Archive for the ‘Bison Strong’ Category
Thursday, July 8th, 2010
Introduction to Grip Strength Training
Grip strength is very important not only in sports but also in our daily activities. Starting from carrying grocery bags from the store and ending with “farmer walks”, grip strength is truly essential in anything we do that involved arms, forearms, and wrists. In this article we will be talking about the true and advanced forearm and grip strength training. This type of grip training is essential in wrist-intense activities and life-saving occupations; this is the type of the solid steel bending, horse shoe tearing, and Samson -like crushing grip! After reading this article, you will be able to understand different types of grips, types of grip training, and as well as best grip strength training methods personally for you.
The are multiple types of grips possible, and they vary in angles, directions, levels, and wrist positions, however, to simplify the infinite world of hand-grip variations they were divided into three categories: pinch, crush, and support grips.
The crush grip is what is most commonly thought of as “grip”. It involves a handshake-type grip, where the object being gripped rests firmly against the palm and all fingers. A strong crush grip is useful in bone-crushing handshakes or for breaking objects with pressure.
In a pinch grip, the fingers are on one side of an object, and the thumb is on the other. Typically, an object lifted in a pinch grip does not touch the palm. This is generally considered a weaker grip position. The pinch grip is used when grabbing something like a weight plate or lifting a sheet of plywood by the top edge.
A support grip typically involves holding something, such as the handle of a bucket, for a long time. This type of strength is epitomized by the “Farmer’s walk”, where the bucket is filled with sand or water, and carried over a long distance. A great deal of muscular endurance is necessary to have a good carrying grip.
As you can now see, it is important to understand the difference among the grip types, as it defines the nature of your workouts. In fact at this point I would like to separate the pinch and crush from the support type of grip. The pinch and crush grips are likely to associated with a flexing and squeezing movements, whether you are squeezing your fingers for the pinch grip, or flexing your whole hand for the crush grip. The support grip on the other end is the type of a grip focusing on endurance, and is a member of isometric, including elements of “negatives”, family. This is where your fingers, no matter the width, angle, or position of the grip, are undergoing a maximum level of pressure targeted in a given direction for an extended period of time.
This separation in understanding of pinch and crush, from the support grips, takes us to the separation of all grips into two training categories, just like all other strength training exercises: dynamic and static training.
Dynamic and Isometric Grip Strength Training
Dynamic grip training can be defined as a simple squeeze, targeted on reaching the maximum level of grip intensity in a short period of time. Such grip types are very quick, yet very powerful, for instance, consider the finger crush exercise with Bison-1. You are focusing on a single movement every repetition, repetitions are short in time, and the focus lays on bursts of powerful finger flexing. The maximum intensity levels are ususally lower with dynamic grip training out of the two categories. As in any exercise focusing on quick few-second repetitive flexes – there will be misfires! Just like in any type of weight lifting, some repetitions are more powerful than the others This lack of constant maximum intensity it reduces the overall average effect from the strength training point of view. Due to the nature of dynamic training, athletes are not able to commit to each repetition to the fullest, doing so, will require more time between repetitions, which is dangerous in power, strength, or weight-loss training.
Dynamic grip training, just as any type of dynamic training, focuses more on muscle growth. As we now know from the Isometric Training Exercises Exposed article, big muscles do not mean anything without strong tendons (the second major functional type of grip covers this issue).
There are two phases to the dynamic grip:
- Squeeze – a short powerful burst of energy targeted on a flexing motion of fingers for a short period of time, while trying to reach the maximum level of intensity
- Release – returning into the initial position by rapid decrease in the grip intensity and even a full release.
Isometric grip. Please read the Isometric Training Exercises Exposed article on isometric training to understand the idea and real meaning of such exercises. Isometric grip strength focuses on a continuous static squeeze of a hard object for an extended period of time. It is exactly during these extended squeezes and holds possible to focus and reach the maximum intensity every time. Since isometric grip training does not have quick multiple repetitions, in fact each set consists of a single extended repetition. Not only athletes have more time between reps/sets to focus on the exercise, but also engage their full strength over a period of a few seconds, as sometimes it takes a few seconds to fully engage all the muscles.
There are three parts to an isometric rep/set:
- Squeeze – flexing and moving your fingers while approaching the maximum intensity squeeze.
- Hold – once the maximum level of intensity is reached, an athlete retains the maximum intensity hold for a few seconds
- Release – as it is impossible to continue a hold at the maximum amount of intensity for a long period of time, after a few seconds the hold starts loosing its strength, causing a start of the release cycle.
Combination Grip Training
Making sure you comprehend the material presented above is essential to your grip strength training. At this point we can now further categorize the crush, pinch, and support types of grips. Pinch and crush types of grip are primarily dynamic, as they focus on short “pumping” squeezes, while support grip falls into the isometric training category. Wait a minute, what if you hold a dumbbell with your pinch grip, isn’t that static? Indeed, that is exactly what connects the pinch and crush grips to the support grip – continuous hold. If after reaching a maximum level of intensity, or close, the grip continues to hold, it becomes a support grip, no matter what it started off as! Remember the definition of the support grip – a grip used for a continuous hold, where the grip strength is measured in time.
