the kind words.

This technology has really opened up our exploration.

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 12:39 am

I stole this post from the bodybyscience.net forum, I think it’s worth sharing here in case anyone missed it:

“Joe A says:
July 25, 2012 at 5:03 am
@Chris

I won’t harp on this, as we already discussed on the RenEx site. However, I think you are missing the point if you think this is about selling machines.

You have a group of people who instruct exercise for a living. Their venture into machines is simply an effort to deliver the best exercise stimulus to their clients…if it helps others who train, then all the better…if they make money, then it is fair exchange for the transfer of knowledge (whether in concept or product).

So, they think they are on to something with TSC…without a delivery system that makes the experience repeatable, progressive and controllable, then it has limited use in the business. From their perspective, why not explore the potential fully? To that end, feedback (for the trainee and instructor) is crucial to the experience.

For those who exercise independently, there are many TSC exercises that can be done quite well with limited equipment…especially for the individual who is skilled at inroading himself. For most, I suspect they provide tremendous foreshadowing of what may be possible with this type of exercise. IME, human nature is such that we try to qualify and quantify our experiences…in the presence of limited objective data points, the mind has trouble focusing the body’s effort toward an objective. basically, many people suck at subjectively interpreting and assessing…and directing their effort accordingly.

I really think we are in agreement; we just have a different purpose. You seem to care about exercise being widely or generally available and performed. I only care about my ability to instruct it well to the few I have the privilege to affect. The general population and what they understand about exercise or what they may (or may not) have access to is of no interest to me or my business. If my goal isn’t to offer an exercise experience that is superior to that which they can achieve on their own, then it is time to get out of the business.

Dammit…I really tried not to harp. “

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avatar Chris Highcock July 27, 2012 at 1:37 am

Josh, can I also point people towards my reply to JoeA on the bbs board http://www.bodybyscience.net/home.html/?p=1172=4#comment-40754

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 11:41 am

Ooops… sorry Chris, I should have posted that too.

THANKS!

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avatar Bradley Warlow July 27, 2012 at 2:33 am

Thanks for the information Al and Drew! I am not against TSC at all and I actually condone it entirely. The only trouble i had was when i heard that advanced BBS trainees were splitting up their metabolic conditioning to their strength workouts.
It lead me to believe that the process of muscle stimulation was a simple thing and when one gets closer to their full potential they will have to seperate the all factors in their own specific workouts. Although from what you say Al and Drew -the better you get at TSC the more you
Involve all of the positive factors has brought me to the conclusion that perhaps the closer you get to your potential, the more refined your training needs to become to still tap all of the factors in tandem. So maybe TSC With force gauge is the up and coming answer ! Thanks guys:)

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avatar Drew Baye July 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

It very well may be. Everybody I’ve trained on them has remarked how much harder they work with the feedback.

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avatar db144 July 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

Wonder what Apple will say once they’ve been notified about the trademark infringement?

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

Funny thing…I own the trademark for imachine….I might sell it for a few million though 🙂

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avatar Scott Springston July 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

==Scott==
What trade mark are you talking about??Imachine??

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Scott,

Try to stay focused we have a great conversation going on here, I won’t let drama seeking interrupt.

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avatar Scott Springston July 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

==Scott==
Who’s seeking drama? I was just wondering what you were talking about.

avatar db144 July 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Still waiting for the research to be presented.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 27, 2012 at 11:33 pm

We’re the innovators I’ll leave that to the scientists.

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avatar Jonas July 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

Would there be any difference to do a T S Hold, eg holding a weight in the middle position for 60-90 sec before you fail, holding it?

Maybe an easier protocol to learn before you do “true” TSC?

//Jonas

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Yes there is great difference, I don’t see much use, if any, for static hold. Many protocols that include this lead to DUMPING and full-body bracing much like Negative-Only protocols.

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avatar marklloyd July 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Less dramatic than Josh’s insight into TSH vs TSC, but a crucial difference nonetheless: Inroad with TSC is theoretically limitless! (TSH is already in place at the end of dynamic sets, with a safer load.)

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Mark,

Excellent point! theoretically and potentially the deepest inroads to date…the question now becomes: “How far do you want to go?”…I think this exercise modality should make us look closer at Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty II prgram and Doug McGuff’s early work with Ultimate Exercise 1 (Which we’ll be re-releasing with some updates shortly).

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avatar Jonathan August 1, 2012 at 9:43 am

Joshua
Intuitively i feel this is the right programme to use.
I am using it in conjunction with John Little’s Max Pyramid protocol.
From my experience,
a powerful combination.
Just wanted to comment here because i found it very fascinating that you mentioned Mikes Heavy Duty 2 here in conjunction with Static contractions.
I value the information here so it was a tiny piece of confirmation for something i had been using for a while now.
Bodybuilding is an artform and one should defnitely trust ones intuition in physical culture as well.

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avatar Craig July 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm

One of the posts above mentions exercise done in/near the position of ‘infinite lever’. Can someone please explain what that means?

Some of your machines are isometric variations of single joint exercises (pullover), while others are based on compound movements (c0mpound row).

For ones based on single joint movement, I’d guess you load the muscle at the midrange, not too stretched or contracted. Is that the typical practice?

Regarding isometrics with compound: Do you have any guidelines or thoughts on where to best postion yourself, i.e., how deep into the movement should you go? Since the distribution of load among muscles varies with position in some compound movements, any thoughts as to the value of doing isometrics at various points in the ROM to affect different muscle groups?

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avatar Vaughn July 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I would love to try your new machines but I am concerned that any form of TSC might be contraindicated in my case. I am 67 and on medication for hypertension. Traditionally any form of static holds has been advised against for anyone with high blood pressure. Please don’t give me the pat ” check with your Doctor first ” answer as I’m sure she ( like most ?) know very little about exercise, especially the kind you prescribe.

Thank You.

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avatar Jonas July 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Josh, could you elaborate why/how TSH differs from TSC? Your first answers was to short for me to understand the difference and why TSH would be like neg training.

Thanks

//Jonas

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

It can quickly get outside of your neurological capacity for engaging a given load or force production….the result; bracing and outroading. There are also a number other benefits we see from TSC it seems to eliminate certain joint issues…we may be getting an effective muscle energy technique from TSC.

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avatar Al Coleman July 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Jonas,

As Josh just said, it is VERY easy to get outside your neurological capacity when doing static holds and the such. I’m working on future posts that will try to explain this a little further, but suffice it to say that it the load most can use and still keep the force production of the target muscles at a constant is WAY lower than most think.

Al

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avatar Travis Weigand July 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I have a couple observations to make regarding the RenEx imachines. I have personally instructed enough subjects through these pieces of equipment that I have recognized some trends.

What my fellow instructors and I are seeing on a daily basis our subjects has been extremely promising. There has been a heightened level of interest and focus amongst those subjects that have consistently used our imachines. The machine’s load cells act as a window to what is happening internally. Subjects seem far more willing to “go there” in terms of effort when they are provided with real time visual feedback. Those subjects who struggled with the dynamic protocol seem to be experiencing more meaningful and continuous muscular loading. I have yet to hear a subject complain that their TSC set felt less productive than their dynamic sets.

