Total Body Strength – Loaded Isometrics for Size & Strength

So many interesting ways to modify your training to build muscle and strength.  Nate Palmer discusses using loaded isometrics for size and strength at T Nation.


Here’s what you need to know…

•  Loaded isometrics teach irradiated tension, which increases strength gains in almost every exercise.

•  These moves can be done to increase either muscle size or strength, depending on the load used and the time under tension.

•  These exercises will teach you to use your entire body as one unit, test your mettle, and build strength in several key areas. Perform these after your main lift for the day, as a finisher, or just to test your willpower and see how strong you really are.

  Keep the entire body tight to build total body strength. Keep your mental focus on the muscle you’re working. Build your mental focus and you will get stronger!


Loaded isometrics can teach you a great number of things. The lesson I always learn is that I’m not as strong or as tough as I think I am. It’s always a humbling experience to feel a whole new level of pain from a familiar exercise and it’s a good check to see if you’re actually working on your weak areas or just on the exercises you like.

Loaded isometrics are also fantastic for teaching the concept of irradiated tension, which, when properly performed, can increase strength gains in almost every exercise. The basic premise of irradiated tension is the idea that the body does not function in single units, but that the entire structure is important for even the smallest isolation move. In other words, when you create tension through your whole body, a dumbbell curl is more than just a dumbbell curl.

To create this next-level type of tension through your whole body, assume an athletic stance, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and starting with your core, begin to tighten your abs and then your glutes to create a foundation. Then squeeze the quads, pull the shoulder blades down and back, engage the lats, and lastly, tighten both fists.

Make sure you’re taking small shallow breaths and then take inventory of your body. You should feel like an immovable object. If you need more proof that this technique will allow you to lift more, do a single arm dumbbell press with your weaker arm. Try it once without the tension, and try it once with it. Make up your own mind.

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