Press Pause to Build More Muscle
September 14, 2021
Hold it right there! Most fellas seem to either lift weights with a fast or slow tempo but rarely or never doing isometric holds.
What in the world are isometric holds, you ask?
Isometric holds (also called static holds) are when you hold a weight in its most difficult position for a certain length of time. For instance, while performing the bench press, you hold the weight in the bottom position for 5 seconds.
For centuries, isometric holds have been used in yoga, martial arts and bodybuilding.
In the early 20th century, most bodybuilders (who all were natural since anabolic steroids was yet to be discovered until the 1930s) used static holds to build muscle.
How Isometric Holds Build Muscle
Isometric holds build muscle by forcing your muscle fibers to contract without relaxation for a certain length of time. A research study has shown that more muscle is contracted when you perform an isometric hold vs. concentric (lifting weight) and eccentric (lowering weight) of a specific exercise.
In other words, more muscle contracted increases your potential for muscle growth. When you expose your muscles to additional time under tension (TUT), more muscle gets activated. In addition, isometric holds will help build your muscular strength as well.
How to Use Isometric Holds for Bodybuilding Exercises
Now you’re aware of the muscle-building benefits of isometric holds, here are 6 exercises that you can utilize that tactic with:
- Bench Press: Slowly lower the barbell and hold in the bottom position for about 5-10 seconds.
- Barbell Squats: Lower yourself slowly to the squat position and hold it for about 5-10 seconds
- Chin-ups or pull-ups: Pull your body weight up to the top position (until your chin passes the bar) and hold it there for about 5-10 seconds.
- Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Slowly lower the dumbbell to the mid-way position of the exercise and hold it there for about 4-5 seconds.
- EZ-bar curls: Hold the EZ-bar curl at the midway position of the exercise and hold it there for about 4-5 seconds
- Dumbbell Back Row: Slowly lift the dumbbell to the right side of your torso and hold in that position for about 5 seconds. Repeat on the left side.
For each exercise, use a weight that you can handle for at least 10 reps because the TUT is brutal!
So every now and then, when your muscle gains come to a halt, instead of lifting the weight like you usually do, hold it and pause!