I suspect that one of the main reasons we’ve seen these improvements thus far is that TSC forces one to both find and utilize their “low gear”. I know the RenEx team has said quite a lot over the past year or so about this subject. Even though this will always be a nebulous concept for most, TSC on the imachines makes it far easier to relate. Better yet, once a subject can see this concept on a graph they just produced, it makes their subsequent performances much more consistent.

I am excited to see what we find out next!

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avatar Ken Hutchins July 29, 2012 at 9:37 am

Vaughn July 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm
I would love to try your new machines but I am concerned that any form of TSC might be contraindicated in my case. I am 67 and on medication for hypertension. Traditionally any form of static holds has been advised against for anyone with high blood pressure. Please don’t give me the pat ” check with your Doctor first ” answer as I’m sure she ( like most ?) know very little about exercise, especially the kind you prescribe.
=====================================================================================================================

I am not concerned about your blood pressure especially if you are on your medications and it is controlled. Your BP will rise during the TSC and normalize afterwards as it is supposed to.

Traditional advice against isometrics with regard to hypertension is based upon the myth that sustained muscular contraction stops blood flow. This is poppycock.

Ken Hutchins

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avatar Ken Hutchins July 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

Craig July 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm
One of the posts above mentions exercise done in/near the position of ‘infinite lever’. Can someone please explain what that means?
Craig,
===================================================================================================================
“Infinite lever” is a position of the joint(s) where a moderate muscular force can effect an excessive force at the appendage ends. This position is at or very near lockout.

In theory, the lever advantage just seconds of a degree before the knees lock out in a leg press will effect a force magnitude great enough to lift the universe. Of course, your bones will crush well before getting to that point.

This is one reason why we avoid lockout in most compound pushing movements, particularly leg press. It is also why the safest positions for TSC on compound pushing movements are well away from a lockout position of the involved joints. TSC performed near lockout of the joints is asking for a joint explosion!

All of this is completely detailed in the Renaissance of Exercise—Volume I.

K

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avatar marklloyd July 30, 2012 at 2:03 am

Perhaps other iso devices should be discussed in greater detail. 1/ I have a “1 RepGym”. A/The protocol associated w/1RG’s typical: short duration, full-effort, leverage-advantaged positions. Agreed: Not the best idea. B/The meter’s prehistoric compared to what ReNex’s about to offer. C/The available limb positions are crude compared to RenEx’s line of units. Nonetheless, with a TSC protocol, some thought put into body positions, & an eye on the meter , I believe the 1RG ‘s a useful tool, the best affordable home unit to date. 2/What’s with “Biodensity”? Their set times also are -quite- short. I realize that selling a quick workout is a good marketing, but would adding another 5 minutes to the total workout time really throw the campaign off?

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avatar John Tatore July 30, 2012 at 8:08 am

Question …. are they any additional benefits to doing TSC exercises over dynamic exercise for someone with great form … who never out-loads … someone like Al Coleman?

Thanks
John

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avatar Al Coleman July 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

John,

In addition to what Joe wrote, I’d say that TSC might be even more valuable for the advanced subject. One thing that I’d like to describe at a later date is how much more aware I am of the degree to which dynamic movement unloads you despite immaculate form.

I’ll be talking about this shortly.

Al

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avatar Andrew Shortt July 30, 2012 at 11:48 pm

“how much more aware I am of the degree to which dynamic movement unloads you despite immaculate form”

Now…now we’re talking ;n)

Regards,
Andrew

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

I think Al will have some to say about this Andrew.

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avatar Al Coleman July 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Andrew,

I’m currently working on some posts that will be like journal entries so that I can express what I’ve been seeing.

It has been extremely revealing just how much respite you get with dynamic exercise. I don’t know if this is a negative thing yet, but it is interesting none-the-less.

Al

Al

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avatar Joe A July 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

@John

Someone with great form is still subjecting their joints to added wear and tear with dynamic exercise versus TSC. For example, the shoulder girdle is heavily involved, even in a minimalist big 5 routine…now imagine having to add single joint movements (like pullover, lateral raise) in order to address lagging parts or client-specific needs…the compounding stress on the shoulder girdle is a limiting factor that must be considered when programming. TSC would seem to help address this limitation, while still allowing for the volume and frequency necessary to maximize the exercise effect.

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avatar Al Coleman July 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Very true.

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avatar Sean, Wales July 31, 2012 at 8:27 am

Great article and debate! These developments are fascinating to me from a psychological perspective in that I foresee a major intensification of the “Real Objective/Assumed Objective” debate should we ultimately conclude that TSC is superior and/or preferable to dynamic exercise. If this conclusion is drawn (I personally expect that it will), putting aside our committment to dynamic exercise performed with meticulous care on bespoke equipment is going to be very, very difficult. As physically taxing as this (dynamic exercise) is, we ‘enjoy’ it, don’t we? If we are honest, we must also admit that we get a kick out of things like appropriately designed cams; floating seats; low friction weight stacks; and the other sophisticated paraphernalia that have become part of our world. It will be a lot harder to jettison all of this than jogging or ‘aerobics’ ever was. As Spock might say – “Fascinating!”.

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Sean,

It is some fascinating stuff. We have a couple interesting experiments with the iMachines that we’re working on.

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avatar Al Coleman July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Excellent comment Sean!! We may have to let go of a lot!

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avatar marklloyd July 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

If immaculate form with the best available equipment still unavoidably allows some unloading, does that mean we’re still on a search for the perfect cams?

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I want to say, the greater the unloading and muscular respite the more volume (up to a point) that we may require to get the global effects of exercise.

ie: TSC W/feedback–> RenEx dynamic protocol–> more traditional H.I.T–>conventional barbell exercises, squats, etc.

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avatar Craig August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

So there are many paths to the same destination: some roads are longer and less safe, some shorter, quicker, and safer, but maybe the tolls on that road are more expensive….

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avatar Joshua Trentine July 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I think with the way we’re delivering the resistance our current cams are as good as they are ever going to get.

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avatar mark August 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

With full-range dynamic exercise at one end of the spectrum, & Timed Static Contraction at the other, both yielding good results, surely there just be place for narrow-range work, in the service of avoiding respite.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm

may be necessary when cams are way off.

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avatar marklloyd August 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Thanks Josh. I realize now that my real question is : Is there a downside to narrow-range movements? (In my personal experience even most MedX cams are way off, which I assume means that almost -all- cams are way off.)

avatar Sean, Wales July 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Gus,
Did you prototype your devices with standard load cell display amplifiers (ie the sort that give a simple digital/numerical display of the force applied to the load cell) before utilising software that generates the graphical images that you have described? If so, were these user-friendly in the context of our exercise application? If not, why not? I ask because I have for some time been considering replacing the weight stacks in some of my machines (eg Naultilus Pullover) with load cells wired to a digital display amplifier (for TSC use). Having not yet made the leap of faith required to accomplish this, I would appreciate being enlightened as to the effectiveness of this kind of (simpler) feedback mechanism than that which is incorporated into the devices that you have developed. In essence: do you think/have you found that it is more difficult for subjects to relate to a simple digital/numerical display when compared to a more sophisticated graphical display?

