Thread: The Root of Contraction
02-16-2004, 05:21 AM #1
The Root of Contraction
I just finished the book, Static Contraction Training by Peter Sisco and John Little (BTW - every book I have read of theirs has been awesome). The book is a very good read above and beyond teaching the fundamentals of SCT! I thought this was an excellent way to describe muscle contractions:
Muscle contraction begins with an electrical signal from the central nervous system. When the current arrives at the muscle, it is immediatly transferred up and down the length and depth of the muscle through a relay system of tubules. When the message reaches each one of those thousands of receptor sites, it drops of a little shot of calcium. Calcium inhibits the noncontractile proteins tropin and tropomyosin, which, until calcium showed up, had been doing there job of keeping the actin and myosin proteins seperated. The calcium has the same effect on tropin and tropomyosin that kryptonite has on Superman - it takes away their power to seperate actin and myosin, inhibiting their ability to function - and their function, of course, is to keep the contractile proteins from contracting.
Further analysis reveals this process even more clearly when we look at the sarcomere, which is simply one individual unit of actin and myosin. At each end of the sacromere is a rather broad anchoring structure called a z-disc. And extending inward from each z-disc are thin strands of actin that just manage to overlap the much thicker strands of myosin that reside smack-dab in the middle of each sacromere.
Myosin protein strands have little receptor site that emanate outward from either side of their main bodies that resemble something of a cross between little hooks and the strands of a feather. Technically, these receptor sites are called cross-bridges, as they serve to bridge or connect actin and myosin.
Once the electrical charge for contraction arrives via the nerve cells from the brainto the muscle, the nerve cells drop off a little packet of calcium that immediatly severs the leashlike effect of the troponin and tropomyosin. With the leash removed, so to speak, several rather phenomenal actions take place involving the now free-floating actin and myosin:
- The cross bridges rotate and in so doing draw the actin filaments and z-discs inward ever so slightly.
- The cross bridges begin to attach to the actin protein strands.
- The proteins themselves undergo a change in shape.
- The sacromere shortens as both z-discs are drawn inward.
02-16-2004, 08:44 AM #2
The burn from SCT is uneal when worked correctly. Lately I been finishing my last rep with a 10-12 sec static hold and you won't believe how sore the bodypart is the next day.
02-17-2004, 10:41 AM #3
Yeah - I have been employing it for delts for awhile and have been getting really good results in overall strength and size. I still do regular mil presses - but I usually do static holds for side and rear dumbell raises...
But they really make some good points in regards to just keeping a static contraction on the muscle vs a full range movement... and they show results of several studies...
Someone mentioned static holds about a month or two ago here and I saw Sisco and Little had a pub on it so I grabbed their book (I was pretty impresses with their book Power Factor Training in the past). And I was very impressed with this one as well. The part in the book about the supplement industry had me rollin'... they disect advertisements and show you how substantial claims are worthless... their initial example was their own ad selling Critical Mass Oranges With Quantum Energy using rediculous phrases from actual magazines Maybe if I muster up the typing skills one more time all post that as well... pretty informative on hat sup manufacturers can say, can't say and hat they do say... otherwise get the book...
02-20-2004, 07:40 AM #4
The best way to blast through a sticking point...
and anytime........... static training....... ya got to love it.. but easy to over train...........
old habits die hard...
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02-20-2004, 08:04 AM #5Senior Member
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Good post. Helped me understand a few things a bit clearer.
I personally wouldn't use SCT being a powerlifter or athlete (not that bodybuilders aren't athletes) just because in most sports static strength isn't an issue (except for maybe grip stregnth).
My point being I'm big on training philosophy and correct sport specific training which IMO most people know little about (just look at how many high school and college athletes you see in the gym training like BB'ers yet they claim to be training for their specific sport).
Again not to take anything away from SCT I DO believe it holds a valid place in some training practices. I just hate too see people using the wrong type of training for their intended goals.
Sorry for the rant,
02-21-2004, 08:16 PM #6Originally Posted by xxxl83
Sisco and Little would severly disagree with it not being sport-specific training as well. In fact they were featured in a popular Golf mag for the results SCT had on developing a better game for older golfers (typically less capable at making big gains then their younger counterparts).
BTW - Sisco (and Little) mention that just becasue you are training the muscle at a steady contraction does not mean you will only develop static strength - they mention that as one of the biggest misinterpretations of the program. Dynamic strength also shows a marked inprovement from SCT... which they believe is a more effective way to work a muscle - by working it in its actual contracted state rather than letting it "rest" and recruit supporting muscle groups using a full-range rep.
Anyhoo - here is a quote from Sisco regarding sport-specific training and static strength training:
"The appeal of Static Contraction Training was the fact that it permitted very brief workouts that could be spaced very far apart. As I'm now over forty, I am particularly interested in not just the minimum dose of exercise that can trigger new muscle growth, but more in the minimum dose of exercise which can sustain my lean mass into middle age and beyond.
"Old habits of thinking are often difficult to break. So even when I designed the Static Contraction Research Study, measurements were taken that would demonstrate static training's benefits, not just to static strength and muscle mass gains, but also to full range strength. It took me about a year to realize that static strength has its own merits which, in many applications, rank above full range strength.
