Monday, March 30, 2009

The Rader Isometronic Course - Peary Rader

The Rader Isometronic Power and Muscle Development Course
Power Simplified No. 2
by Peary Rader

A new system of training that is giving most amazing results in both POWER AND DEVELOPMENT OF MUSCLE SIZE. A system for the new trainee and for the most advanced lifter, bodybuilder and for men seeking to improve their abilities in any line of athletic endeavor.

This course has been developed and prepared by Peary Rader, leading authority on physical training for the past 25 years, and editor and publisher of Iron Man magazine and Lifting News magazine and other publications, books and courses. This system has been used and proven by top athletes, lifters and bodybuilders, and the pupil can have full confidence in the effectiveness of this system when properly applied.


Special equipment for the most efficient application of this system can be bought from Body Culture Equipment Co., Alliance, Nebraska, or you may, if you wish, make your own equipment as illustrated. To make this rack you simply drill ¼ inch holes every three inches in two 2x8 planks the proper length to reach solidly from the floor to the ceiling of the building in which they will be set up. Now take a saw and cut out the wood between every other hole, thus leaving a slot of about 3 ½ inches in which to put the bar as shown in the illustration. Anchor these two planks, about 3 feet apart, to the floor and ceiling, as shown, and you are ready to start to work. The use of this wooden rack cannot be as rough as it can be with a metal rack or you will run a chance of breaking out the blocks of wood between the holes. If you wish a stronger rack you can make it of 4x6 pieces. You may wish to drill the holes 4 inches apart for greater movement. Don’t make it more that 4 inches, however.

We also show two other types of racks which you may wish to build or have built: one of wood and illustrated by the late Harry Paschall and which has four uprights made of 4x4 wood with holes drilled through to hold a supporting crossbar on which the weight is loaded. The other is a similar metal rack built by Bob Mitchell some years ago. The latter is rugged and long lasting. These two racks were made for power work but not exactly the Isometronic power work we are about to describe, for Isometronic exercise is an exercise of limited movement.


As stated in the last paragraph, Isometronic Exercise is a limited movement exercise. It is a combination of Isometric Exercises (exercises in which the strength is pitted against an immovable object), and Isotonic Exercise (exercise in which there is both movement of the muscle and of the object being lifted). Strictly speaking, there is no limit to this movement and it operates over the full range of the muscle being worked. Isometronic exercise, on the other hand, operates over only a small part of the full range of possible movement of the muscle and therefore is a combination of Isometric Exercise and Isotonic Exercise, hence the name, Isometronic. Isometronic exercise possesses the good qualities of both types of exercise and hence has proven itself superior to either of the others in all around gains of muscle size developed and strength acquired. Because of the limited movement you may at first find this a little frustrating if you have been using Isotonic exercise with full range of movement permitted, but when you see the results you are obtaining with this system you will be very enthusiastic about it.

We would not suggest that this is a system to completely supplant the Isotonic or the Isometric systems, but that it is a very valuable addition to your training program. You can use it with either of the other types of training with great benefit.


This system is a very rugged training method and it may be easy for some of you to overtrain. You should adjust your frequency to your energy reserves. Some men may be able to thrive on four workouts per week and a few on even five, but the majority will find that three workouts per week will be more than ample. If worked properly you will find that this program gives you one of the most terrific workouts you have ever had, hence its great value. Some men will even find that two workouts per week will be more productive of results.

There are other systems you may wish to use to change the schedule and avoid staleness and monotony. For instance you may wish to use two workouts with this Isometronic system and one workout with the regular Isometric system, or you may wish two workouts with this system and one workout with the regular full movement Isotonic system. Possibly you may wish to use this system for only one workout per week and the other two with either the Isometric system or with the full movement Isotonic system. You can change the program around to suit your desires and needs. Try to stay on one schedule for at least a month at a time, however, if you expect to get results. We suggest that for specialized power and muscle building with this system, you use it exclusively for periods of at least two to three months.