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avatar gus August 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

Over the past few years, I have used both digital and graphical (analog) feedback. The “at a glance” effect of digital numbers was my original prefernce but I have come to understand more and more that the way human beings register feedback for muscular loading is more aligned to an analog/graphical model. I also believe that analog feedback is more instructor friendly.

A graphic display along the axes can tell you at a glance WHERE force and time values are. A digital display can only tell you WHAT each value is. The graph serves as a status indicator in flux, displaying parameters and the relationship between them. Such feedback can be read at a glance in analog whereas a digital display requires that you do a mental check against minimum and maximum allowable readings at any given moment.

It has been suggested that the human brain can process analog information more quickly and reacts better to analog instrumentation. This is why analog displays are chosen in most cars and aircraft (despite the fact that the underlying information feed is likely digital).
We simply can see the analog event over time where as digital numbers are just fluctuating abstractions.

The graph also allows you to anticipate time and develop an instinct for gradual force variations. For instruction of subjects during exercise, the graph provides frames of reference while the digital counter only displays single moments at a time. This is something that we discuss with beginner subjects as we try to teach them to perform exercises using uniform, as well as slow, movement in dynamic exercise.

For TSC, a graphical analog display is not subject to obsolescence, as might be believed when simply comparing the idea of backlit numbers vs. a ticking second hand on a chronometer of any kind.

At some point most of my clients have stated that the graph is 90% of their feedback preference while occasionally (10%) using the digital counter as a kind of failsafe or alternate.

TSC feedback can be done with just a digital device, I am sure, but it is not ideal in my mind.

gus

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avatar Scott Springston August 1, 2012 at 9:22 am

==Scott==
Maybe it will all come back to what Arnold once said where he felt he could work his muscles just as well by tensing them as he get from a workout. I know when I’m sitting in the tub taking a bath with my knees up in my face when I wrap my arms around my knees and give a static pull with my lats for some 20 seconds I get more feel in my lats than with pullovers and all the other lats machines that I have.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

When it comes down to it the end result is always directly related to how well you can contract…..Weight stacks, barbells and now load cells just provide feedback about how well you might be contracting, although the barbell and the weight stack can be misleading and often provide poor resolution…there is no hiding from the load cell.

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avatar John Tatore August 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm

As Gus said in one of the earlier articles … “push (or pull harder) not faster”. I take this as to mean contract harder to keep the weight moving … think about the contraction not moving the weight.
John

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Yup! That’s it…. internal cues over external.

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avatar Nathan Block August 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

I already see your ren-ex machines as obsolete.TSC will be the way to go.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I’m not ready to bury them yet, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility either. I think dynamic exercise will always have a place especially in cases where we see movement reduces pain…then again our experiences using TSC for rehab have been very promising thus far.

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avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

We have railed against the expression “tool in the toolbox” when it applies to the variations of protocols outside of RENEX but it is highly apopros to apply it to TSC.

Between RenEx dynamic and TSC we have all the tools to work within the entire rehab-exercise continuum.

TSC is merely a substrate of RenEx; an extension of its ethos (perhaps its apotheosis), not a replacement for dynamic.

A lofty but associated analogy is that which describes theories of light. Once thought to be particles and later claimed to be waves, it has been demonstrated that light can be (and is) both.

Gus

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avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm

One more thing about the purported obsolescence of machines for dynamic protocol.

Ken has correctly stated that in some cases, such as with the spine, movement is a necessary component in rehabilitation. Vertebral alignment (and re-alignment), which can occur on a properly designed machine such as a linear spine or trunk extension, can not occur in static exercise. In this case, dynamic movement is not simply a matter of choice but necessity.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and there are other examples where movement during exercise is foundational.

In the end, realize that our position with TSC is not to supplant dynamic protocol but to enhance exercise program design, provide for more instructor options in cases where the subject requires greater care, and to simply present a modality for muscular loading that is more pure.

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avatar Chris Highcock August 2, 2012 at 12:02 am

Great discussion.

What are your recommended TSC approaches for lower body? AB and ADductuon for the hips are clear, what do you do for thighs? Do you use the leg press? I am thinking of how to utilise TSC more with no equipment. There is the wall sit but that is really a yielding isometric.

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avatar Steven Turner August 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hi Gus,

I am not sure if this question relates to “rehab or strength training”. The current trends in strength training is the so-called “functional”, I am still trying find out what that means (laugh). In our major football codes here in Australia soft tissue injuries especially hamstrings tears has increased by a huge percentage it seems like every second athlete has some type of soft tissue injury – so much for the “functional”. I would assume that most of the funtional type exercises would not provide the correct if I can borrow from Bill DeSimone “congruent” exercises. I know that many many years ago athletes were warned about not maintaining balanced muscle development especially hamstrings. This advice seems to have been ingnored by the “functionalist” crowd. I think much of their strength training methods used athletes would be hitting the “red line” all the time.

I hope that I am right on this but I noticed on the TSC graph provides instant feedback for congruency ensuring a correctly balanced strength curve for the muscles.

I could see in the future that TSC on the iMachines are more than rehab but an essential part of a strength program. It has started to be noticed in Australia by many people that some of our most expensive footballers are spending more time on the sidelines because of soft tissue injuries (hamstrings) than actually playing.

Thanks and another great article.

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avatar Ken Hutchins August 3, 2012 at 11:26 am

Response to Steven Turner:

Steven,

You are deep into several topics here—too deep to adequately explain on a blog.

First. In many respects there is no difference between “strength training” and “rehab.” Perhaps one reliable distinction is that one occurs before the injury and the other afterwards, but they are really not very different in basic principle.

Second. The hamstrings seem to be an area always on the verge of strain with many people, not just athletes.

Third. A “congruent movement arm” is one that swings in concert with the body. For example, a Compound Row machine that has its movement-arm axis inferior to the shoulders tracks incongruently (improperly) while one with its movement-arm axis superior to the shoulders—like the MedX—tracks congruently (properly) with the swing of the upper arms. The RenX Overhead Press movement arm, for example, deliberately tracks incongruently with the upper arms in order to satisfactorily track congruently with the required trunk flexion.

Fourth. Yes. We need to develop balanced strength in our musculatures…whatever the heck that is. And nobody knows what this is. It cannot be tested for. The best that can be hoped is to get as strong as possible throughout the body and allow mother nature to decide the balance. Who are we to arbitrate this?

All this balance nonsense was popularized by Karl Klien. He started the myth that the proper strength ratio between the quadriceps and hamstrings was 60/40 and that an overdeveloped and out-of-balance quadriceps made the hamstrings injury-prone.

Fifth. Note that the hamstrings are almost impossible to neglect in exercises for the lower body. If anything, we overtrain the hamstrings as they are intensely involved in Trunk Extension, leg curl, lumbar exercises like the MedX, barbell squats, leg press, Linear Spine Flexion, hip ADduction, probably hip ABduction, dead lift, good mornings, and Lower Back exercises like the original Nautilus. Besides leg extension and the Linear Spine Extension machine, try to name some more exercise that are devoid of hamstrings involvement! It’s difficult.

