By Brian Murray, M.Ed.
Director of Clinical Research, ViiV Fitness

Over the past 17 years I have had many new clients come into my program who were already lifting weights as part of their exercise routine. They would usually ask, "Can I keep doing that?" My response was always, "Sure go ahead," knowing that eventually they would have a decision to make.

Almost immediately after beginning our work together every single client would tell me that the weights they were lifting felt so much lighter, so they would start lifting heavier weights. Everything else they were doing in their life was becoming much easier as well, so eventually they would stop lifting weights and often say, "I just figured why bother when i'm getting so much stronger doing this?"  

isometric strength training

Now for those who are new to ViiV or may have forgotten what my program has been for 17 years here's a recap: five seconds of maximum isometric effort at four stations. A 20 second workout (sometimes even less than that).

So what's going on here? Why might a few seconds of isometric effort make weight lifting unnecessary?

All out maximum isometric effort in the most efficient joint angles for producing maximum force expose your body to incredibly high loads. Higher loads lead to greater strength and neurological efficiency improvements. In a 2017 paper by Jenkins et al titled 
Greater Neurological Adaptations Following High- vs. Low-Load Resistance Training, neuromuscular adaptations were studied following three and six weeks of 80% vs. 30% one repetition maximum dynamic resistance training to failure in leg extensors. It was found that despite similar increases in muscle thickness, strength improvement was much greater in the high load group. This group also exhibited a significantly higher increase in the ability to voluntarily activate musculature while the low load group had almost no change. 

Again, maximum isometric effort performed in your most efficient joint angles exposes you to the highest loads possible. It also leads to even greater changes in neurological efficiency. In a 2001 paper by Babault et al titled 
Activation of Human Quadriceps Femoris During Isometric, Concentric, and Eccentric Contractions, it was shown that voluntary activation during isometric contraction was far greater than concentric or eccentric contractions (eccentric being the lowest for all those fans of heavy negatives).

But there is something else happening here that makes my case stronger.

In the Jenkins study another hypothesis was also tested: if high-load training improves neurological efficiency better than low-load training, when working at submaximal force levels a smaller proportion of strength should be used. That is exactly what happened. Voluntary activation actually went down significantly in the high load group with little change in the low load group. This indicates greater efficiency from high load training. In other words, you are able to exert the forces you need but with less neuromuscular activity. You are able to do more with less. This makes perfect sense. In nature you don't adapt to expend more, you adapt to expend less. This is why everything you do becomes easier. 

And that is why all of my clients finally made the decision to stop lifting weights. It was unnecessary. They weren't getting from weight lifting what they were getting from just seconds of isometrics. 

With the ViiV-Rx you have the ability to measure and safely expose your body to the highest loads possible in just a few seconds. This improves your neurological efficiency. This gives you greater strength increases. This makes everything you do less taxing. Isn't greater strength why people lift all those weights?  

So, if isometrics expose your body to the highest loads AND yield much larger changes in voluntary activation AND yield much larger increases in strength AND provide greater neurological efficiency improvement AND it only takes a few seconds to get these benefits why is there a need to make weights go up and down and age your joints in fast forward? 

If you like lifting weights please enjoy, but if you're looking for a more efficient way to achieve even greater gains consider taking a serious look at isometrics. I guarantee the masses (your clients/patients) are starting to learn more about it. When they discover that they can get life-changing results from just a few seconds a week what do you think they are going to choose?

Get on board now. The change is coming. I promise you.

Consider the ViiV-Rx. To not be using isometrics is like leaving money on the table.