Incidentally, the same power rack you build for this Isometronic system is also suitable for Isometric exercise. In order to have wider range of positions for the Isometric system you should build a platform of 2 inch pieces to put on the floor between the uprights for some of your exercises. Since your slot holes will be several inches apart this will act as a filler piece and give you more positions. You can work the Isometric system with or without the fuller piece as needed. You can also use the filler platform to give greater range for this course of Isometronic exercise if desired.


By its very nature the Isometronic system becomes a set system. You usually will use three sets per exercise but each set will be in a different position. You can, of course, use more than three sets for each exercise by doing more than one set for a position.

Let us illustrate what we mean by position by taking the press for an example. Your first position would be about the lockout position of the arms. You would do one set in this position, then lower the bar to about the height of the forehead and do another set there, then lower it again to shoulder height and do a set there. This is three sets for the press, each done in a different position. Now, if you wanted to specialize in one certain position, for instance a forehead position, you could do another set or so in that position. The number of sets you use depends on your energy reserves and your desires.

Most exercises will normally have these three positions, a beginning position, a midway position and a finish position. This can be reduced to just one position it that is your desire. You can build this program to suit yourself, keeping in mind that you will not make progress if your overwork. See elsewhere in our discussion of specialization on this system.

Repetition: Here again it depends on your desires. If you wish to build power then we suggest you keep the repetitions below 5. Some men will find 3 repetitions will be ample but others will find that for power they will do better with five repetitions per set.

For muscle building you should generally go to 8 to 12 repetitions on this system. Here again some men gain best on low reps. You will have found how you gain best from past training experience. If you cut your repetitions down to fewer than 8 for muscle building, then you would want to use more sets. Quite frequently we find some men who work well and gain well on a bulk program when doing about 6 sets of 6 repetitions. You will find that you will gain well on any system of repetitions but that certain ones will fit your body and temperament best.

Since this is a rather rugged program we suggest that you start out with higher repetitions and lighter weights at first, then adjust your program to your best interests later. This may help avoid pulled muscles at first from using such heavy weights. Later you may increase the poundages and reduce the repetitions.


As stated above we suggest that you start out with lighter weights and higher repetitions. The reason for this is that we wish you to avoid pulled muscles, for in some of the positions you will be able to use enormous poundages and there is no use in pulling a muscle and having this hinder your training.

Therefore, start out with a poundage that will tax your power in about 12 repetitions. We are assuming, of course, that you are a barbell man with 6 months or more of training experience and that you are in fair condition. If you’re a beginner then you ought to start with poundages that will be rather easy for 12 repetitions and gradually add weight until it becomes quite strenuous.

If you’re strictly interested in power then you will want to use poundages that will permit 3 to 5 repetitions. In such exercises as the squat, press and bench press this can reach rather high poundages, as for instance in the quarter squat position many men will go far in excess of 1,000 lbs. Paul Anderson, the strongest man who ever lived, would probably go as high as 5,000 or 6,000 lbs. in this exercise. Of course, the new man may find that very light poundages will tax him until he breaks into this system. The limiting of the movement may seem a little awkward at first, and you may feel a little frustrated by this limit of movement but it is very important.

If you are using the type of power rack where you insert supporting bolts to hold the weight then it is important that you also insert a limiting bolt above the weight so that your movement is limited to 4 inches or less. You will understand the reason for this later in the course.

You will not be able to determine the exact poundages the first workout or so, but you should soon adjust to the poundages that will just barely permit you to do the number of reps desired.

With such high poundages you will find that each repetition is a struggle, from the first to the last, and your feeling after a workout will be different from what you feel with the full movement Isotonic method or from the non-moving Isometric system.


We are not giving a detailed description or illustration of each exercise since there are hundreds of exercises that can be used. Almost any exercise that can be performed with a barbell can be used on this system. The only difference is that you use a rack for the correct position and the movements are limited or restricted. There is no possibility of cheating on movements with this power rack. Every move must be made with pure brute muscle strength.

We have the basic movements which we recommend for every trainee, especially when starting. At a later date you may want to use certain favorites.

Except for reducing programs we do not recommend too many exercises; 10 exercises are enough and fewer are better for most programs. For muscle building programs you may want to go as high as 12 or 15 exercises. Here again your needs, energy reserve and recuperative abilities will determine the number to use.

