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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

pqtd #112 Exercise by not Moving a Muscle!

This sounds crazy, but it’s not- you really can get the best workout of your life by not moving a muscle! How?  Isometrics.
Now isometrics has gotten a really bad rap for a long time, the reasons for which are quite convoluted.  Back in the 1960’s (I’ll try to make this really short), Bob Hoffman, editor of Strength and Health magazine, was a proponent of isometrics.  He was also a big proponent of barbells, and so he incorporated barbells into isometric training with use of a “power rack”.  A power rack is a very useful piece of equipment, much more useful to my mind than barbells, and I have one in my training dungeon basement!  It is a large steel “cage” that can support thousands of pounds, and has steel pins that can be set at any height to hold a barbell.  This can save you if you “miss” a lift, that bar cannot come crashing down!
Also, however, you can press a barbell into the pin, pushing as hard and as long as you like, thus giving you a great isometric workout.
Bob Hoffman had his athletes train with the power rack with isometrics, and they were setting world records like crazy!  Unfortunately, at the same time they were also taking steroids, which had recently become available, and so all the benefit of isometrics was attributed to steroids.  This was a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, however, since isometrics do have incredible benefits in training!  And, although a power rack is nice to have, it is certainly not necessary at all. 
Probably the very best way to train isometrically is simply by gradually flexing and holding each muscle in the body, together for a short time.  Really, it is that simple- slowly flex your calves, thighs, glutes, back, chest, shoulders and arms.  Flex them, hard, about 80-90% of your maximum effort… hold that for about 6-7 seconds… and then gradually relax.  Repeat this same exercise for 6-8 times. 
Congratulations!  You have just done more for your body, both the physique and for your circulation, than anything else you could have done.  Every muscle, including tendons and ligaments, has been stimulated to strengthen.  And most importantly, this exercise causes blood pressure to regulate better than any other!  It can lower high blood pressure almost magically, without drugs, and without a major time commitment.  You can do it anywhere, anytime, and you don’t need to go to a gym or change clothes. 
There is even a computerized device using this principle called the Zona Plus.  This is an ingenious device that is winning accolades, and rightly so, for solving high blood pressure without drugs!  How does it do this?  Isometrics.   The Zona Plus is a small ball that you squeeze as hard as you can for two minutes.  It can tell from computerization just how hard you need to squeeze, and can be used by very debilitated people, since it senses how much they can safely squeeze, and limits them to that limit.
This is great, and if you are debilitated and/or have dangerously high blood pressure I recommend this device to you.  But, it costs hundreds of dollars, and if you are currently really healthy like me…
I recommend the former isometric exercise!  It’s free, it’s very effective on multiple levels (not just your grip strength), and it hits your entire body!  Go ahead- work out!  But for this one- don’t move a muscle.

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