I have become sensitized to how often I find myself using the static strength of my muscles rather than the dynamic strength of my muscles. For example, before these words were put on this page they were first dictated into a hand held recorder. One of my favorite ways of mixing work with pleasure is riding my off road motorcycle into the wilds of Idaho's mountains, finding a remote area of pristine wilderness, in today's case bedecked with wildflowers and elk tracks, and dictating articles like this one.
When riding a motorcycle, particularly in off road or motocross conditions, the body expends a great deal of muscular energy but nearly all of it is expended by holding the muscles statically. The biceps and triceps hold, or attempt to hold, the handlebars in a more or less fixed position despite being bumped and buffeted by various obstacles. The quadriceps and ham strings hold the body in a position three or four inches off the seat and do their best to maintain that rigid position in space despite the up and down motion of the motorcycle.
Once again I was aware of the value of static strength while trap shooting. All shooting sports rely on the ability of the muscles to have sufficient static strength to hold the gun perfectly steady under all conditions. Dynamic, or full range strength, is never used. I notice that my ten-year-old son, Alex, who shoots with me, can always break more clay pigeons on his first ten shots than he can on his second ten. I attribute this difference to muscle fatigue that sets in sometime after his first ten shots. I have no doubt that if he were to increase his static strength he would find it less tiring to hold his shotgun and his scores would improve proportionately. The same holds true for most adults after thirty to fifty shots.
Two more examples are alpine and water-skiing. A water-skier holds his arms and legs in a more or less rigid position while skiing. He will shift position from time to time but once shifted his knees and elbows stay bent at about the same angle. Bobbing up and down in the range of motion of a full squat, for example, would serve no purpose but to look ridiculous and manifest bad form. Skiers need static strength and they need it at a specific point in their range of motion.
Lately I have wondered just how long the list of sports and activities that utilize static strength really is. Horseback riding, mountain biking (upper body), wrestling, jet skiing, nearly all gymnastic events, fencing and no doubt many more sports all lend themselves to Static Contraction Training. In any application where an athlete would benefit from having more static strength at a specific point in his range of motion, he would surely benefit more by exercising statically and therefore developing the exact form of strength he needs, where he needs it.
As exercise science further evolves I firmly believe that Static Contraction Training will play not just the role I originally envisioned, of "minimum dosage" for maintaining or increasing muscle mass, but also as a very precise method of placing additional strength exactly where it is needed."
BTW (part 2 ) - as you probably already know, there are three types of muscular failure... 1) concentric failure - simply means you can't lift the weight again. 2) static failure - your muscles are so wiped out that you can't even hold the weight statically at any point in the range of motion. 3) eccentric failure - this the point where you can't control the weight as you lower it, regardless of what tempo you're using. Going to static failure places a greater demand on your body (a greater training stimulis), rather than simply stopping when you can't push or pull anymore. Here is part of their argument... the authors of SCT say negatives are not as good as static holds because there really is no way to judge improvements (training progression) - you don't know how much force you are exerting per workout. For example - when doing slow negatives you may be pushing 405lbs with anywhere between 315-400 pounds of force output... with static holds you are holding 405 - when you can't hold it anymore the set is terminated. You know where to measure improvements for next time.
02-21-2004, 09:18 PM #7Senior Member
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OK warrior you piqued my intrest here.
This is my story I'm all about effeciency I know almost any type of training will yeild benifits but, what will yeild the most benifits in the least amount of time for a given activity? Each will be different a ME bench workout obviously won't do much for a sprinter.
The author makes a good point about certain sports/ activities using static contraction (pl'ing just isn't one of them).
I'll tell you what though I'm gonna give this a shot. Now I'm not gonna go strictly SCT but, I will incorperate some of it in my training (maybe you could send me a list of exercises and I'll figure out what's relavant to my situation)and see what's up.
I'm comming off of an injury (sliced my arm (bicept) and cut the muscle) so I won't be entering any comps any time soon so I can experiment with my training some.
I'll give some of these principles a whole hearted shot. I'll be the first one to admitt I don't know it all (just most of it j/k). When it comes to training sometimes it's worth it to try something and then figure out why it works.
So I'd appreciate if you could PM me or post some info regarding some sct exersices (how much weight to use, what angles, how long to hold etc..) this way I could figure out how to put my training schedule together. Oh and just for the record I'd read the book myself but time has been a bit scarce lately.
Last edited by xxxl83; 02-21-2004 at 09:29 PM.
02-22-2004, 12:14 AM #8
I couldn't explain it any better than Sisco and Little can... this is the book I got off Amazon... essentially the bible of SCT:
They mention that you should use SCT - and only SCT since it puts such a strong demand on the muscle. However - like you... I descided to slowly work it in. Like mentioned, I have been using it for delt static holds - but recently I started finishing legs with static quad extensions and ham curls. They say once you can do a 15 second hold in your strong range - then increase the load and knock yourself back down to about 10 seconds. Then work back up to 15 at the new weight.
They say one of the biggest mistakes is people not going heavy enough. I started SCT (before I new enough about it) doing up to 45 second holds for lateral and rear raises. You just fight to hold form while your muscles quiver trying to recruit more and more fibers. But, according to Sisco and Little - SCT should be contractions no more than 15 seconds in duration...
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