Here are the recommended exercises for power and bulk building which we suggest you start with:

Two arm press
Upright rowing
Bench press
Bentover rowing
Regular deadlift

with 3 positions for all.

For a general overall bodybuilding program you would want a few more, such as the two arm curl, side raise for deltoids, calf raise, side bend for sides of waist, situp and possible two or three more of your choice for neck, forearms, grip; or for other body parts you might wish additional work. You can also use this system for the overhead pulley weight exercises. This will require a special power rack and pulley weight combination. Or you may prefer to perform your pulley weight exercises as described later in this course under the heading of “Isometronic Exercises Without A Power Rack.”


The procedure in the Isometronic system is opposite of that in the Isometric system. In the Isometric system you usually start at the bottom of the rack and work upward, but on this Isometronic system we start at the top and work down. This is because you usually use lighter poundages overhead than you do overhead than you do in the lower exercises so we start out in the press and work down, and as we go down we add poundages in most exercises until we reach the bench press, deadlift and squat, where we use a great deal more weight.


This is out first exercise, and as stated before we start with the bar loaded up on the lower rack pin in a position just short of the lockout position of the arms. This should allow the bar to move about 3 inches to lockout position of the arms and for the bar to reach the top pin solidly.

Stand under the bar in the correct pressing position and press to the top pin. As you reach the top pin, press very hard against the bar. Put forth the maximum of effort. The first part of this exercise is Isotonic, or movement, while the last part is Isometric, or maximum pressure against an immovable object. Thus you are using a combination of Isotonic and Isometric exercises in one exercise.

You can vary the application of the exercise. By this we mean that by using lighter weights you can make it more Isometric, in that the movement part (Isotonic) will be the easier part while the unmoving part (Isometric) will be the harder part.

You can also, by loading the bar to the maximum you can use, make the movement part of the exercise the harder, so that the exercise is predominantly Isotonic and the finish or last part will be minor since you won’t be able to push much more against the top pin than you did to get the heavy poundage up there.

We do not tell you to use either method exclusively, but urge you to try all systems and find out which you like best and which gives you the best results.

We have given you the first position in the press. Now lower the bar to the second position or about forehead or eyebrow height, and do another set of repetitions here. Now lower the bar to just off the shoulders and do another set here. Use the same procedure of lifting to the top pin, then put on still more pressure against it for each repetition.

As you lower the bar to a new position it would be best to remove the outside plates to lighten the poundage in order to have more control of it as you lower it.

Of course, any hand spacing can be used that you feel is advantageous or necessary in any of these exercises.


This is an excellent exercise for this system for it works the arms and shoulders in a very beneficial manner. It is fine for developing the deltoids of the shoulder, the trapezius, the biceps and muscles of the forearms. It is excellent for bodybuilders and an absolute necessity for lifters.

Bring the bar to the first position of about pectoral height. This is a difficult position but one where most men are weak and so it is needed. Don’t forget that as you pull up to the top pin you must pull hard against this top pin.

Bring the bar down to just below belt height and do another set, the lower to the bottom pins to straight arms’ height and do another set from there. In this position you should soon work up to very heavy poundages. The upright rowing is an exercise that some men find easy to receive pulled muscles from so use some caution in performing it if you are on of these fellows.


The bench press is one of the best bodybuilding and power building exercises and in this system you can learn to use enormous and unbelievable poundages and because of these huge poundages you will soon develop power you never believed possible.

Start the bench press from the high position so that you can just lock out the arms against the top pin with pressure. After you reach the pin put on all the pressure you can. Do this each repetition.

For the bench press you can use a bench of any height or you may lie on the floor and do the upper parts of the press.

Lower the bar to a midway position and do another set, then to the chest and do another sets. This low position will find your weak spot and you may find difficulty using very much weight, but this is the position where you need the work the most.


The regular deadlift is a very important exercise on this power building system. You can use a lot of weight and it will build power in the whole body.

