Accepted gym wisdom says that weight training is a matter of lifting things up and then putting them back down. The technical way of saying that is that weight training exercises can be broken down into concentric and eccentric phases. The concentric phase of an exercise is essentially the lift (for instance, the curl portion of the biceps curl) and the eccentric phase is the lowering (so the lowering of the curl back to a fully-lengthened arm).

In most cases, this approach alone can yield results, but you may be missing out on an often neglected gem: isometric movements. Isometric exercises can stimulate unprecedented growth.

What Is An Isometric Exercise?

An isometric exercise involves holding a muscle under tension, in its most contracted state, without shortening or lengthening. This magnifies the stress placed on muscle fibres. In the beloved biceps curl, this involves holding the curl at the top portion of the lift, where the muscle undergoes peak contraction. As a bonus, you’ll perfect your movement patterns and get less sore than you would from doing mostly eccentric moves.

“These moves increase the contractile force throughout your whole body,” says trainer Andy McKenzie, creator of the workout below. “They’ll also teach good form, and you can pick your timings to increase size or strength.” You’ll also build a more balanced, less injury-prone body. 

So what are you waiting for? Implement these isometric exercises into your routine for super-charged growth:

Hammer-grip chin-up

Hold the hammer grips of a pull-up rig so your palms are facing each other. Pull up explosively. Pause at the top for two seconds. Lower a third of the way down and hold for four seconds. Lower two-thirds of the way down and hold for six seconds. Lower until your arms are fully extended.

Triceps dip

Using suitable parallel bars or a dip station, get into a dip position with your legs crossed behind you. Pause at the top of the dip for five seconds. Lower halfway down and hold for ten seconds. Lower until your front delts are parallel to the floor and hold for 15 seconds. Press back up explosively.

Sandbag squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes slightly turned out, and hold a medium-sized boxing bag or Powerbag to your chest. Pause in the standing position for five seconds. Lower halfway down and hold for ten seconds. Lower to the bottom of the move – where your hamstrings should be in contact with your calf muscles – and hold for 15 seconds. Push through your heels to stand back up explosively.