KC Craichy’s SuperHealth Podcasts: Miracle of Isometrics

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Posted on 5th October 2011 by admin in Super Health |SuperHealth Podcasts

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KC Craichy talks with natural strength expert John Peterson about how isometrics can help you reach the goal of Super Health.

Audio Transcript

KC: Welcome to Living Fuel TV. I’m KC Craichy with special guest, John Peterson. Welcome, John.

John: Brother, great to be here.

KC: Glad to have you. We’ve been going over some fascinating stuff with you, John, about the history of exercise and how to use bodyweight exercise and all that sort of thing, and it’s important to our viewers, because a lot of them are coming to us, saying, “What can we do to be in the shape we need to be in come summer,” which is just a few weeks away now. I’m bringing in people that are just doing it different in a really leading- edge and powerful, logical way, and you’re one of those guys.

John: Thank you.

KC: I say, you’re the natural bodyweight health guy. Obviously, I wrote about it in my book.

John: By the way, Living Fuel is a big part of what I teach. It truly is. You’ve got the best natural food on this planet to help people reduce excess body fat, build really strong, lean muscle. It’s really the super food, KC.

KC: Well, thank you.

John: And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

KC: I appreciate that. We love it, and we’ll get into some more nutrition stuff in a little bit, but right now, let’s get into what you do from a bodyweight, isometric. Talk to us about isometrics.

John: Isometrics? OK. It’s kind of a lost art.

KC: It’s a lost art, isn’t it?

John: Now, back right after World War II, you can imagine, Germany especially, had thousands upon thousands, tens of thousands of soldiers returning that needed to be rehabbed, because of an injury or what have you, but with limited beds. Back in those days, in the late 1940s, they really didn’t have enough equipment, regular equipment for a standard rehab, so then, the scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund, Germany, they researched something. Now, there had been a strongman on the European continent by the name of Alexander Zass. He was famous for breaking chains, bending horseshoes, bending bars. Now, get this. He developed his isometric technique as a prisoner of war, in World War I. The story goes that he actually got so strong he bent the bars, made a grappling hook, lowered himself out the window, off a wall, and escaped, true story.

KC: Wow!

John: He later developed his own exercise system using chains and things that he sold. It was purely isometric. I’m thinking that what happened was, right after the war, when they needed to rehab, they probably wondered, the scientists at Max Planck, “Is it true? Can you really rehab muscle, build muscle, regain strength, through the use of isometric contraction” which is actually putting the muscle into fixed positions, contracting it two-thirds of your maximum strength. They discovered that if a two-thirds contraction were held at any given point, for six to ten seconds, that that muscle would be stimulated to grow and strengthen as much as it can be. It was utilized with phenomenal success. From the late 1940s, all the way through the mid-1960s, it was a part of sport, even here in America.

KC: It’s funny, because I go back to football practice in high school. I remember that one of the drills you have to do is you have to get on all fours and someone stands besides you and you put your head up besides their leg, and you press as hard you can for ten seconds, a count of ten, and then you do the other side, because you have to have a strong neck in football. I also remember, when I first got started in martial arts, years ago, that this muscle here had to be tight. I remember somebody teaching me an isometric activity on this, and it’s rock-hard to this day. I really wonder if there’s any better way to build the size of a muscle, not to mention the strength of a muscle, than isometrics. Now, the big knock on isometrics has been, I think, mostly from people who are not really schooled in isometrics, is that isometrics limits what to build, so speak to that.

John: OK. Isometrics limits flexibility only if that’s all you do. Charles Atlas integrated dynamic strength exercises that integrated full movement, as well as the isometric component. Now, even today, though, for rehab, I have a friend that had to have shoulder surgery, and the doctors wanted him to perform a series of isometric contractions. What you have to do is, you need to do the contractions at multiple points, throughout a range of motion. In other words, let’s say for your biceps here. KC, put one fist over the other. Now, we start here, and we do our first contraction there. Then we change the angle here. That’s for a second one. Finally, the third one, up here. What you want to do is hit multiple points within any given range of motion. Then you don’t have the problems with flexibility that have normally been associated with it.