Your first position will be the high position, so that as you finish the lift to the top of the pins you will find you’re standing erect and pulling hard against the top pin. Such great poundages can be used in this exercise that you will find it necessary to use the reverse grip to keep the bar from sliding from the hands. This grip consists of one hand palm-front and the other palm facing back. Some men tie their hands to the bar with straps in order to exert full body power without their hands slipping from the bar. Straps with hooks fastened to them are also used. Anderson used a similar method and other top strongmen have likewise. It goes without saying that this exercise will greatly increase your gripping power, but few men are able to grip enough to prevent their hands from slipping in this position.

Keep the back flat and the head up in this exercise. Now lower the bar to a midway position of the deadlift. Most men find this position rather awkward at first. It is a weak position and it just seems you can’t pull as much as you first think you ought to. The fact that you can’t get up momentum when using the rack makes it more difficult. Continued practice will enable you to exert tremendous power in this position too. You should not have so much trouble with the hands slipping from the bar but you will most likely still need to use the reverse grip.

Now down to the low position of the deadlift. Again this may seem like a weak position, another indication that you need a lot of work in this position. The deadlift gives you quite a heavy workout.


The greatest single exercise in existence – that is the squat. By doing it this Isometronic way you can greatly increase its value. If you had no time to do any other exercise but the squat, you could, by it alone, become an enormously strong man. This was almost the only exercise used Paul Anderson in the first two years of his training and he developed unbelievable power, and built the foundation for his great triumphs or record breaking. Don’t neglect this exercise.

You will start with the high position, or from a position where, by a slight straightening the legs you will bring the bar hard against the top pin. As stated before you may soon be able to use 1,000 lbs. or more in this position.

Now lower the bar so that you are in what we call a half squat (the first position would be termed a quarter squat). You will be surprised at how weak you may feel when you first begin using this position. Keep working at it and you will soon fees strong here and your regular squat poundage will increase as a result.

Lower the bar again until you’re just below parallel squat position; that is, with the tops of the thighs just below the parallel position. This, again, is a position where you feel helpless. Don’t let this discourage you, tho. Some lifters refuse to do this because they don’t think they can accomplish anything in this position. You feel weak here, and that is the reason why you need work here so badly. You will be surprised how strong you begin to get after working in this position for a while. Keep right on working at it and fight the weight. This is where most men fail on their regular squat – in the low position. This is where most lifters are weakest – in the low position.


This exercise is the final one in the basic course of power, bulk and muscle building. It is a very important one for it works the huge muscles across the upper back in a manner that nothing else can. The large trapezius and latissimus muscles as well as the rear part of the deltoid get heavy work from this exercise. It also works the biceps and forearms. The lower back and hamstrings come in for a large share of work too.

Start in the high position with the bar about 4 inches from the chest when you are bent over at right angles to the floor. Now pull the bar up until it almost touches the chest and is tight against the top pin, where you pull very hard against it. It may be a little difficult to work this at first but practice will enable you to do a good job.

Now drop to the middle position for another set, then on down o the bottom position for the final set.

The above workout will be more than ample for the average lifter. As stated before, you can use as many sets as you wish or any number of repetitions as needed for what you wish to accomplish. Read this course over carefully then use your mind to work out your own problems. The information you need is here but you need to use it yourself.


Weightlifters especially will find certain other power exercises a MUST with this system. The support at chest will give them great power for the jerk and press. Loading the rack up to as much weight as you can take at the shoulders and lift off racks with power of the legs will build great sustaining power, particularly when the sustained pressure is applied to the top pin. Weight should be loaded to a poundage that you can just lift the 3 or 4 inches off the pin by bending the knees, by taking the weight in hands at shoulders and then lifting with the legs. So not attempt to lift with the arms, or move the weight off the shoulders.

Another important lift is the support in the split position. Load the weight to a heavy poundage and at a height that you can get under in the low split of the snatch or jerk with arms slightly bent; then while holding this position, lock out the arms. Another exercise in the same position is to start with the arms locked and then raise the weight to the top pin with the power of the legs only. This will give you great sustaining power in the low position of the snatch and jerk.

You can use the same method in the squat style to build extra power.

THE ONE ARM LIFTS AND EXERCISES can also be used within this system, such as the one arm press, the one arm curl, one arm rowing, one arm deadlift, one arm upright rowing, finger lifting and dozens of other similar lifts and exercises.