The golden combination!
By understanding the difference between the dynamic and static (isotonic and isometric) grip training, and their relation to the pinch, crush, and support grips, we can now choose what each athlete needs to focus on in his or her grip workouts. Here is the question you need to ask yourself:
What is more important to me: a quick power-squeeze or a continuous strong hold?
By answering this question you will only determine what types of exercises you will need to focus on more. Remember choosing a squeeze or a hold does not completely eliminate training one or the other. It is vital to understand that both static and dynamic exercises must always go together for true strength training, however, depending on the final purpose of the training course on must have more focus over the other.
Now that we have a choice of primary and secondary grip training type focus chosen, let’s take a look at multiple grip training exercises in order to choose what best fits our purpose.
Grip Training Exercises
Grip training - Bison-1
The huge advantage of Bison-1 in wrist and grip strength training is that it combines the isometric and isotonic exercises. Bison-1 offers a wide variety of dynamic and isometric grip strength workouts through its freedom of wrist movement. Over 100,000 different exercises are offered by the leader in the forearm and wrist strength training, while the number of muscles engaged in a single exercise goes up to 30.
In addition to combining the dynamics with isometric, Bison-1 offers a wide range of precise load adjustment, different exercise positions, multi-directional pressure, multiple planes of exercise execution, unidirectional exercising (gets rid of the need to return to the initial position to repeat the exercise, thus, reducing wasted energy), and lack of motion momentum (spreading the load evenly along the full range of motion). It’s portability makes it irreplaceable. Read more about how Bison-1 works in our Bison-1 Explained article.
Used for: extensive muscle and tendon strengthening, pinch, crush, and support training, great for functional pinch, crush, and support grip training.
Captains of Crush (or their imitations like heavy grips, pro handgrips…etc.)
This handy equipment is targeted on dynamic grip training. The grippers do not have resistance adjustment on them, but you can buy different strength-level pairs. Although it is possible to do static holds on these grippers, they are mainly used for “pumping” your grip. The advantages include: very portable; disadvantages: you must buy a new pair every time you want to move up (which will add up), the pressure is only bidirectional (linear pressure created by the gripper’s handles), spring momentum (uneven distribution of load during the squeeze and release), need for a return-release before repeating the pump (waste of energy causing premature wrist fatigue).
Used for: muscle strengthening, possibility of tendon work by isometric holds, crush and support training, great for functional crushing grip strength
Rubber Squeeze Rings, Grip Dynamometer and other squeeze-targeted equipment.
All these gadgets focus on the dynamic grip pumping, and just like with the Captains of Crush they can be used for isometric holds. Although the small size offers a convenience of training environment, there are many disadvantages such as lack of load adjustment, spring action (whether produced literally by a spring or a spring effect of rubber or bending metal). Just like with the Captains of Crush, you must buy new ones in order to increase the load. In addition, almost none of these offer a full range of grip squeeze.
Used for: muscle strengthening, possibility of tendon work by isometric holds, also possibility of pinch, crush, and support training, de[ending on the design.
This is probably the simplest way to train your support grip. Grab a barbell or a dumbbell and hold it at the top of the deadlift. The most important part is to load up enough weight to be able to hold it only for several seconds. Although it is a very simple exercise to execute with load adjustment, it can only be performed at a gym, it is very importable, the ability to hold an enormously large amount of weight depends on the strength of the rest of the body. If you have back or shoulder problems – forget about it.
Used for: tendon strengthening with great focus on support grip
Very simple – lift up the Power Hold and start walking. Everything that goes for the Power Hold goes for the Farmer Walks; however, the later is a little more effective. Granted by walking you are also loading your lower body, however, besides that you are adding “drops” of additional pressure on your support grip with every step. As a result you are getting an isometric hold with minor dynamic pumps, and that is the key for this exercise's efficiency. As with the Power Holds, Farmer Walks have a disadvantage of portability and the requirement of the rest of the upper and lower body strength.
Used for: extensive tendon strengthening with focus on support grip, great for functional support grip training
Pinch Plate Grips
Just as the name suggests this exercise is targeted on pinch grip training through static pinch holds. Additional angles and pressure can be added by trying different planes and wrist positions of holding the plates. The idea is to simply to hold two plates together between your thumb and the other four fingers for as long as possible (usually several seconds). Try alternating static holds with slight wrist turns a lifts to add multiple pressure direction angles.
The huge advantage of this exercise is that it is one of the very few exercises that are meant strictly for pinch grip training. The disadvantages come in having or trying to find the plates of the right weight along with unidirectional pressure, and lack of multi-plane and position exercises due to the amount of weight and other muscle exhaustion before fully engaging the fingers. Portability is also not an option with these exercises.
Note: there are very many variations to this exercise that can be performed virtually anywhere; for instance, table top isometric pinches, closed shaker squeezes…etc.