Sixth. You jumped from what I interpreted as “balanced between agonist/antagonist pairs” to “balanced strength curves.” I am confused as to your meaning.

All of this will be deeply explained in “The Renaissance of Exercise—Volume II” when it becomes available.

Ken

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Ken & Steven,

I’d like to add that one of the primary reasons for the “pulled Hamstring” is an innominate bone rotation which causes a functional leg leg difference. This can occur from a number of different things, but a major contributor may be the ‘muscle energy’ that occurs from unilateral loading exercises…something to chew on…

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Again….more to come about rehab in our writing, although this may have to wait for “The Renaissance of Exercise Vol 3” as the 2nd volume is filing up fast.

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avatar Craig August 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I know you are pretty strongly opposed to unilateral loading in resistance exercise. But doesn’t normal human movement mostly involve unilateral loading (walking and running)?

Granted, most hamstring pulls seem to result from sprinting. But the solution clearly does not lie in bilateral locomotion. Hard to imagine most sports being better with people hopping around like kangaroos.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Context Craig.

Unilateral loading for exercise purposes is not the same, nor does it poses the same biomechanics, R.O.M or forces as ambulation.

We don’t intend to, nor can we inroad deeply with ambulation.

avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

As Ken said earlier, hamstrings issues are common across the sports spectrum.

In the time of Nadia Comaneci, the famous Romanian female gymnast who achieved the first perfect scores, hamstrings injuries were almost non existent. Compare this with the rampant injuries of the hamstrings in the current crop of high calibre female gymnasts. These injuries are not limited to sprinters anymore.

The real issue with unilateral loading comes down to exercise vs. recreation. Unilateral loading is necessary in recreation (as in “normal human movement”). It is unnecessary and undesirable in exercise. Why? quite simply the risks are greater in exercise and there are few examples where it can be proven that there is a real benefit to unilateral exercise.

Since we desire the utmost safety margin in exercise, why not keep that bar at its lowest setting? In general avoidance of unilateral loading in exercise is an easy step to take in ensuring a basic level of safety.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Rehabilitation of various joints requires unilateral loading, whether by necessity of the injured site or by the limitations of specific exercises but these are few and far between. We may need unilateral timed static external rotation for the small muscles of the rotator cuff. We do not need (or substantially benefit from ) one legged squats.

In sport, risks are assumed by athletes that are supposedly informed of such. Though this isn’t always the case, it’s part of sports culture to accept the consequences of competition…particularly when it comes to personal injury.

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than injury. It is almost always mind-numbingly unnecessary and it can lead to everlasting and dire consequences for years to come. We all get injured now and again but we can certainly create a paradigm for exercise that keeps such risks lower.

Again, always ask yourself where your concern lies in the spectrum between exercise and recreation. Ken’s seminal treatise on this topic is among the top two most important foundational concepts for RenEx (the other being the Definition).

gus

avatar Joshua Trentine August 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Craig,

Please re-read my initial post I said that hamstring pulls are often secondary to length tension relationships being off because of an innominate bone rotation. In a rehab setting we often use unilateral loading to create muscle energy to rotate the innominate bones back….and in the same vein unilateral loading through certain R.O.Ms, with enough force or significant inroad can cause the innominate bones to get out of wack. When they are out of wack it’s VERY easy to pull your hamstring.

I’m quite aware that many people perform unilateral exercise without getting hurt, but they are not inroading anywhere near as deep or as continuously as what we’re talking about. Once you’ve had this exercise experience you’ll begin to understand why unilateral loading is a completely unnecessary risk. I can see why people don’t get this, but all it takes is some experience with people who have SI pathology or locking your own SI joint up one day or experiencing the type of inroad we’re getting.

Read up on muscle energy techniques then see if you can understand why ambulation is not related to heavily resisted or fatigued single limb exercise or single limb strain.
Joshua

avatar Joshua Trentine August 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Gus,

Can I add to that? it is also a mistake of skill vs. conditioning…the poster assumes that because a skill involves a unilateral stance than so should the exercise, which is clearly not so.

avatar Craig August 9, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Thanks for all the responses – from the volume, I gather I did hit a hot button.

I do understand that there is a big difference in risk tolerance when training for strength in the pursuit of general health versus participating in sport for fun and challenge. But the context of the discussion was hamstring injuries in athletes who were participating in demanding sporting activities.

It isn’t immediately obvious to me that training that is appropriately safe and adviseable for an otherwise sedentary middle aged person is necessarily a sufficient preparation for someone who will be participating in sports at a high level. If your sport involves a lot of explosive unilateral movements from the legs (jumping, hurdling, accelerating to a sprint, changing direction while running as speed), it doesn’t seem unreasonable to wonder if there could be more to training athletes for that kind activity than just bilateral leg press/leg extension and maybe leg curl.

avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Strength training is general and it is applicable to all people. Athletic training is specific and applies to some people for the selected activities.

If you want to train for a specific sport, train for that sport. Be aware of the latest trends and techniques and apply yourself to the best of your ability. Know the risks and make a decision as to the level you wish to engage in the activity.

Then strength train to make your body stronger which then applies to all activities and life in general. Stronger is stronger and there is not a great deal of variation in this.

Usain Bolt has described ancillary training practices to support his running skills including squats, lunges, and a host of other classic as well as newfangled techniques. But his ultimate capacity as a sprinter is mediated first by his uncanny genetic advantage as a very tall sprinter who also can generate great power. Then his years of honing his actual skill of sprinting and finally the support he gets from his strength/weight/alternate training methods.

Our perspective merely indicates that the strength component of such a program is best served by a training protocol that is less complicated, more productive, and that won’t interfere with other practices by causing injury.

We believe it is a mistake to alter strength training to meet specific requirements to a particular activity. This almost always leads to injury.

Explosiveness, power, speed-strength, and all the terms used to describe athletic performance these days have no place in proper strength training. This is a very basic distinction between exercise and recreation.

If you believe that there are secret strength training practices that apply to specific sports that translate as improved skill in that sport, then you also believe that you can become an expert martial artist by copying the “wax on wax off” training of the Karate Kid or that you can become a better boxer like Rocky by hauling an ox cart through the snowy mountains of Russia.

gus

avatar Joshua Trentine August 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Response to Craig:

“I know you are pretty strongly opposed to unilateral loading in resistance exercise.”

Please avoid usage of “resistance exercise.” All exercise, all movement, all activity, and all rest involve resistance. “Resistance exercise” is not a distinctive term. Instead use, “strength training.” -K.H.-

===============================================================================================================

Response to Craig:

“It isn’t immediately obvious to me that training that is appropriately safe and adviseable for an otherwise sedentary middle aged person is necessarily a sufficient preparation for someone who will be participating in sports at a high level. If your sport involves a lot of explosive unilateral movements from the legs (jumping, hurdling, accelerating to a sprint, changing direction while running as speed), it doesn’t seem unreasonable to wonder if there could be more to training athletes for that kind activity than just bilateral leg press/leg extension and maybe leg curl.”

