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Static King

One of the best ways to improve your strength is by moving nothing at all.

If your goal is strength, putting a zero-movement strategy into your repertoire could be exactly what you need.

By way a review, a static contraction, also known as an isometric, is one which the muscular force equals the external resistance, producing no movement whatsoever. For example, you loaded up the barbell on the bench press with much more than your 1RM (one rep max) and began pressing against it with all your might, you would have a static contraction. Even if the bar didn’t budge, despite the lack of movement a ton of muscular activity would be going on inside the muscle.

Research confirms you can produce more force and strength statically than you can during positive contractions. How can this benefit you in terms of strength? You need to look no further than your nearest sticking point. A static-training plan can help you blast past those sticking points that usually act as roadblocks. The good news is that you can apply the technique to just about any exercise from the squats to overhead press even to bicep curls. Be warned, though: it is more difficult than it looks. Applying continual maximal effort without movement is brutal and effective.

Be Specific
One key factor to keep in mind is that, although strength increases are associated with static training, they are angle specific. When you train statically at a particular angle, you gain strength and size only at that angle. Take for instance the overhead press. If you worked statically at one particular point along the path of the ROM, you would gain strength there and nowhere else. The gain in strength is not necessarily distributed along the entire range of motion. For this reason, you need to apply static training at various places.

The Weak Link
So where do you start? Go straight to the weakest point of your range of motion, which is near the bottom of most exercises. If you are working on the bench press, set the safety bars to the sticking point and load up the bar. Forget about it being your “weakest point” and be sure to load more weight than you could normally move so that you are certain to have absolutely no movement. If you are working out at peak gym hours or you do not feel comfortable putting that much weight on the bar, you can work with and empty bar, but from underneath the safeties. Simply press the bar up into the safeties as hard as possible.

A couple of items to note: On your pressing movements be very careful not al allow your hands to slip. Using chalk during static training is a good idea, because if your hands slip, your wrists can sustain severe injury, second, for the pulling movements throw on some pulling straps to make sure your pulls are not hindered by your grip strength. If you do not wear straps, use chalk instead.

Adding a static day a couple of times a month into your routine across all bodyparts will help trigger serious strength gains. The better able you are to blast through sticking points, the more weight you will ultimately move during standard weight training sessions.

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Four Exercises That Are Better Than the Bench Press

If you want to build a bigger and stronger chest, here are four moves you would be crazy to overlook.

1) Partial to Benching
Whether you are talking about chest or any other bodypart, partials are all about overloading a particular portion of the range of motion (ROM) without doing a full range rep. By bench pressing with partials, you break the lift into smaller components within the range of motion. This allows you to isolate a particular portion of the lift and allow you to work only at that angle. This further allows you to train and lift more weight over a shortened ROM.

2) Chained to The Bench
Can chains really make the bench press even better? First and foremost, the idea of chains isn’t merely about adding weight, though at first glance, it might appear to be. You may be thinking ‘Why not simply add more plates?” That is a good question. But with chains added to the ends of the bar, you actually vary the resistance during the bench move from the bottom of the rep to the top, unlike when you simply add a weight (which goes along for the ride all the way through the range of motion). Chains cause the bar to get heavier the further you press it away from your chest, which allow for maximal tension on the on the pecs when the muscle is at it’s strongest.

3) Try Not To Move
This is a technique that focuses on zero visible movement. You naturally think that the bar needs to be moving for there to be any benefit. But indeed, in no other exercise can isometrics better catapult you to the next level than on the bench press. An isometric contraction is one in which the muscular force equals the external resistance, producing no visible movement. A good example would be if you loaded up the bar with more weight than you could possibly bench and it doesn’t move an inch. While the bar may not be moving, that does not mean nothing is going on inside your muscles. Research, confirms that you can increase both size and strength doing isometric contractions.

4) Bench In Reverse
Like the other techniques, this one starts on the standard bench press. The idea is to completely flip the bench press, which is exactly what a “reverse movement” does. To review, here is how a typical rep goes: you unrack the bar and hold it above your chest. Nect, inhale and slowly lower the bar towards your pecs (this is not a negative, just lower it under control as usual) before exploding the bar back to the start position. That is how you have done it a thousand times, but we are going to completely reverse the protocol.

A reverse bench press has you beginning with each rep with the bar at your chest, completely eliminating that initial downwards phase. Unless you have tried it, you may not realise that when you lower the bar to the chest, you are actually building up negative energy (sometimes called elastic energy) inside the target muscles as well as the assisting delts and triceps. When the bar reaches the chest, you explode upward, that built-up energy is used to press the bar back up to the start. If you did not have the built-up energy, as is yhe case with the reverse bench press, it’s more difficult to bench press. This is precisely what reverse movements do. They eliminate the built-up negative energy that makes the positive (concentric contraction easier to perform. Each and every rep starts from a full stop, making it much harder to complete.