Used for: static pinch grip training, great for pinch endurance
Grip training - Bar Hangs
This is probably the easiest grip strength training exercise, but we have to keep in mind the easier something gets the less effective it becomes. The idea is to simply hang on the bar for as long as possible. The problem comes in when your grip gets stronger, which causes the strength training exercises turn into an endurance training. Over time you will find yourself simply exhausting your other upper body muscles by hanging on the bar for too long. An easy fix for that is to add some weight to your body, by using a “dip or pullup belt” with some plates. Doing this will tie the exercise to the gym environment only.
The exercise is great for beginner grip strength training with a simplicity and flexibility of the training environment; disadvantages include lack of body weight for advanced strength training, unidirectional pressure direction, and lack of portability, based on gravity.
Used for: isometric support grip training
Dumbbell or Barbell Finger Curls
It is what it sounds – simply curl a dumbbell with one hand or barbell with two. This is another one of the pump-family exercises targeted on dynamic strength training. This is bidirectional exercise only, and it is impossible to perform it in different angles and planes due to the large amount of weight curled. Just as any pump exercise it has a disadvantage of a need to return to the initial position to repeat the pump. The advantages include ease of execution and strict focus on the crush grip; disadvantages: lack of portability (you will not likely to carry a dumbbell around with you), lack of load adjustment causes a problem of finding the right dumbbell or barbell weight as they mostly come in 2.5-5lbs increments.
Used for: dynamic crush grip strength training with possibility of pinch grip training integration.
Towel Holds, Rope Pulls…etc.
Grip training - towel pullups.
This category includes anything you can attach to a dumbbell, barbell, pullup bar, machine…etc to use for a sliding/puling grip vs. a handle. For instance throwing a towel around the pullup bar and doing pull-ups, tying a rope to a dumbbell and lifting it off of the ground…etc. All these exercises are using isometric grip training, where the strength of the grip allows you to hold on to the extension of choice for as long as possible or for a given number of exercise repetitions. Note, that you can also combine this with Power Holds, Farmer Walks, and Bar Hangs listed above.
The advantage of this exercise is that it does not require any equipment to be purchased, everyone has to have at least a towel they can use to throw over a tree branch, a stair of the stairwell, or tie it to a heavy weight, plus you can combine this type of grip strength training with almost any other type of resistance training or weight lifting at the gym! The disadvantage is that the pressure direction is somewhat offset by the pulling force; the planes, direction of pull, and angles of pull bare the same limitations as any other heavy weight lifting exercise. Otherwise, this could be a great variation of your existing workout!
Used for: isometric training of the grip, great for functional support grip strength training.
Finger-Stand Pushups or Power Wheel Finger Arm Walks (or similar exercises)
Grip training - Finger Pushup
Both of these exercises are very easy to perform and dramatically increase your finger strength. The Finger-Stand Pushups do not require any additional equipment, and entail doing pushups while standing on your fingers vs. the classic open palm. The power wheel walks are performed in a similar manner, by arm-walking on your fingers. Both of these exercises are excellent examples of a isometric grip training. The advantages are that they can be performed virtually in any environment and do not require any additional equipment, especially if you take out the power wheel and simply walk your feet. The disadvantages, of course, include lack of resistance adjustment (you can try putting a plate on your back for the pushups, it’s however hard to keep it there during the arm walks), and unidirectional pressure on fingers.
Used for: isometric training, great for functional pinch grip training.
Note: with all exercises involving holding on to something, try increasing the size of whatever you are holding on to. If it is a handle, put some tape on it, or a piece of foam/rubber pipe over it, if its a ball wrap it into something, use two towels instead of one for each hand…etc. This will give additional load on your fingers from different angles.
Grip Dynamic to Static Exercise Ratio
Now that you know whether you need to focus more on isotonic or isometric training, you can pick out the exercises that best suit your training purpose, environment, and budget. The rule of thumb is to keep a 3:1 ratio, for instance, if you concluded that isometrics fit your training purpose best, you should do three static exercises per each dynamic one, or vice versa. Also remember the muscle confusion strategy (more on Muscle Confusion), and change the exercises, while keeping the ratio intact.
Also remember to adjust your dynamics to statics ratio, as 3:1 is a generic ratio that is somewhat of an average; if you are striving for best results, feel free to experiment and see what works best for you personally, as we are all different.
Conclusion on Grip Strength Training
At this point you should be set to go with the grip strength training schedule that you put together for yourself and by yourself! Keep adjusting and changing it, as you progress, but keep one thing in mind – dynamics always have to go along with statics to get the best results in any type of strength training!
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Friday, June 11th, 2010
Isometrics, isometric training, static exercises, – these words are used more and more frequently nowadays, however, very few people truly know the real facts about such types of training. Due to the lack of real understanding of not only the theory of isometric training, but also the proper way implementing isometrics, the strategy drove many athletes away. Currently it is only used in yoga and pilates. If you start researching the topic on the Internet, you will, unfortunately, not find much useful information about the isometric exercises. All you will find is the definition of isometrics, and a general idea about the exercises, if that.
