Static Contraction Training is Pete Cisco’s and John Little’s entry into the voluminous best way to build muscle canon. I have to be honest: the best thing about this book for me was the fashion. Nothing says giant muscles and bodybuilder machismo like little striped leotards or velor sweaters worn with tiny shorts and a belt. I read this book because strongman Adam Glass recommended to me in an early interview we did, before either one of us started weight training with Gym Movement.
So of course, now I would take the advice in the book and test it out. If it tested well, I would go with it. If not, not.
Here is a breakdown of the book.
Building muscle with static contraction training
The premise is simple: the more weight you lift, the more muscle you can build. Where it differs from most books is in its emphasis on moving enormous amounts of weight through tiny ranges of motion. Think putting a barbell on your back, loading it up to 600 pounds, and squatting down an inch or so. Or just holding it there, hence the static contraction part–static simply means not moving.
You don’t have to do a lot of exercises and you don’t have to have a long workout.
I once heard Dan John at a strength training workshop. He said that if you unracked 600 pounds and stood with it in the clean position, you would not be saying “Well, that’s not enough to get a good workout with.” “Try holding onto 600 pounds for a couple of seconds and you’ll have your own opinions,” he said.
The only reason I do not incorporate much static training into my own workouts is because I want to move as much as possible. For me, I usually feel best–and it usually tests best–when I move through greater ranges of motion, not less. But at times, the smaller movements definitely work better for me. In those instances, because I like to lift heavy whenever possible, I would not have any issues experimenting with static contractions. I just don’t think that putting the body under stress and then holding the position is natural.
But in terms of sheer muscle building, Sisco and Little certainly have physiques that a lot of men would envy, if not the fashion sense. But hey, it was a crazy time.
It is hard for me to see any training advice these days without filtering it through my Gym Movement and Grip and Rip glasses. But I continue to read and study because every book I read gives me more ideas of things I can test. So I can advocate testing the ideas in the book, but I would not personally follow this program to the letter, just because I no longer follow any set programs.