Thursday, November 1, 2018

Functional Isometric Contraction System, Part Two - Bob Hoffman (1962)

Thanks to Liam Tweed.
Good friends are few and far between.

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Part One is Here:

True Facts About Functional Isometric Contraction Training

The limit of maximum effort is set by many inhibits or restraints within our body. This is nature's way of preventing injury to the body. Many lifters have the muscular strength to lift much more than they have ever lifted but they have inhibitions within themselves that prevent them from making a maximum effort.

All of us are familiar with unusual feats of strength or speed performed under stress conditions, such as the boy who ran and leaped over a high fence when a bull was chasing him, which he was never able to jump there after. Of the strength the drowning man displays; or the case of the apparently frail mother who lifted a heavy car off her child. She injured her back in the process, which well illustrates nature's need for restraints within the body. Some of this sudden strength is due to the increase of adrenaline in the system induced by the excitement, the fear, the necessity. But, most of it was due to the removal of mental inhibitions to maximum effort. By using the Functional Isometric Contraction system, these inhibitions can be quickly reduced, enabling you to use more of the strength you already have . . . the strength that is already within your body.

How can Functional Isometric Contraction remove these inhibitions? It removes inhibitions by allowing the lifter to exert maximum force in the various lifting positions, for a period of approximately 8 to 12 seconds. By doing this the lifter will get the feel of maximum strain in these positions without the fear of injury. Fear of injury is prevented by a gradual contraction, rather than the sudden maximum contraction that is used in the old method of training. After the lifter has trained by the Functional Isometric Contraction system and gets the feel of the amount of force that he can exert with his muscles in the various lifting positions, he will unconsciously remove many of the mental inhibitions to maximal effort.

5% Gain Per Week, 100% Gain in 20 Weeks

The average man can increase his functional strength 100% in a 20 week period by using the Functional Isometric Contraction system of training. Dr. Mueller has proven this with his research in Germany and Dr. Barnham has reaffirmed this theory with his research at Louisiana State University. Both of these men constructed special measuring devices so that they could keep accurate measurements of the development of strength in the men who were subjects of their experiments. The instrument can accurately measure the amount of force exerted by the subject in a lifting position. Over 175 m;en took part in this experiment and the average gain in strength was 5%. These studies conclusively prove that one hard contraction per day would develop maximum strength.

Experienced lifters cannot expect to continue to gain at the rate of 5% per week. Paul Anderson, who can press over 400 pounds, could not expect to press 800 in 20 weeks, but any man can expect to gain much more than they ever thought possible. Louis Riecke gained 65 pounds in his press in four months and he was considered to be a good lifter when he started using Functional Isometric Contraction. He had repeatedly won the Southern Championship, had won the Junior National Championships, the National YMCA championship and many open meets. A beginning lifter who could press 100 pounds is one who would have a good chance to double his strength in 20 weeks, pressing 200 pounds. The inclusion of Functional Isometric Contraction in his training changed Louis Riecke from a good lifter to one of the world's greatest. Even the already great lifters can expect a steady increase in their lifting ability if they use this Functional Isometric Contraction system of training.

Individual Differences

The Functional Isometric Contraction system of training is a guide for the average lifter. All lifters do not develop in exactly the same way. There are individual differences in the development of functional strength in lifters. The basic principle of positive Isometric Contraction is usable and functional for all lifters, but some small adjustment in the positions of contraction and the number of positions to be used must be made by some lifters.

Although there is a great deal of individual difference between lifters, there are many more similarities among lifters than there are differences. One of the common faults of those who make adjustments in the Functional Isometric Contraction system is to include too many contracting positions. This causes overwork. Remember -- stimulate the muscles for development, but don't approach complete fatigue.