In many articles writers seem to mislead readers due to their own misunderstanding of the concept. Always being a huge fan of combining static and dynamic strength training, I spent a lot of time researching the subject and translated some material from Russian in order to shed some light on isometric training. Therefore here is the isometric training exposed!
History of Isometric Training – Alexander Zass
Alexander Zass. Samson's System and Methods
So many articles claim different ways of development of isometric training, such as being brought from India to Tibet, or ancient China, or Medieval Europe …etc. The truth is that elements of isometric training have always been used in combination with dynamic exercises even over a thousand years ago. Asking where isometric training came from is like asking who invented swords, or bows. Isometric training was not defined as such until the late nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. The true father of isometric training was Alexander Ivanovich Zass, 1888-1962 (The Great Samson), a Russian strongman of Polish origin that was a member of a Russian Circus group. “I do not believe in large muscles, if there is no real strength of tendons!”, – proclaimed Alexander. He was and still is the strongest man the world has ever known! Zass was born in Vilna, Poland in 1888, but lived most of his early years in Russia and after 1924 in Britain. He lifted a 500 pound girder with his teeth, his was known for catching cannon balls (200lbs steel cannon balls were caught by Zass standing 8 meters away from the shooting cannon), catching a person shot out a specifically constructed “human cannon”, carrying a horse on his shoulders, carrying a piano with a pianist and a dancer on it, doing back flips with 54.1lbs in his hands, doing 200 pushups in 4 minutes and finally tearing chains with his fingers.
During the World War I, Alexander was captured by Austrian troops three times, and three times escaped (at least once by pulling the prison cell door steel bars out). After the third break out, Alexander was able to escape Austria and moved to England, where he lived the rest of his life.
The most amazing thing about Alexander was his body size: height – 5’ 6-7”, weight – no more than 176lbs, chest measured 47in and biceps 16.1 inches. Alexander said he had to increase the size of the biceps from 15 inches, as the public liked to see big muscles; however, he always used to say – “big biceps do not stand for strong arms, as big stomach does not stand for good digesting system”. This is not one of Ripley’s Believe it or Not history tricks, go ahead and research Alexander Zass, see what other of his tricks I missed.
The amazing strength of the Great Samson reached the United States, where athletes started adopting Alexander’s training methods, including falsely claimed to be a father of such Charles Atlas. It is only due to such training Alexander was able to reach such levels of physical strength. Zass was not a born superman; he stated that the sources of his strength were “strong tendons, will power, and mastering muscle control”. So what is the secret behind the isometric training? What does it have to do with tendon strength? …and why does it allow developing such astonishing levels of physical strength?
Isometric Training Defined
- Isometric training without equipment
Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (compared to concentric or eccentric contractions, called dynamic/isotonic movements). Isometrics are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion. The joint and muscle are either worked against an immovable force (overcoming isometric) or are held in a static position while opposed by resistance (yielding isometric). Iso – same, metric – distance.
Forms of Isometric Training
The types of isometrics we utilize are isometric holds, isometric presses, isometric contrasts, oscillatory isometrics, and impact absorption isometrics. Below is a brief overview of each.
Isometric Hold: An isometric hold is a static exercise in which an athlete is required to hold a particular position with or without resistance for a required period of time. The athlete is trying to disallow any movement, while trying to recruit the correct muscle fibers to perform this movement. This type of isometric is used to educate the body to properly recruit and stabilize the kinetic chain.
Isometric Press: An isometric press is a static exercise in which the athlete pushes or pulls against an immovable object for a required time. The athlete is trying to generate as much force as possible, trying to actually move the immovable object. This method of isometric teaches the CNS (central nervous system) to recruit more muscle fibers to perform a movement, so when the similar movement is performed dynamically, these “extra” muscle fibers will be readily activated.
Isometric Contrast: By putting the muscles in the least mechanically advantageous position (stretched position) and requiring those muscles to fire maximally from this position, an athlete is asking his CNS to work overtime. As the CNS allow the recruitment of more muscle fibers to perform this movement, the force being generated is increased. Once the athlete stops the isometric exercise they will then perform a power movement for low repetitions with minimal rest. The theory behind the contrast is based on the fact that the athlete will readily activate more muscle fibers to perform the ballistic movement, when preceded by an isometric exercise.
Oscillatory Isometrics: Immediately following an isometric exercise (release all tension), the athlete will perform a single or series of powerful micro-contractions in the same mechanical position as the isometric contraction was performed. Basically all tension will be released from the isometric exercise and the dynamic form of the exercise will be performed with minimal range of motion occurring.
Impact Absorption Isometrics: A Form of isometric in which an athlete will absorb a force or impact and immediately perform an isometric contraction for a required time. Upon properly absorbing the impact, the athlete will minimize any change in the joint angle and hold this position.