What I have to state here reiterates Gus’ comments.

The truth in this matter is not obvious to the physical therapy community or the exercise physiology community. The truth is not obvious to the physical educators. The truth is not obvious to the TIs who train our military. The truth is not obvious to the competitors in any of the amateur or professional sports. The truth is not obvious to those competing and coaching this Olympics or any previous Olympics.

Our goal at Renaissance Exercise is to empower all of these groups with the understanding that explosive strength training is unnecessarily dangerous because there is no benefit from it to any sport or activity.

Skills are very specific. A skill in one activity does not transfer to another activity. This statement includes eye-hand coordination, balance, agility, explosiveness and a host of other supposedly transferable skills. The notion that skills are transferable is a myth of tremendous proportion responsible for uncounted numbers of injuries, eons of wasted time and ubiquitously squandered metabolic recovery systems.

-Ken Hutchins-

avatar David Shores September 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Josh,

Are you talking about nutation and counter nutation that is believed to occur in the sacro-illica joints while walking and running?

Thanks

David

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avatar Steven Turner August 4, 2012 at 3:43 am

Hi Ken and Joshua,

Thanks for the response and greatly appreciate your time and effort in responding. No need to answer this but when I looked at the graph with all the lines had me thinking that we now have a tool that can give us accurate measurements of force application by the muscles when we train and provide immdeiate feedback for safety.

Thanks again.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Steven,

You’re Welcome……..

!

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avatar Brian Liebler August 4, 2012 at 6:53 am

In response to Chris Highcock’s ques.

I also wonder about this. Is it TSC leg ex followed by leg press? In SS 2n ed. Ken Hutchins listed a thigh specialization routine called “Double Decker” which was back to back leg ex/leg curl sets . My thighs preceived this as one giant set and they responded quite well even with crap equipement.

Perhaps Ken could respond to this.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Rick Chartrand August 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm [edit]
I’m looking forward to October. I have been making some good disctinctions lately… some I had been moving towards slowly, and then kind of got forced into others. When I was last in Ohio and I got to do a workout with Josh, I realized that I was moving too slowly, and I had a ways to go to “learn to inroad properly”. Since then, I had a mishap with a trap bar, where I put my back out real good, but luckily no permanent disc damage. I’m ok now, but went back to my workout with 50% of previous weights and using a special ipad app, am timing “perfect reps” (or they don’t count) of exactly 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down. My first shock is that even without going to failure, I felt significant inroad. I have been gradually increasing and getting 10 reps on all exercises but decline press when I failed at 9, (others were short of failure, but still incredible burn) I’ve done this with another 3 people that I train, albeit only cutting their weights by about 20% but being stricter and they have all reported feeling “this changes everything”. Continuous uninterrupted tension not allowing the muscle to recover at all through on-offing or “wiggles” or moving slowly through easy parts of rep or faster through hard parts of rep creates a much higher quality of rep. I feel like I’m moving beyond just an intellectual appreciation of the “real objective”. Just though I’d share.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Rick,

Good stuff…Like you some of the conclusions I’ve come to have been from connecting the dots intellectually and other decisions have been “forced”…while there are many ways to train what we’re recommending is the only thing that is sustainable ( for most ) and allows for steady gain. As well as the only protocol I would ever train all populations with…Sometimes it takes an injury to learn.

The DeadLift has been an exercise of interest to me for many years; although I have been injured doing this exercise before and the intended effect of this exercise is better experienced with the RenEx Trunk Ext followed by Neck & Shoulder. Generally we don’t recommend Deadlifts for a number of reasons, but if you’re going to do them I believe it’s very important that you find that “low gear” that we discuss. With this protocol you will not need nearly as much resistance and you will feel a more thorough effect. I have read many articles raving about this exercise and I NEVER felt this profound full-body effect before doing them SuperSlow, doing them other way just left me with a sore or tired low back.

I have attempted the SuperSlow Deadlift many times, we’ve even kicked around the idea of doing a Deadlift machine, but there will always be risk and the benefits of Trunk Ext and Neck & Shoulder outweigh what can be accomplished with a barbell. My recommendation would be to avoid the deadlift for most people…before anyone cries blasphemy It’s not that I don’t think it could be a very productive exercise it has more to do with the fact that we just can’t control enough of the variables. As an advanced subject I still would fall back to ValSalva sync when performing this exercise I’m afraid that this exercise just may not fit our paradigm especially how it stands.

Joshua

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avatar marklloyd August 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Neck & Shoulder? Show me.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Hi Mark,

🙂 I’d like to fill this request….currently I have a few other requests I said I would share, but haven’t shot yet. One is an update of the MedX Chest Press video I did some time ago, the other is the Deadlift done SuperSlow (I’m not anxious to post this as I’m afraid to encourage this behavior, some will become injured I’m afraid).

I can shoot a video of Trunk Extension—> Neck & Shoulder in October or November. I’m currently in Canada and in Florida next week then off to Gus’s wedding in Greece for two weeks so I know I won’t get to any filming until I’m past all of the travel.

Thanks for the request…don’t let me forget.

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

More on the Deadlift….I’m forever intrigued by this exercise, but I do not think it’s required…even for those who feel they need to perform this exercise it is certainly not required often:

http://www.renaissanceexercise.com/happy-b-day-slaughtering-sacred-cows%E2%80%A6300-x-42-reps/

avatar Dennis Rogers August 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

The little bit that I have experimented with TSC has been very promising. I can’t see a better way to more thoroughly inroad more safely. This conclusion was reached without having the benefit of any feed back device , I can only imagine it’s effectiveness.
I would like to use my limited equipment especially for clients with motor control difficulties and even for those that are not mastering proper breathing I think it will be a good teaching tool.

Currently almost all of my clients are performing a variation of the ‘Generic’ routine once a week on Medx equipment. I am especially interested in using my Nautilus Pullover for TSC. I am wondering where to put it in the mix of exercises? As a pre-exhaust for the Pulldown or Row or seperately?

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

Dennis,

We use it as a stand alone and as a prefatigue prior to PullDown…the prefatigue version is a brutal sequence with only 1 second delay going from TSC P.O. –>> TSC P.D.

I don’t have a good answer as to who and when you should use this, I’m not sure I know what works best yet…at this point it has been coming down to willingness and tolerance.

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 10:04 am

BTW, TSC with feedback may be the BEST way for a subject to break association with ValSalva sync…real time feedback showing spikes and drops in force is the best cure I’ve seen…we’re learning more from TSC everyday, but the thing we know for sure is that mastery of TSC will improve dynamic exercise with RenEx protocol.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

On July 25th I visited Josh and Al at Overload Fitness in Beachwood, Ohio. I had attended the previous 2 seminars in Ohio and had a chance to try out the RenEx line of equipment to see how it felt. This time I wanted to go through a real, fast-paced workout to experience deep inroading by performing tank emptying effort on every exercise. This is what I wanted and expected and I was not disappointed with Josh instructing me on 7 RenEx machines: Leg Press, Overhead Press, Compound Row, Ventral Torso, Static Pullover, Static Pulldown, and Pulldown.
After lunch and I had rested for about 90 minutes, Al instructed me on Timed Static Contraction(TSC). The following exercises were performed: (TSC)Neck Extension, (TSC)Compound Row, both on the i-multi exercise machine. (TSC)Leg Press, and (TSC) Tricep Pushdown on the i-multiPO/PD. With the feedback and proper instruction THESE ARE DEVASTATING TO YOUR MUSCLES! I was surprised that while my muscles were dysfunctional, I was not as tired as I thought I would be. In fact I was able to drive 8hrs back to Philadelphia. I knew I would be sore.