Almost any exercise that you can do with a barbell can be done within the rack from various positions. You will find that you can use your flat bench and incline bench for many exercises in the rack and by properly positioning a pulley you can do limited movement, cable exercises as well.


The isometronic system allows you to check on the progress you are making because you use weights to train with, thus you can see yourself making progress as you gradually increase the poundages you are using. You cannot do this with the Isometric system since no weights are used. This charting of personal progression is greatly encouraging to a power builder.


Many bodybuilders and lifters will want to use this system for certain specialization. For instance, the lifter may wish to develop power in his legs. For this he may wish to specialize on the squats in different positions, doing a great many sets in low reps in different positions. While specializing thus, he may not care to do any of the other Isometronic exercises so that he can give more time and energy to his specialization. Or he may wish to perfect his arm lock, in which case he will use the press in the high position to train his arms to lock out under heavy poundages, and he can also practice this lockout in the low split or squat positions. Perhaps he will to improve his press at the sticking position which is usually about forehead height. In this instance he will do specialized work in this position.

Thus you can see that this system of power training is almost a necessity for the weight lifter on either the Olympic lifts or the powerlifts.

The bodybuilder may wish to specialize on some body part. He may wish to increase his deltoid development. The curl could be used to the biceps in various positions for either one or both arms.

He can do triceps presses either standing or seated and in the various positions for triceps development. The triceps kickback could be used in various positions with either one or both arms.

Specialized leg and back work can be done in the same way. He would, of course, use several sets of 10 to 12 repetitions when specializing and again he may want to devote most of his energy to this specialized part while doing a minimum of work for the rest of the body.

We would not recommend that this specialized work be done for the whole body, as such an intensive program for the whole body is almost sure to cause you to go stale and your progress will cease or you will actually lose.


If you do not have a power rack and do not wish to buy or make one, then you can still do these exercises without such a rack, tho it might not be quite as easy or convenient.

Shall we take the curl for an example? You may start in the low position. With the bar in the hands and the arms straight, you curl the weight and make sure that you do not move the bar itself over 4 inches, then lower it to the original position, and repeat the curl as many times as needed for the results you expect, whether it be bodybuilding with several sets of 10 to 12 reps or power building with several sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Now take a poundage for the middle position. This will be somewhat lighter. Bring the bar to just below where your forearms are parallel to the floor and then curl the bar 4 inches, which will bring the forearms to just above parallel, then lower to the slightly below parallel position and thus continue the short range curl until you have finished the required number of repetitions.

Now take a poundage suitable for the high position. Start this one from a position about a foot in front of the chin and move the bar about 4 inches or clear to the shoulders if you wish (The latter part of the curl is without much resistance when bringing it completely to the shoulders and so isn’t worth much as a developer). Lower the bar back and continue for the required number of reps.

This would complete the curl with this system. Some men prefer this method for the curl to the use of the rack. Obviously this method requires deep mental concentration to make it effective. It will, when used properly, do a tremendous job of developing the chosen body part.

Holding the bar at the top of the 4 inch movement can also be used.

If you can do several sets in each position, try going through the entire routine above several times. That is, do the three positions then start at the bottom and do all three positions again and repeat this procedure for as many sets as you wish. When finished, you will find that your biceps, or whatever muscle group you are focusing on, will have received a tremendous workout.

It is easy to apply this same system to any other exercise and without the power rack. Just be careful to keep the movements short – about 4 inches.

In the squat you would do the full squat with short movements, but be sure you do not bounce, but use the muscles. This will mean that you will have to do them slowly and methodically. When you are finished and wish to stand erect, your legs will be too tired to straighten up without help. Release one hand from the bar and push against the legs to assist in coming erect. This technique will take some practice, but can be mastered. You will have no such problems in the half and quarter squat positions.

You will probably find it necessary to use lots of sets for efficient bodybuilding with this system. If you wish to use the system without the rack for power gains you will use lower repetitions but many, many sets. In working for power be sure that you don’t cheat too much. It is important with these short movements that you use strict style and do not allow the body to swing or sway or you will remove the strain from the muscle you’re trying to develop.

Along with proper diet, rest and sleep, this gives you the information you need for a successful program of power and muscle building with Isometronic exercise.

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