Advantages of Isometric Training
- A single workout does not usually exceed 15 minutes of your time
- No special equipment needed
- Can be performed virtually anywhere and anytime
- Isometric exercises are the best way to train tendon strength, the true human strength
- Variety of isometric exercises allows you to train for certain activities
- Anyone can perform isometric exercises of some sort, therefore, such trainings are used starting with injury rehabilitation all the way to special forces and strongman competition preparations
- There are isometric exercises for any part of a human body
- The energy is only spent on tension increase without being wasted on the motion causing fatigue, therefore, making it possible to reach maximum levels of strength
- Isometrics increase flexibility
- Isometrics decrease injuries
Disadvantages of Isometric Training
- Danger of serious injury, and blood pressure problems, if implemented incorrectly
- Takes time to learn how to properly implement the techniques
- Isometrics are not a brainless and dumb push or pull of a static object, your mindset is very important. It takes time to learn to properly control your body, muscles, and breathing.
Concept of Isometric Training
Alexande Zass - Human Bridge
As I have mentioned before, many people, athletes, and writers fail to completely understand the meaning of isometric training. Isometrics are targeted on developing tendon strength, which is very hard to understand at first, as we are all fed by the pictures of bodybuilders, giving us an illusion of strength. Just as Zass used to say “big muscles without strong tendons are just that and is an illusion of strength”. Let’s break down the concept of isometric s to better understand its function, you must forget the illusion of “big muscles = strength” and simply follow this logic of isometrics:
- Tendons are what attaches muscles to the bones and makes them move during muscle contractions or extensions
- The way muscles grow is they create new muscle tissue, not by thickening the existing ones
- In order to fully engage the new bigger muscle we created by working out, we need to grow tendons, since tendons must attach itself to the new muscle tissue and connect it to the bone
- Muscles grow through their tear, by healing and increasing the size as the result, however, tendons grow through continuous tension
- Muscle tissue is a lot weaker than tendons, thus takes less time and pressure to tear.
- Tendons take more time to grow than muscles
- Dynamic/isotonic training is targeted on implementing multiple sets of repetitions; this type of training mostly tears muscles, as the tension in such exercises is not enough to train tendons
- Tendons need a continuous type of tension in training to grow
- Isometric training provides continuous type of tension to the muscles and tendons without their contraction at an angle and level chosen by the athlete, therefore, training tendons more
Here we go, this is the logic that many athletes seem to not know or ignore. Let’s take pro bodybuilders – mean looking machines with veins popping out. Yes they have a lot of muscle tissue; however, they do not have large and strong enough tendons to help engage all of that power and connect it to the bone, which only creates an illusion of strength. Bodybuilders focus on muscle isolation and sometimes linear strength; therefore, their exercises completely ignore true functional strength with tendon strengthening exercises. Just imagine how much strength bodybuilders would have, if they also implemented isometrics to support all that muscle! But it is called bodybuilding, not bodystrengthening…
Is isometric training the answer to all the strength training questions?
Another biggest misconception floating around the Internet is that writers and athletes seem to think that isometrics on their own should be able to fulfill all their strength training needs. As I have mentioned before, isometrics mostly work tendon strength; therefore, increasing their size (it also tears muscle, yet not as much as the isotonic exercises). It is still muscles that make things move; it is still bones that are able to hold large amounts of weight and pressure; it is still our cardiovascular system that supplies oxygen to our muscles; and yes it is still our mind that makes it all happen.
Here is a breakdown of isometric training, how Alexander Zass saw it:
- Strong will power
- Ability to control your muscles
- Tendon strength
- Breathing right
Strength training must be a part of any athlete’s workout =>there is no true strength without tendon strength =>isometrics must be a part of every athlete’s workout.
Isometrics Myth 1: Isometric training does not help in functional strength training.
This is a misconception born by the strictly muscle focused perspective. Yes, from such angle it seems as we are training only a certain part of the muscle from a certain angle (the dynamic perspective). As functional strength training focuses on movement and completion of certain types of activities, training your muscle does seem insufficient from only one position. If you read the material above, you can now see where this takes a wrong turn – isometrics are mainly focused on tendon strengthening and growth, not so much of a muscle; therefore, isometrics are essential to functional strength training!
Isometrics Myth 2: You will lose weight by doing isometrics.
With weight loss being the main New Year’s resolution for Americans in 2010, this rumor spread like a virus. You lose weight by burning more calories and eating right, plus flushing out dead cells through the cardiovascular exercises. While isometrics will make you stronger, they are not the best exercises for calorie burning. Isometrics do help indirectly by increasing strength, therefore, allowing you to intensify your dynamic workouts; however, saying that isometric training directly impacts weight loss is unfair and deceptive.
How to Properly Train Isometrics
Alexander Zass carrying a young horse showing kids his strength at a lake.
There are infinite types of isometric exercises; therefore, you should choose whatever is important for you specifically. The best thing is that isometric training does not require purchasing expensive equipment; in fact you can implement isometric training without any equipment in the right setting. Alexander Zass only used a chain for almost all of his isometric exercises. Due to a large number of available isometric exercises, I will not waste your reading time by giving you samples, as Google is a click away, but rather would like to stress the importance of the following rules and directions of proper isometric training. I call them the 20 Golden Rules of Isometric Training:
- Your whole body is your main subject not particular muscles; respect it and listen to it.