What followed in the next two days was unexpected!!! I had suffered a neck injury in 2008. Because of debilitating pain in my neck as well as numbness in both arms and hands I needed surgery to intervene. Dr. Todd Albert performed Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion of C5-6, C6-7 with an Anterior Plate Fixation and Allograft Bone using local Autogenous Bone. As a result of damage to the nerves my strength and muscles in my right upper pectoral and lateral head of the triceps had wasted away, gone to sleep and hadn’t responded to any type of exercise. I had tried everything, electric stimulation as well as a myriad of exercises performed on various equipment. I work at a very well equipped fitness center. My doctor was optimistic that I would recover completely. After 4 years, NOTHING! Very disappointing, as I come from a competitive bodybuilding background.

Now to my point for writing this. After the TSC Tricep Pushdown, I was sore throughout the entire lateral head of my right triceps for several days. Since 2008 despite every attempt at trying to work my triceps, nothing else has made me feel anything in the lateral head, I wasn’t even sure that I could effectively contract it. Every other part of my triceps took over on everything that I’ve tried and I never felt like the lateral head was receiving a nerve impulse. THE BEST PART IS THAT MY LATERAL HEAD OF THE TRICEPS ON MY RIGHT ARM IS NOTICEABLY BIGGER AFTER A FEW DAYS! IT SEEMS THAT THE (TSC) EXERCISE HAS AWAKENED IT. Putting it into perspective, I realize that there are more important things but this is HUGE FOR ME! IT MAY HAVE HUGE VALUE TO OTHERS! I can hardly wait to apply this to my pecs and experiment further. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you RenEx Team. Keep going forward in your attempts to advance this field, If other HIT enthusiasts choose not to follow, that’s ok. There are many of us out here who do understand and will lend our continuous support. See you in October, if not before.

Regards,
John Parr

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

John,

We have had some other interesting cases where muscles seem to get “turned-on”….TSC may provide a means to neuro-muscular re-education that is simply not possible any other way.

Joshua

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avatar mark August 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

Statics enable the possibility an extraordinarily brief workout. Is there a such thing as -too- brief?, ( or, at least, not taking full advantage of the time- frame w/the advantageous hormonal environment created by intense exercise).

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Mark,

I think we will see the genius in Mentzer’s philosophy and Later Doug McGuff’s UE1 when applied with TSC and feedback.

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avatar Ken Hutchins August 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Response to Brian Liebler:

If you desire to more effect on the thighs—I don’t why anyone would want this—go ahead and pre-exhaust the thighs with TSC leg extension just before leg press. Just note that you are pre-exhausting the weak link of the leg press, not circumventing the weak link of the leg press.

Ken Hutchins

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avatar Chris Highcock August 9, 2012 at 9:03 am

I did some TSC last night as peexhaust for my normal bodyweight moves and used bathroom scales as someone suggested as a simple load cell. On a TSC pullover and tricep push down they did help to give a metric and feedback on the contraction. Not sure if it could be used for other moves.

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avatar Dare August 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Hello everyone,

As always great posts and info here. My question is regarding what is the difference between TSC as described above and Max Pyramid ala John Little. I’ve used his Max Pyramid and it’s worked well, basically 20 secs of TSC, 10 sec rest and pyramiding the weight up, maybe 5 or 6 increments (plates on machines) until I could not hold the full 20 and then pyramiding back down until I could hold the full 20 or if I got back to my starting weight. My sets would avg a total time of maybe 5 or 6 minutes.

As I understand this, you would choose an exercise and pick a weight the you could barely hold for a straight 90 secs and when you are able to go past the 90 secs, that’s when you would up the weight. Am I correct in this thinking? I know I’ve probably simplified it too much.

Also, would you do a TSC workout and use the same exercises as recommend in Ren EX Manual? Or would you incorporate more of pre-exhaust routine?

Sorry for the long post and hope I didn’t ask too many questions. I really appreciate everyone’s input here on this site, you guys do an outstanding job.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

Hi Dare,

Thanks for your question.

We generally don’t recommend static holds and TSC does not involve holding of any weights.

Joshua

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avatar David August 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Could you elaborate on why you don’t recommend static holds? It seems that if you carefully raise the weight and hold for a long enough time there wouldn’t be much difference. The force application would be constant once the weight is in place and the feedback mechanism would be to keep the weight from moving instead of monitoring a video readout.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

David,

This deserves an entire article, but most of my reasoning is the same as my stance against Negative Only…when you are using loads outside of your neurological capacity you can and will end up full body bracing against the load. Holding weights and lowering weights can be managed by the body in all kind of different ways and done in patterns and position outside of what should have been used for the positive. What our experience tells us is that loads will be progressed beyond actual capabilities of contractile tissue and the end result will not lead to the kind of targeted inroading we desire, but rather a combination of body bracing, bending and skill to maneuver loads down.

Joshua

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avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm

David,

Holding weight is certainly commonly used but as with everything that we are talking about with RenEx, when you hold weight you are reverting back to that “weightlifter” mentality.

In RenEx, what we are trying to get people to understand is that strength TRAINING has almost no relationship to weightlifting or tradition “resistance-type” activities.

Static holds are about psychologically “beating the weight”. Hold it longer, hang on more, add more weight…. Such thinking supports the erroneous philosophy which asks “how much can you lift, how long can you lift it or how many times can you lift it”. This is all fine for competition and sport but not for proper exercise.

Even in our dynamic machines, realize that (technically) the working subject never lifts ANY weight at all. A kevlar strap attached to a clamping assembly actually lifts the weight load. The subject merely experiences resistance as he pushes or pulls against a movement arm that is connected to the kevlar. I say this again and take note that the subject is not technically lifting the weight. At the other end of the kevlar, instead of a weight stack, I could attach rubber bands, strong magnets, or a dwarf with really strong arms to pull on that strap to oppose the subject’s effort against the movement arm. Steel weights are simply the most efficient resistance delivery medium at this time. They are cost effective and easily adjustable. But at the point of contact between the movement arm and the subject’s limb is a measure of WORK not weight. And work can be just as easily be generated via TSC against infinite resistance.

Muscular work is the path to inroad stimulation. RenEx philosophy asks the more appropriate question: “how can you better contract the structures to maximally stimulate them in the briefest time frame”.

The manifestation of this is the intent to load the structures gradually and deeply with intense focus NOT on the weight nor the force and not on the time or the reps but instead on inroading.

