Put Your Workout on Hold

Categories: Blog Nov 12, 2018

Many of us, when we train for strength, focus on moving and loading the movement. In the pursuit of strength and health, I’m all about focusing on good movement and I can certainly get behind loading good movement too. But this isn’t the only way to build strength. In fact, it’s not the first way you once began training for strength. 

When you were a child, you once began building strength through isometrics, or holding positions. You didn’t necessarily hold positions on purpose, but you did it because it was all you could do. Well, the truth is you were trying to move but the force of gravity was close to equal with the force you could generate and your “movement” was still. 

Ever see a new baby try to lift their head up off the floor. It’s effort. There is a tug of war, or back and forth, between managing the weight of their head and the pull of gravity. This struggle, this back and forth, that at times looks like stillness or “held movement” is where strength first begins. Initially, a baby can hold a position with their head for only moments, but as time goes by and strength builds a baby develops the ability to hold their head in position for minutes. 

This holding of position that we all did as children is where we first started building our strength. This is where we learned how to stabilize our joints under the load of our own body and from here is where we developed the ability to move our body from point a to point b. What I’m trying to say is that holding movement, performing isometrics, is what initially built the strength AND control we would need to effortlessly move our bodies. It might stand to reason then, that if we wanted to effortlessly move our current bodies with strength AND control that maybe we should revisit the earliest ways in which we did this to start with. 

If you’ve watched any of my videos on moving slowly, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of using slow motion to fill in any gaps in strength. Isometric holds are much like moving very slowly, only you’re moving so slow there is no motion. It’s practicing “still movement” like this that can also help you achieve super slow movement. Anyway, holding positions or trying to move immovable things can really fill in gaps in strength.

If you regularly engage in strength training, how often do you perform isometrics or “holds” in your strength training? What do you think would happen if you began deliberately doing this now? I’ll cut the guess work out for you. You would fine tune your strength and control. You would begin to move even better than you do now; much in the same way you did as a child. I know I cut the guess work out for you, but you don’t need to blindly believe me. You need to try this and experience it so you can know for yourself.

Here is a simple 5 minute routine you can do a few times a week. If you’re up for an experiment, give this a try and see how it affects how you move and feel. All you need is a clock with a minute hand or a stopwatch. 

        • Speed Skater Holds x 30 seconds each side x 2 rounds
            • Hold the speed skater position and breathe into your belly

        • Cross-crawl hold while on your hands and knees x 30 seconds each side x 2 rounds
            • Get on your hands and knees and touch your opposite hand to your opposite knee while suspending them in the air.
            • Breathe into your belly

    • REPEAT entire sequence again
    • You’re welcome

Seriously, something this simple can allow you to move with more strength and control. It can allow you to feel better. This is just an intro, you can do each of these for 1 minute or 2 or 3... The more you do, the easier it gets. AND the longer it takes! 

Anyway, experience this to know it. Add this simple hold routine into your program 2 to 3 times a week and see what you discover. At the very minimum, you will be stronger. And it is this minimum that could be the foundation for all the other strength and control you ever want to have. 

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