- Always start implementing isometric exercises on a breath in, not out!
- Create a flexible wave of power, with a smooth natural entrance, leaving stress and goals out of you mind (do not focus on breaking the chain, once you learn the isometrics and train properly for long enough – it will break when it’s time to break), while focusing on the process and the volume of the body power.
- Breathe steadily and calmly. If breathing becomes deeper or more frequent, your heart will start rushing, breaking the power wave – stop immediately. Rest, calm down, repeat. Try to feel trough the exercise.
- The power wave must involve the whole body, only this way you will be able to strengthen the muscle-tendon-bone relationship.
- Always stretch your muscles thoroughly before training, using static and dynamic stretching to avoid serious muscle and joint injuries
- Start exercise with zero amount of strength and start slowly and steadily increasing it.
- Do not hurry, let the overall exercise and reaching the level of maximum strength appear naturally, start with 2-5 second exercises and increase the time over time.
- Listen to your body during the whole process, feel the flow of power and strength, feel the release, listen to the recovery with a feeling of uncertainty followed by the new inflow of strength. Only this way one learns to have full control of the muscles.
- Implement exercises properly the first time, as statistically it takes roughly ten times longer to change a habit then to get it. Get used to doing exercises properly the first time; for instance, on squads, you must feel it in your quads more than anywhere, otherwise, you have a problem.
- Use natural biomechanical exercises and positions, do not try to twist your joints the way they are not meant to be twisted.
- Properly use muscle imbalances, teach the CNS to recruit proper muscles, increase strength and power
- Isometric hold time range should be less than 2-3 minutes
- Isometric press time range should be less than 9 seconds
- Impact Absorption Isometrics can be held for up to 5 seconds
- As an athlete, use isometrics as a supplement to training, as sport is dynamic and thus your training needs to be dynamic as well
- If you feel sharp pain in your muscles or joints, stop immediately, rest more than usual, stretch, repeat the exercise with low pressure; feel what is causing the pain. If pain continues, stop and give it a day or a few to heal, only then try again (or pay for negligence later). If pains persist, consult your physician.
- Prepare yourself mentally; imagine a continuous movement, whatever it may be. Chains and walls only exist physically, not mentally.
- Only set time limits on your sets, not rests. Allow your muscles to recover from the previous exercise, but do not slack off between sets. Listen to your body, feel your muscles, use only enough time for them to recover according to your personal assessment, not more no less. Every person is different.
- Once a week implement a checkpoint. Grab a chain or a stick and try to stretch it with hand down, with about 95% of intensity for around 8-9 seconds, then drop it and relax. Listen to your body, feel your arms rise a little in front of you or to the sides. They will then start slowly lowering down. The length of time of your arms staying up is defined as an amount of “tonic activity”. You should notice an increase of tonic activity every week, if you do not, you must be doing isometrics improperly.
This information should give you a good start in the right direction with isometrics. Now you know what isometric training is really all about and what its true purpose is. Go ahead and look up Alexander Zass and his chain training techniques if you are an athlete, join a yoga class, or simply find some exercises you can do in your own personal setting. No matter if you are a fighter, wrestler, firefighter, police officer, strongman, or a housewife; we can all benefit from isometric training in one way or another!
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Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Forearm strength in Jiu-Jitsu is essential! Anyone who practices Jiu-Jitsu, whether it is Japanese or Brazilian, knows that a lot depends on the ability to hold on to the opponents’ Gi, hold opponents limbs, and especially that last extra push to make the opponent submit. Jiu-Jitsu started back in feudal days of Japan, under the guidance of Samurai. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu revolved around breaking limbs, hard throws, and chokes, and explosive attacks using pressure points. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was originated later by the Grandmaster Helio Gracie, which eventually branched out, and became known worldwide as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. In fact Generic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu are very much different; Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was originally focused on techniques to help physically weaker people win in a combat against the stronger opponents, and carried such focus into the century. One of the Gracie Philosophy teachings is using as less energy as possible to win the fight, but when the energy is used, it must be fast, powerful and explosive, requiring a lot of wrist, grip, arm strength, and flexibility.
Forearm and Wrist Strengthening in Jiu-Jitsu
Jiu-Jitsu, as other types of grappling, is focused on gripping and keeping a hold of clothing, head, limbs, and torso. Jiu-Jitsu focuses on the wrists, elbows and shoulders in its locking techniques based on bio-mechanical leverage. It is very challenging to strengthen your joints, however, it is possible. Many grappling professionals understand that in order to strengthen arms, forearms, wrists, and fingers, one must not only work on the functional strength and deeper, often neglected by regular workouts muscles, but also focus on the tendon strength. Tendon flexibility and strength play key roles in the arm strength development for grappling. So what are the advantages of having strong and flexible tendons, along with overall strong arms, forearms, and wrists in Jiu-Jitsu? Now just so set things clear, I am not talking about massive forearm or arm bodybuilder-style muscles; this is more of the functional, deeper muscle strength. There are plenty of small forearm people that can snap arms of the much bigger guys. Here is a list of advantages of having strong and flexible fingers, wrists, forearms, and arms:
- Stronger grip lets getting a better hold of opponent’s clothing, limbs, head, and torso in general.