While this CAN be done in static holds, the better isometric strategy is TSC because it is more precise, more accurate, more individually tailored, potentially more intensely stimulating to the structures, and, far, far safer. It is also, as Josh has stated, within the neurological capacity of the subject which we believe is key from a biological perspective.

Unfortunately with TSC, feedback is the missing link that can mean the difference between true high intensity effort and simply “wheel spinning”. Fortunately, we’re at the forefront of this with these exciting new imachines.

This is not to say that you cannot perform TSC blindly; you most certainly can. But it requires tremendous practice, study, patience, and even (dare I say) some faith.

gus

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avatar Al Coleman August 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

I don’t think any explanation anyone could give would trump what Gus just wrote.

The process and depth of inroad is what the subject must willfully engage at the onset and is what must be kept at the forefront every second thereafter. The metrics are a result and an after thought necessary only for record keeping, NOT stimulation.

Al

avatar marklloyd August 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm

The paradox: The thing itself, (optimal exercise in this case), doesn’t require measurement to exist, while, ( exercise), science is all about measurement. I applaud the Renex team for walking the tightrope between the two.

avatar Dare August 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Hi Josh,

In the way you are describing a staged TSC, can you explain how it would work with normal machines, just say a pec deck for example? I’m just trying to get a clear picture of how I could apply TSC to my workout with regular gym equipment? Or is it something that has to be done on the iMachines?

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Dare,

We have dedicated an entire chapter to TSC in The Renaissance of Exercise.

http://www.renaissanceexercise.com/webstore/

Joshua

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avatar Dare August 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Hi Josh,

I’ve got the book lol! I’ll go back and reread the part about TSC.

BTW, I sure would like to attend the seminar, just can’t swing it right now. Have you guys thought about taping it and selling it as a DVD?

avatar Joshua Trentine August 11, 2012 at 1:40 am

Dare,

We will be taping the event, I’m not sure in what capacity we will be releasing the content. I do believe some content must be reserved for the conference attendees.

Joshua

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avatar Nathan Block August 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

TSC to me is a silent imitation of dynamic protocol but with much better loading.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Nathan,

Could be….

Joshua

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avatar marklloyd August 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I’ve experimented with longer static times on my own for while, but after giving 30/30/30 a good try, I’ve gotta say, (at least for me), 30/30/30 requires a good trainer as much or more than any dynamic set! I don’t know if I’m overestimating my 1st 30’s proper effort, or “chickening out” on much of the last 30. In either case, I’ve yet to to make it through one exercise the full 90 with what I’d consider a good final effort. Do you know of any trainers in Chicago focused on statics?

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm

And feedback…30/30/30 seems just about right …

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avatar John Tatore August 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

RenX team … How do you determine what force load levels to start the exercise with (number level on graph) .. what amount to use at 75% effort and what amount to use at 100% effort. Do you realize you have it right when maybe the force starts to decline halfway through the last part (100% effort part) … say 15 seconds into it.

Thanks in advance
John

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avatar Andrew Shortt August 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

One thing that always amazes me when I use my crude blocking techniques is how joint issues seem to disappear. Though I can usually get clients to contract and inroad much better with iso’s its all good discomfort. At first I thought it might just be ROM but even when allowing an eventual push through folks seem to play safe without meaning to.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Yes, and this goes beyond the inroad concept we believe there is muscle energy occurring that can help re-align and re-position. Perhaps Al will comment on his experiences with his shoulder???

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avatar Steven Turner August 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Hi

Great reading I have been practicing the TSC getting somewhat better finding the inroading effect very positive.

Gus you mentioned Usain Bolt, just a casual observation
Usain Bolt at 25 years of age should be at his peak of performances. I believe that over the last few years he has sufferred from continual ongoing injuries. Why all the injuries, why the slower times? Usain was outside his 100m world record that he set a number of years ago. In the 200m he ran the same time as Michael Johnson in Alanta? He was beaten at the Jamican games. Was it his ancillary training that caused the injuries impacting on his race times? Or was it the ancillary training that caused the slower race times. But he won.

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avatar Gus Diamantopoulos August 14, 2012 at 1:13 am

Hi Steven,

I have a client from Jamaica who is a remarkable specimen. He’s in his 60’s but he has an uncanny agelessness about him. Very well muscled for not only a man his age but for any man at any age. He’s not particularly strict with diet nor does he do much more exercise or even activity beyond our workouts. I know he plays some tennis and cycles recreationally but nothing else. If you squint when you look at him, you’d swear he was 35 years old. He blames it on his parents and recently went on to tell me that Jamaica is chock full of young men who have unbelievable sprinting ability.

In his school as a youth, he said that it was near impossible to determine who was the fastest track athlete because ALL of the students were great track athletes.

This generally substantiates the idea that the genes hold the key to the first and most important door down the path to Olympic victory.

And in general, we find that the sport chooses the athlete, not the other way around. Most sprinters look dang near identical. Same with most cyclists and swimmers and gymnasts and weightlifters and tennis players and high jumpers. In many cases you could line up all the participants of each sport, cut their heads off and play musical bodies..

…but not with exceptions like Usain Bolt. 6’5″ tall, a muscular but lankier build than any other top level sprinter. Usain’s height technically is marked as a DISadvantage in a sport where the average height is between 5’9 and 6’3″. This is because of balance issues and the difficulty in creating rapid stride turnover (regardless of the fact that he literally can take less strides). All in all, it is widely regarded that at 6’5″, Bolt’s prowess is an anomaly. It’s actually funny watching the other runners beating him off the block only to be left in the proverbial dust as Bolt takes flight.

And flight it is, as it has been estimated that in the 9-10 seconds of running the 100 meters, Bolt’s feet are touching the ground for less than 4.

So what it is about someone like Bolt that can not only beat the odds but set an entirely new standard?

For starters, Bolt is the genetic exception that can generate the kind of power that traditionally more compact runners are known for. His tall frame is somehow able to blend the advantage of stride length with great power and turnover. But height alone is not the factor; if it was, sprinters would look more like Basketball players…

Bolt represents an entirely new species in the sprinting universe. As far as his recent injuries and slower times? Well, there are number of answers to that, i suppose. To begin with, it’s lonely at the top and if you’re truly at the summit, there’s nowhere to go but down. Look at Federer and Woods as examples. Federer at one point was so good people wondered if he was a dang robot. But lo and behold, not this year…

Pressure, age, and perhaps even a little boredom can take hold. And in the quest for staying at the top, new techniques are always sought. And in many cases, such techniques can wreak havoc on bodies.

Improper strength training practices, overtraining, dietary changes, weight gain or weight loss…. all of these factors can radically mess with the critical timing to be at one’s best.

Consider also that in a sport such as sprinting, your competitors set the pace. Bolt doesn’t run by himself to set the record. He runs against other men. He NEEDS to run next to another man so that he can become aroused enough to will himself to victory. This is critical in running as countless coaches and sprinters have said in the past: when you run against another guy, there’s a deeply ingrained hard-wiring that kicks in and trumps all the training and practice. It’s the sporting equivalent of kill or be killed.