Don't Overwork

Most lifters work too hard. They fatigue themselves beyond recovery between workouts. All of their energy is used in recovering from their workout, rather than developing new strength. Stimulate your muscles for development but don't approach complete fatigue. These facts are the reason we have repeatedly offered the advice not to work on your nerve too often. Yet if you don't make a maximum effort at times, make maximum demands, you can not expect to gain in strength and muscle as you desire. That is why we say that you have to be your own trainer, we can tell you what to do, offer advice and instruction, but only you know how you feel, only you know how much you can stand of hard training without retarding your overall progress.

The chief advantage of Functional Isometric Contraction is that it does not make you tired. Instead of waiting a full day before you can exercise again, you can exercise the following day and continue training day after day. In fact, Functional Isometric Contraction can be practiced on the days between your regular workouts, be they weight lifting workouts or body building workouts. With this system, you should at least double your progress. You must remember, however, that you can do too much Isometric Contraction training. It seems so easy, it does not tire you, that you feel like going on and on, performing exercise after exercise, trying to speed your progress at a still greater rate. So if you do not find yourself continuing to gain as rapidly as you at first did, or as rapidly as you expect, take stock of yourself. Perhaps you have been working too hard in your enthusiasm. Take things a bit easier for a time. Perform less exercises on your regular weight training days. Be sure that you do not have more than one limit or really hard day a week. Use the Medium, Light, and Heavy System.  

 How many times do I haves to tell ya . . . 
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All research seems to prove that one hard contraction a day is enough stimulus to develop the muscle to its maximum. Any work beyond this tends to hinder development rather than help development. 

Other research experts in this area, experts in this area, such as the late Dr. C.H. McCloy, of the State University of Iowa, believed that one maximum contraction would produce better development than numerous partial contractions. Dr. John Ziegler of Olney, Md., who has perhaps worked longer and done more research than any other . . .

"Isometrics, The Isotron, and Dr. John Ziegler" (2017) by Bill March, here: 
Thanks also to Jan Dellinger for the article above.

. . . Dr. Drury of LSU, Bob Hoffman, Alvin Roy and Louie Riecke all agree that one maximum effort, one maximum contraction in each position is the best way.

One of the hardest theories of Functional Isometric Contraction for most lifters to accept is that the principle of one contraction per day in each position is enough of a workout. Most lifters, after they train with the Functional Isometric Contraction system for a few weeks and begin to feel their new power, become so anxious for more power that they will increase their workouts. The only way to increase the workout should be to develop the ability to put forth more effort in each contractional position. Progress is measured in direct proportion to the lifter's ability to put forth a supreme effort in each of the exercises.

Many lifters who increase their workouts (that is, increase the number of movements) after three or four weeks of Functional Isometric Contraction training find that they have stopped gaining in functional strength. That is the time to reduce the program, as far as number of movements are concerned. Don't decrease the supreme effort in each exercise. Instead of doing the three three's at this point, you may have to reduce the number of exercises to two of each. But be sure that you use a system of rotation, practicing a different two on each training day, as it is not wise to omit one of the worthy three times three permanently.

So DON'T OVERWORK. Follow the principle of work set up in the Functional Isometric Contraction System of Training.


Nature's way of developing strength in animals is to have the animal stretch hard and hold this position for a few seconds. Watch your dog or cat. Several times during the day it will stretch and make itself as long as possible. This develops its extensor muscles. Then at another time, the dog or cat will hump its back and hold this position for several seconds. This develops its flexor muscles. You will never se and animal go through a long drawn out training period.

The next time you have an opportunity, look at the animals in the zoo, the animals of the cat tribe. They pace back and forth. They occasionally jump up on the little platform in their cages, and they stretch. That is all they do to remain in magnificent physical condition. Even animals born in captivity, who have never been out of their cages, are in wonderful physical condition. This well illustrates that it does not take too much to just keep in condition.

This exercise, the Cat Stretch, is one of the six exercises in the world famous Bob Hoffman Daily Dozen. It is the world's oldest human exercise and has been practiced for thousands of years in the Orient.

Worth noting here that this entire book, "Functional Isometric Contraction" is available here

Okay then.       



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