- Strength and endurance training of forearms and wrists allows a longer hold and powerful explosive moves.
- Flexible muscles and tendons allow for more explosive flexing during throws, submissions, and escapes.
- Stronger tendons allow for higher tolerance during submissions, higher chances of escaping a submission, as well as increase the overall forearm and arm muscle endurance during the combat
- Flexible fingers, wrists, and forearms allow easier escapes from holds and submissions
- Stronger tendons support muscle endurance, which is essential during holds and hard submissions
- Strong forearms and wrists give a more powerful last push during long submissions
- Stronger and more flexible muscles and tendons have a much less change of injury during the conbat
So what exercises and forearm equipment will not only help increasing the muscle strength, yet also endurance, and flexibility along with their tendons?
Forearms Muscle and Tendon Endurance and Strength Training
Endurance and strength training require completely different exercises compared to training for mass and definition. By definition, maximum strength is the greatest amount of force that targeted towards an object, and is usually measured in pounds per square inch. On the other hand, endurance, is measured by the amount of time, that same maximum strength can be applied for. The exercises targeting endurance focus on either a large number of repetitions, while exhausting the targeted muscles, or opposite, what is better known as isometric training (proven to be more efficient), focusing on continuous application of the maximum amount of force against a static (not moving) object. Strength can also be trained by utilizing isometric techniques, as well as focusing on more explosive, large number of sets with fewer repetitions. The exhaustive type of endurance training is very good for tendon strength training, where a better effect is reached when a maximum amount of force is used in each repetition.
Forearm Muscle and Tendon Flexibility Training.
This type of training is frequently missed by Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, while it is essential for increasing muscle strength. It has been proven that more flexible muscles have a faster and more explosive flexing ability, which is exactly what is needed for throws, and quick submissions.
Training for Forearm Strength, Endurance, and Flexibility
The easiest and cheapest form of strength training is isometric exercising. There are plenty of static objects around as: starting with pushing against walls, pushing and pulling on trees, putting a lot more weight on barbells and dumbbells to the point of not being able to perform a single rep, but simply trying to push or pull on it, and ending with tying ropes to a static object and simulate throws. The cost advantage in this case is however overweighed by the huge disadvantage of almost inability to work deeper, and weaker muscles, as well as working all muscles from different angles. The biggest problem with isometric exercises is that athletes tend to start using their stronger muscles more, as it makes them feel more powerful during the exercises, while it is the more awkward and uncomfortable workouts that do the trick.
The easiest and most basic way to work on muscle and tendon flexibility is giving them a good stretch on regular basis, be careful, as you may end up tearing tendons and muscles, if too much force is applied during static stretching. Dynamic stretching preferred for increasing flexibility of both forearm muscles and tendons. The cheapest tools can be found at any hardware store, long wooden and metal poles will do the trick and work similar to the Indian Clubs. Swinging the poles and clubs using your wrist only, or combined with elbow and shoulder motion with in a wide amplitude has a increased effect of dynamic stretching. Such workouts also work for tendon strength. The biggest disadvantage of such trainings is that it is almost impossible to control the amount of weight and resistance with Indian Clubs and other alike poles.
Bison-1 in Jiu-Jitsu Training
Dmitriy Fomichev, Instructor of Highest Category demonstrating Bison-1 :Breaking Horns" exercise
Dmitriy Fomichev and Ryron Gracie at the World Gracie AcademyCenter in Torrance, CA.Dmitriy Fomichev and Ryron Gracie at the World Gracie AcademyCenter in Torrance, CA.
Please read the Leaders in Targeted Forearm Strength Training article to see a more detailed comparison of Bison-1 to other competitors on the market and also take a look at the Bison-1 Comparison Chart. In short, Bison-1 can provide static and dynamic exercises, which allows for isometric and resistance training. The freedom of movement during the workouts allows for muscle and tendon stretching, increasing their flexibility, as well as working muscles from many different angles (over 100,000 exercise variations).
In fact here, is a direct feedback memo from Dmitriy Fomichev. Dmitriy is a Coach of Highest Category in Russian Hand-to-Hand Fighting, Black Belt 3rd Dan in Jiu-Jitsu Kodokan, Black Belt 3rd Dan in Japanese Hand-to-Hand Fighting – Kobudo, Blue Belt and currently a student of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Dmitriy is a coach to seven Champions of Russia in Russian Hand-to-Hand Fighting, two champions of Russia in Kobudo.