KC: Plus, the dynamic tension or isoflection when you freeze a muscle, and then you move it while it’s as tight as it can, and you move it again and it gives you a complete range of motion, and it actually gives you a stretch at the same time.

John: Well, Sensei over here, he’s been using these dynamic tension exercises for years and years. It was part of his martial arts training, Sanchin Kata, for instance, iron wire. This has been utilized in the martial arts for centuries and centuries as natural strength-building techniques.

KC: Bruce Lee was one of these guys.

John: Oh boy, was he ever, and isometrics were a huge component of what Bruce Lee actually did.

KC: Well, one of the problems with isometrics I find with people, they don’t breathe when they’re doing isometrics, and you have to breathe.

John: You have to breathe, yes. Actually, what you do is, while you’re building your contraction, you breathe in, and then when you hit your peak contraction, that’s when you start a controlled exhale. It sounds like air being let out of a tire, I mean, literally like a “Sssss,” just like that. That will control fluctuations in blood pressure, but now you’re mentioning blood pressure. Did you know that there was a doctor in New York City, in the 1960s, that had phenomenal success in the lowering of blood pressure through isometric contraction?

KC: I’m not surprised in the least. To think into the muscle, explain that, because that is so critical.

John: That was part of Alois P. Swoboda’s training method, way back, a hundred years ago, and it’s interesting because in “The Education of a Bodybuilder,” Arnold Schwarzenegger himself mentioned that he noticed that, if he wasn’t thinking into what he was doing, that he wasn’t getting the results he wanted, so he had to focus on exactly what he was doing. It wasn’t the weight. It was the focus and the intensity, thinking into the muscles.

KC: The muscles, the main one driving, like a curl, you would think, into the bicep. John: Yes, you’re thinking into your biceps, yes.

KC: Now, this thing about thinking it into the point where you can actually cause a contraction. Now, this is something I thought Ii understood from you. You can correct me on this, and it’s worked for me, as crazy as it might seem. After I work out my hamstrings, for instance, I’ll contract them until they cramp, and then I’ll leave them cramped until the cramp goes away, and I find I have way less cramping in my hamstrings.

John: Yes. Well, the interesting thing about that is, as you practice that, you get to the point where it takes more and more to actually make that cramp happen.

KC: Right, I almost can’t get it to cramp now.

John: Right, that’s because your muscles have become so strong and the neuro units, too. The nerve units to the muscles, everything has been really enhanced to the maximum, so you can contract any muscle whenever you want, and it won’t necessarily cramp anymore.

KC: What you find in the gym is, when you get to the point where you’ve got a cramp, you’ll fight it off right away and rub it out. I think, tell me if I’m wrong, I think it’s better to relax through the cramp. I’m not talking about a cramp at the third quarter of a football game. I’m talking about thinking into the muscle.

John: I agree with you. Thinking into the muscle, you feel that cramp. There’s a very simple exercise that everybody out there, watching us, can do right now. All they need to do is extend their arms straight out in front of them, turn the palm up. Now, bring your hand and touch your little finger to your earlobe, and then try to twist your thumb up and see what happens. You want to keep your arm up, and you’ll feel a contraction in your bicep that really cramps, right?

KC: I want to finish this segment by saying there’s been research to show that you can think, you can think through a muscular activity, and not actually do any muscular activity. John: I’ve read the research.

KC: You can actually show significant growth in muscle, so my point here is that, when you learn, and this is a learning process. I’ve been doing this now for five years, and I’m only now really getting the “Oh, I can make that muscle do this, or I can make that muscle do this, this muscle do that,” but just thinking about the people who have a cast on their leg, you can think into that muscle and get benefit, instead of atrophy.

John: Absolutely.

KC: You can also do isometrics in some of those cases, too, when the pain is not there. Anyway, it’s just some fuel for thought. Thanks, John. We sure hope you enjoyed it, and we wish you super health.

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