The use of isometrics has been around for close to 60 years and had it's hay-day during the 70's with multiple programs built around static contractions. Most of these programs fell by the wayside and didn't stand the test of time - not because they faded away, but because they didn't work well. There are, however, some uses that when applied to maximal strength development, can have a positive effect.

So, they have been around forever, kind of suck, but still can be used with great success in some instances.

If you've been around the block, you've read that isometric lifts are specific to ranges of motion. I've read anything between 10 to 25 degrees of the range you are working in. This means that to cover an entire movement, you'd have to train in several different positions.

Let's back up for those who may not know. An isometric contraction is when you either attempt a lift that is much heavier than you can move, or you apply force against any other kind of immovable object. This produces extremely high tension in the muscle by building progressively for between 3-5 seconds and then decreases in about 1/2 that time.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to this type of training, but rather than expanding on them, I'd rather take advantages and show you how they can be used to help get your deadlift moving.

The one advantage is that the strength gains ARE specific to the ROM you are working in. So, if your deadlift is weak at the lock-out, you can set the pins up in a power rack. That way, when you pull, the bar will be stopped in the exact position of your mini-max (your weak point). Pull the bar into the pin and exert as much force as you can for 4-8 seconds and then release. You can take this a step further and load the bar to 40-50% of your one rep max and do the same thing.

Some basic recommendations:

  • Keep the time of contraction between 4 and 8 seconds
  • No more than 6 contractions per set
  • No more than 5 sets per movement
  • Use no more than 3 times per week
  • Limit to one movement per training session.
  • Don't pick your strongest position, pick your weakest

It is also important to note that the carry-over of this type of training to dynamic movements is very low. There is no carry-over outside of maximal strength development and its value may not be worth the effort.

This method also works well for the bench press pushing against pins.

Business Tip of the Week - So what is it you really want?

I don't care what type of business you are in, there will come a time when you will have to negotiate. Better stated there will NEVER be a time when you are not in some type of a negotiation(s). Usually more than one at a time. While the majority of these are not that big of a deal, you'll run into some that are very big and complicated. If you don't know what you are doing, you'll get eaten alive.

I've been told the best position to ever be in is the one where you don't care at all what the outcome is and have no problem walking away. The problem is sometimes you do care what the outcome will be because it could be critical to your growth strategy, culture or bottom line.

When it comes to learning this skill, I'm not a big fan of any of the books I've read. The best way to learn this skill is to be mentored or attend seminars that put you in the front lines of negotiation. I've been to several and can't say I've ever been to a bad one. Most of the skills are simple and just need to be practiced to become effective. Experience is also very good learning tool, as long as you go outside of your comfort zone.

Before continuing, I need to say that there are times when it's better to have someone else do this for you. If it's over your head or legal in nature, back out and hire the absolute best you can afford. In this regard you get what you pay for...and trust me, you will pay.

Here are some simple concepts that might help you out.

1. Know the deadline - If there is a deadline KNOW what it is. We all know what our deadlines are, but you really need to know what the other party's deadline is. Work as hard as you can to discover this. This will let you know how much time you have and when they will be under the most pressure. It is also extremely important to know if these deadlines can be pushed back and how far. Can you push your deadline back? Can the other party move theirs back if they really had to? While quick deals are great, you better know the terms beforehand. If you don't, they can end up as deadly and very costly mistakes.

2. Never assume anything - Usually what you think to be true isn't close to the truth. Many people will cast the most negative light they can on a situation and assume this could and will be the final outcome. These assumptions will eat you alive and could end up being your downfall. You need to be skeptical - VERY skeptical. Never assume anything and confirm everything. Don't assume the other side knows their budget, limitations, or even what their end game is. Most of the time they don't have a clue past the initial step they are working on and haven't thought ahead at all. If you assume they thought ahead and base your decisions on this, your fear will get the best of you.

3. Know who your decision impacts - In business your decisions can't be personal if you have a staff and business to run. You have to make decisions based on what is best for the company, not yourself or any other individual. You absolutely can't be overly accommodating to the whims of the other party at the expense of your profit/productivity/culture. At the same time, you need to know who (exactly) this decision will effect on the other side. In football and all other sports much time is spent studying the other team. This is very much the same thing.

4. What is the real agenda - Think back to any negotiation you've ever had. How many times did the real issue turn out to be what was tossed on the table first? This is a good tactic because it can hide what you really want if the other party isn't willing to take their time, ask the right questions, not make assumptions, and you know will not like what you tossed out. It can also back fire because if they are smart and have done their homework and have asked the right questions, they will know what you may be looking for is much more than what it is on the table. Because of this, they make take the first offer and you never get what you really were looking for in the first place. Most of the time you will be very surprised at what the other side wants.

5. Don't concede first on any major issue - It's better to concede on smaller ones and see what happens. Many times this is enough to get to a mutual decision. What may seem small to you could be very big to the other side and could be their original agenda. If you do offer any concession, big or small, you should attach some type of condition to it to better enhance your position as well as justifying your original stance.

6. Take great notes and journal everything you can remember after any correspondence (keep ALL correspondence and any conformation of it). People love to forget what they said. This is one thing I love about e-mail. While it can be taken out of context and misunderstood, it's still a record of what was discussed.

7. You have to be good at dealing with conflict, adversity and ambiguity - not much to be said here. The more you get into these situations, the easier it gets. If you feel uncomfortable don't back out and run - dig in and learn. You might get your ass kicked, but you will be MUCH better next time.

8. You need to like yourself for who you really are and know your self-worth does not ride on your decision. What I'm saying is you might not be liked that well when it's over and you need to be ok with that. If you cause - vision - aim is strong enough this will never be an issue.

9. Don't be "that guy." You know who I mean. The lying prick who will say whatever he can to get what he wants. Great negotiations, while can get stressful, should be done with integrity. In the end, both parties should have respect for each other regardless if a deal is made or not. Resorting back to No. 8. You can not like the person, but still respect the way they communicated their side of the issue. If you are "that guy"it won't take long and nobody will want to work with you.

While this may look like a grim picture of negotiations, very few really become escalated and if you ever feel pushed into a situation that you can't afford (a training client pushing for pricing you can't do) then just say no and it's over. You don't have to negotiate anything you don't want to and if it is going to kill your profit/productivity/culture then walk. It's NEVER worth it in the long run.