“I found Bison-1 at one of the stores here in Moscow, Russia during a National Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Before training with Bison-1, my primary means of forearm and wrist training were regular dumbbell curls, hand grippers, and mallets of several sizes. After trying Bison-1, I immediately got one of my own as I was impressed by its efficiency and ability to work my forearms out in a matter of minutes. In Jiu-Jitsu, just like in other types of grappling, you are constantly using your forearm muscles for gripping, holding, pulling, and pushing. The wrist and grip strength is vital in being able to hold on the the Gi and opponents limbs, constant stress on your joints, jerks, quick motions require not only muscles strength, but also a very good amount of tendon strength and flexibility.
I have torn my muscles many times, including my arms, as well as seen many pulled-muscle and broken bone injuries. About 80-90% of all such injuries were unintentional and were caused by untrained tendons and weak muscles supporting the joints.
In my Kickboxing, Russian and Japanese Hand-to-Hand competitive fighting classes I see many cases of wrist injuries, especially during work on heavy bags. Many of my students twisted and pulled their wrists, and injured their wrist joints during the maximum intensity “punching bag loading” exercise (trying to keep the punching bag constantly at an angle, while unloading a constant load of
Dmitriy Fomichev, Instructor of Highest Category demonstrating Bison-1 "Upper Arm Bicycle" exercise.
different kinds of punches).
Dmitriy Fomichev, Instructor of Highest Category demonstrating Bison-1 "Lower Horizontal Wrist Push" exercise.
One thing about Bison-1 is that it is specifically made for functional strength training. In martial arts you almost never use your wrists in up and down motion, you almost never have that same constant angle of pressure in isometric gripping, as you get with dynamic gripping equipment or dumbbells. You constantly twist, push, grip, and pull in different positions and from different angle – this is something, unfortunately, no other gym equipment can get your body ready for.
In the end, I would like to state that Bison-1 is the only piece of forearm strength training equipment that will train your forearms, wrists, and grip, the way they are supposed to be trained for martial arts. I have all of my students use Bison-1, and I constantly receive great feedback, as well as see the difference in trainings, about the increased functionality, strength, control, and decreased injuries in the fingers, wrists, and forearm joints. Bison-1 helped me and many of my champions take their Jiu-Jitsu, Kobudo, Russian Hand-to-Hand Fighting, and Combat Sambo to the next level.”
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Thursday, April 15th, 2010
It is common sense how big of a role arms play in some professional sports and recreational activities; therefore, instead reinventing a wheel, I have decided to create a list of all sports where arm and forearm strength are essential for success. I came up with an enormous list of over 50 types of sports, where not only arms and forearms are involved, but their strength is the key to success. Here you go, if you are involved in one of these activities – you must train your arms and forearms:
- Water polo
- Field hockey
- Track and field events
- Ping pong
- Water skiing
- Scuba diving
- Rock climbing
- Figure ice skating
- Racket ball
- Horse-back Riding
- All types of martial arts
- Dodge ball
- Power lifting
Have I missed any? I am sure I may have, please comment to this post and let me know what other professional, Olympic, or recreational activities extensively involve usage of arms and forearms! Let’s see what the list really looks like!
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Sunday, March 14th, 2010
Hi there! If you are looking for some valuable information about strength training and exercising – you are in the right place. This blog is dedicated to promoting healthy way of life, focusing on diets and exercises. Of course we are going to talk about Bison-1 as a great way to achieve forearm strength, including exercises, custom workouts, suggestions on use and so forth, however, Bison-1 will not be the main focus of the blog.
This blog will be covering strength training in general, since the topic is so broad, it will take a while to accumulate a full set of strength workouts along with a healthy diet, however, here is what we are planning to focus on:
- Why is our body strength important?
- Get strong: Arm strength in sports
- Get strong: Arm strength in daily activities
- Get strong:Bison-1 strength training
- Get strong: Upper-body strength in sports
- Upper-body strength in daily activities
- Healthy diet – does what you eat help your body get stronger?
- Get strong: Lower body strength in sports
- Get strong: Lower body strength in daily activities
- Get strong: …or not? Really bad workout habits.
- Bison Strong: Baseball Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Football Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Basketball Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Wrestling Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Martial Arts Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Tennis Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Baseball Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Bodybuilding Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Hockey Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Rowing Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Boxing Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Police Strength Training
- Bison Strong: Army Strength Training
As you noticed there are two major categories Get Strong and Bison Strong. The Get Strong category describes general strength training, importance of strength training, and general strength training exercises. The Bison Strong category is a more specialized one; here we will focus on custom strength workouts for particular focus groups including sports and law enforcement.
So here we are, if you think you are interested in this information – bookmark this page, share it, save it, print it…etc. Also feel free to ask any questions about the blog or any information on this site by e-mailing to email@example.com; you may also ask questions and talk to members of the Bison Community as well as get support in our Live Chat, visit our Discussion board for feedback, exercises, Q&A, and workout methodologies, or join our Bison Discussion Lists!
We are currently slammed with “new business” opening work, we are shooting to start posting on this blog in 03/19/10. Thanks for checking us out!
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