I just finished reading John Little’s 2004 follow up book to Static Contraction Training.
Max Contraction Training: The Scientifically Proven Program for Building Muscle Mass in Minimum Time by John Little is a much better book than Static Contraction Training. Instead of being light on text and heavy on photos of steroid monsters, this book dives into the details of how to use static holds to trigger muscle growth. And the photos are of normal people doing the actual exercise described in the text.
Max Contraction is different from other weight lifting protocols in that there are no “reps”. The weight is lifted slowly to the point where the muscle is in maximum contraction. At that point, the weight is held fixed for 1 to 6 seconds. Then the weight is slowly lowered. That completes the exercise. You’re done. You’ve triggered full muscle contraction. Move on to the next exercise. If you were able to hold the weight for more than 6 seconds, it was too light. Increase the weight.
It takes me about 10 minutes to do a Body By Science workout. With Max Contraction you’ll spend more time moving between exercises than doing the exercises. You can probably finish in under 2 minutes.
The problem I see with Max Contraction Training is that for a few exercises, the weight I can hold for just 1 to 6 seconds is much greater than the weight I can safely lift into the maximum contraction position. This is where a trainer or spotter can help.
This concern is addressed in the updated version called The Max Pyramid Protocol (h/t Conditioning Research for finding this). This version of static holds stresses TUL (time under load) over poundage. For more information on that plan read:
- The Max Pyramid Protocol (link down)
- The comment from trainer Greg Anderson of Ideal Exercise on Max Contraction and Max Pyramid
I’ve done a few lifts using the Max Pyramid Protocol and found they were effective, especially the leg press. Starting next week I plan to test out the full plan using Max Contraction / Max Pyramid. I’ll let you know how it goes.