Q&A: Working Up To A 90-Second Timed Static Contraction

Question: I just tried a few of the exercises from your ebook Timed Static Contraction Training and they are an absolute killer! I think I need to build up to the 90 seconds, though, because I am used to short duration isometrics. Maybe 20:20:20? What do you recommend?

Answer: Because of the longer duration and higher average intensity many people who previously only performed traditional isometric training methods find timed static contractions (TSC) extremely challenging, especially the squats. If you’re not used to doing them it can be difficult to work through the burn and maintain the prescribed intensity of effort during the second and third phases. Rather than starting with a shorter time and building up, though, you should alter the relative lengths of the phases while keeping the total time the same.

Drew Baye demonstrating a TSC belt squat

While a shorter time would still be effective for improving muscular strength and size as long as your intensity of effort is high, I recommend keeping the time longer to also create more of a metabolic and cardiovascular demand and for safety, both of which are covered in detail in the book.

To determine how much to adjust the duration of the phases you should first attempt to perform each phase as explained in the book. Keeping track of the time, make a note of when either the burning becomes unbearable or you start to hold back your effort on an exercise. Do this for a few workouts. If you are able to continue the third phase for five or more seconds each time there is no need to adjust the durations, just keep doing it and you will eventually be able to work through the burn and maintain a maximum effort for the full time. If you are only able to continue for about the same amount of time, then reduce the third phase to this amount of time and add the time you took off the third phase to the first. For example, if you are only able to get through fifteen seconds of the third phase, reduce it to fifteen and increase the first phase to forty-five seconds. Then, after a few workouts increase the third phase and reduce the first phase by five seconds. When you are able to maintain maximum effort for the full  third phase, do it again, until you’re up to the full thirty seconds.

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