I remember putting exercises on the trash heap if they didn’t have the most resistance in the contracted position…
Or I’d try to alter them to make the contracted position harder…
For example, on dumbbell curls I’d lean forward to get what’s known as “peak contraction” at the top. Or on pushdowns, I’d step back from the cable machine so that straightening my arms to contract my triceps was more difficult…
I learned later that making an exercise harder at contraction isn’t all that great. In fact, it can make an exercise less effective at max-muscle activation. Why?
In the very first X-Rep ebook was this quote from Steven J. Fleck, Ph.D., and William J. Kraemer, Ph.D. (I’ll translate their science speak after):
There is an optimal length at which muscle fibers generate their maximal force. The total amount of force developed depends on the total number of myosin crossbridges interacting with active sites on the actin. At the optimal length there is potential for maximal crossbridge interactions and thus maximal force. Below this optimal length, less tension is developed during an activation because with excessive shortening, there is an overlap of actin filaments so that the actin filaments interfere with each other’s ability to contract the myosin crossbridges. Less crossbridge contact with the active sites on the actin results in a small potential to develop tension.
Okay, your snoring was loud during that, so let me simplify: The muscle fibers are so bunched up at the contracted position that they can’t produce as much tension as when the muscle is in a more lengthened, or stretched, state.
In other words, you engage more muscle fibers in the stretch part of a rep’s stroke and less at contraction where the fibers are all crowded together.
So if you make the contracted position the hardest part of the stroke and stop a set when you can’t reach it, you’re still strong in the stretch and leave a lot of muscle-growth activation on the table…
That’s a big reason exercises like dumbbell decline extensions are better for triceps mass than pushdowns…
The extensions are hardest at the stretch, and the resistance tails off as you extend the dumbbells over your chest.
That’s why one of the key factors of an ideal exercise in Old Man Young Muscle is a stretch-loaded resistance curve—hardest when the target muscle is elongated and easiest when it’s at contraction…
With curls, I would’ve been much better off staying upright so that when the weight reached my shoulders and my upper arms naturally moved forward somewhat, resistance was much less than when it was moving away from my thighs at the start.
Or even with a slight back lean, as Arnold would often do on some sets…
As explained and outlined in the new ebook, late-phase-loaded contracted-position exercises, like pushdowns, can be mass accelerators—if you use them AFTER the ideal exercise.
It’s a great way to pack on new muscle size.
New: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
The 7-Minute “Miracle Fix” for Stubborn Belly Fat
Researchers from The Proceedings of The Nutrition Society are suggesting this “blood flow hack” is the fastest way to melt off frozen belly fat with minimal effort.
So if you want to switch on your fat-switch in just 7 minutes—without going to the gym or running on the treadmill, then check this out: