Abandon all weakness, ye who enter here.

Isometric Training for Muscle Mastery

7 Seconds to A Perfect Body is the isometric exercise program that I’ve been training with, daily, since 2013. I began learning about isometrics in high school, and I understood the true nature of isometric exercises, rather than the myths that are spread in abundance about it.

Without isometric training, I would never have:

 ·         Achieved multiple pushup reps on my thumbs

·         Rolled a frying pan with my bare hands

·         Bent a 60 penny nail with my hands in a Nardelli’s parking lot

·         Bent a St. Croix #2 horseshoe with my hands

·         Learned to dunk a basketball on a regulation hoop

·         Achieved a neck bridge with 305lbs on my neck

305lbs neck bridge as my brother nonchalantly scrolls the Web

And much more in the time that I have. Yet with that comes the understanding that strength is, indeed, more than muscle.

“Hold up, wayment, this article is about muscle mastery, but you’re saying strength is more than muscle?”

Yes I am, because muscle mastery itself is about more than muscle. It’s often said that strength is more mental than it is muscle; when it comes to physical strength, it’s perhaps more apt to say that strength is more nervous than muscle.

The contractions of your muscles, their speed and intensity are controlled by the nervous system. By increasing your muscle control, as I’ve done through isometric training, you can have a greater level of control over your absolute strength.

When your muscles contract, they don’t contract at their full potential for numerous reasons – the main ones being that full strength muscle contractions could potentially damage your bones or dislocate joints. Still, as you train to develop muscle control progressively, your tendons and muscles strengthen so that you can contract your muscles near their absolute strength.

That whole process deals with the nervous system. Of course having muscle helps (the absolute strength of your muscles is limited when you don’t have much muscle), but having control of that muscle is paramount, like the difference between the aesthetics of a bodybuilder and the force output of a powerlifter of the same muscle mass.

Although the bodybuilder may be a figurative tank of muscle, their overall muscle strength will be limited by the strength of their nervous system.

Now, where do isometric exercises fit into strengthening the nervous system, you ask?

Isometrics and Myelination

For the able-bodied trainee, isometric exercises are, essentially, reverse multiple sclerosis. MS is a horrid degenerative autoimmune disease that deteriorates the myelin sheath, which is the fatty, insulating layer of glia (neuron support cells) that prevents signals from leaking out of your neurons as they travel.

When this myelin sheathe is impaired, the muscles weaken and coordination dissipates, resulting in spasms, paralysis, and other chronic ailments.

If impairing the myelin sheathe weakens the muscles and lessens coordination, it only makes sense that myelination will strengthen the muscles and improve coordination, no?

Well Gregory Mitchell, founder of the Mind Development courses that he taught for over 25 years, showed that isometric exercises caused greater myelination of nerves in the body. 

“Isometric exercises work on the principle that greater myelination of the peripheral nerves and many of the nerves in the brain has occurred, permitting a greater speed of conduction of the signals from the brain to the muscles. In addition the muscles themselves become stronger, by a process called Myofibrillar Hypertrophy.” - Gregory Mitchell

This shows that isometric exercises serve not only to build dense, lean muscle in the body, but also to actually strengthen the nerves that control those muscles, leading to a greater level of muscle control as the signal conduction from your mind to your muscles becomes more efficient.

Furthermore, the effect that isometric exercises have on the nervous system is further supported by a correlation between isometric exercises and both simple and complex reaction times.

“Isometric Exercises improve memory and are beneficial for brain health and cognition, especially in young adults, athletes and students with higher levels of conscientiousness and emotional intelligence, who are able to tolerate more stress without a decrease in performance.

My findings are that since Isometrics were introduced into Mind Development they contributed on average a further significant increase in IQ. The correlations between Isometrics and test performance were very high. Simple reaction times decreased on average by 23%, and complex reaction times (a measure of neural efficiency, hence correlating with IQ) decreased by 16%.” - Gregory Mitchell

Isometric exercises can not only be a key into activating 100% of your muscle, but also helping to expand the development of your concentration and reaction times.

And what kind of isometric exercises did Gregory Mitchell use for his students? Short, but intense bodyweight isometrics for 6 sets of 6 seconds per exercise.

Maybe now, the idea that it only takes 7 Seconds to a Perfect Body doesn’t sound so far-fetched, right?

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