Bolt certainly has good runners to compete with but I am awed when I really watch his races carefully. I have never seen Bolt really give it in the last 1-3 seconds of the race. He almost appears to slow down. Almost. It looks as if he’s saying, ‘yeah, i got some juice left but no way am i giving that up just yet’. You can actually see his competitors straining at the finish much like we do in a set to failure. Bolt, on the other hand seems to practically coast…It’s like Achilles being called out to battle the greatest of the great only to slay him in two strokes and then go back to his lunch before it gets cold.

I am of those spectators who say that the Olympics begins at the men’s 100meter event. There’s nothing more basic and fundamental than the planet coming together to watch 10 of the fastest guys in the world run just to see who can go from A to B the fastest.

My personal thought on Bolt is that he will be at the top for a while yet. He may not have beaten his records this year but there wasn’t a man on earth that could even begin to threaten his effortless runs. He is, at the moment, untouchable…if he can keep injuries at bay.

Back to my Jamaican client…he said this to me…”Gus, i could be wrong but no matter how hard other Olympians train, a guy like Bolt is a living example of the laid back lifestyle of the jamaican people. i’ll be you there’s room for more discipline, more training…assuming he wants or needs it”

One day Bolt will be beaten. It may be another Jamaican but whoever he is he’ll probably be yet another step up in the gene pool…perhaps just as tall but with an even more powerful musculature…whose flight is beyond comprehension. I guess we’ll just have to see.

In the meantime, I cant wait for the next race.

g

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avatar Bradley Warlow August 16, 2012 at 5:06 am

I think I found an easy explanation to some of the early questions reagarding static holds versus TSC. I would just like to mention now I didnt know untill recently that the tendons had no contractile ability and that the muscle is purely the force generator! Where as the tendons are the force resistor, or holder, so to speak. This lead me to the conclusion that when your limbs are moving, then this means that your muscles are working, obviously . so, what I then realised from this is that static hold against a moveable object is inferior to contracting against an imovable object like with TSC. In one case your holding, whereas in the other your attempting to move at all times. hence greater muscle fibre stimulation. ;D

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avatar mark August 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Dynamic sets that end in failure have become isometric. Recommended timing for statics is 90 seconds. If a dynamic set “comes up short” of 90 seconds, should we continue effort until we reach at least a total 0f 90 seconds?

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Mark,

I think there is a pretty finite amount of time that one can exert after positive failure. It tends to be something under 10 seconds. That being said, when the subject has load cell feedback in front of him showing force production and time they will better produce force beyond positive failure(crude weight stack feedback/movement). I can not accurately say how far we want to push these extremes, but my experience tells me that the more consolidated the training the more we need/can push the edges.

Joshua

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avatar jim August 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Read it , get it .
1. Creating standards to satisfy the ” medical ” community to establish ” exercise ” as a standard of care requires this tedious approach and for those doing the work , dedicating their careers to it , the excitement is palpable . The new models of ” health care ” will fund the winners based on performance data , replacing fee for service ; with data as arbiter , the winners will be clear ….for the new funding models . Thus i-machines are about this data …feedback is unnecessary overkill to any rational personal approach to exercise but necessary in a clinical setting .

2. The realm that is truly cutting edge in this space is the work being done on sarcopoenia . Let’s not forget that diet is 90% and exercise is only 10 % . So we are talking about a marginal effect in terms of existing models of health ( which easily can be realized with the machines at consumer level gyms @ 2% of the cost , again rational goals ) ….. the killer app that takes THIS project to the future is the protocol that can swithch back on ” youth genes ” in the mitochondria = fountain of youth and the data that confirms it .

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avatar marklloyd August 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I don’t understand your “feedback is unnecessary…” post. Perhaps if an expert trainer’s observing the subject’s effort, or if the subject’s one of the intensely motivated minority, but for the rest of us, feedback’s what inspires us to squeeze out that extra pound of effort that may have been imperceptible subjectively, that adds up to incredible gains over a few months.

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avatar jim August 28, 2012 at 11:32 am

Yes mark , you are correct …in terms of the rational goals of the Ren Ex hobbyist…. for whom such marginal ” gains ” are the measure of enjoyment and the value of the price paid , the next ounce of load ( and I do think that it has to be in such increments if we are talking about RenEx National Champion ) is necessary to measure and file in the database . In this framing , the Protocol is becoming gold standard over the next 30 years .

For the rest of the 99.9 % of the population , doing the ad hoc approach @ $ 10 / month at a commercial gym along with a paleo type diet , will put them at the top of the list of any ” healthy ” metric . I have no citation for this but I would bet that any such cohort would win the competition for funding by Insurance Companies / ACO -CCO . Getting to that ” plateau ” is already a 80 % win .

BTW , the evolution of Ren Ex will require a suite of Protocols that are administered in those ” off days ” . Again no citation but personal experience tells us that Yoga , Tai Chi and Biofeedback will have to be mobilized as this gets very ” mind body ” ….these are proven models to the necessary ” inner work ” required .

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Hey Jim,

The 80/20 rule certainly applies.

Yes micro-loading increments(ounces) are absolutely crucial with TSC. Perhaps the first time we have enough resolution to actually fine tune resistance and the overall exercise Rx.

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine October 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Dare,

We were glad that you joined us!

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avatar Dan November 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm

There seems to be conflicting timing info in that at one point there is mention of 3 stages of 30s but then later on, both the graphs show a single stage of 90s, the second with a 20s ramp-up.

Which method are you currently promoting?

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avatar todd turnbull April 23, 2014 at 9:38 pm

“In 1920, researchers at Springfield College in Massachusetts observed a fascinating phenomenon while studying the effects of muscular inactivity.”
I keep seeing this reference but cannot find it an any medical literature as a scientific study that actually exist. Can you please provide a reference to the original study???

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avatar Yousef KashKash September 19, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I am very pleased with this page. Excellent work.
Please make the equipment commercially available.

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avatar Mark September 22, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Subjects can exert more muscle tension isometrically than concentrically, & again more eccentrically,(controlling a weight), than isometrically. Consider the next level of eccentric volitional muscular tension: The attempt to resist a slow-moving unstoppable force. This can go WELL beyond the usual eccentric effort. Dangerous? After years of weekly applications on hundred of subjects, (many of them seniors), not at all.

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avatar Joshua Trentine September 22, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Subjects can exert the exact same force no matter which phase of exercise they may be performing….the can absorb more force imposed upon them on the negative but can exert no more muscular output than they could on the positive.

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 10, 2012 at 9:07 am

Craig,

Skill VS Conditioning…again.

Yes, if your sport involves running I would strongly recommend you do so.

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 11, 2012 at 1:30 am

Hey Dare,

I’m not trying to be illusive, but I don’t believe I can explain any better than Ken has in our manual or Gus has done in the blog. Perhaps some of these things need demonstration for the best understanding.

Joshua

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avatar Joshua Trentine August 11, 2012 at 1:41 am

Dare,

We will be taping the event, I’m not sure in what capacity we will be releasing the content. I do believe some content must be reserved for the conference attendees.

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avatar Dare August 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Hi Josh,

Didn’t take it that way at all but that was nice of you to let me know. Looking forward to what the future brings from you guys at RenEx!

Dare

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