Thank you very much for your great site. I've been coming
back to it for a few years - and always found what I was looking
for. Keep on doing this great job!
Lately I've come across the strange writings of Pete Sisco
- he is opposed to most of what I've heard at the gym and from
several trainers. Have you seen his work? Could you refer me
to some studies that corroborate or refute his approach?
He suggest exercising the muscles at the peak of their
contraction, moving the weights for a 2 inches or so and holding
the contraction for 10 secs. This enables you to hoist even 200%
of the max weight you hoist in a full motion. He maintains that
this gives maximum stimulation to the muscles - and then to wait
between exercises for long periods of recuperation - up to 6
weeks between sessions.
My trainers say they never heard of this approach. Have
have not heard of Mr. Sisco but I am familiar with somewhat similar
techniques. Since I have not seen his work, I cannot say the
information he provides is necessarily inaccurate or misleading.
However you should beware of individuals selling unusual courses
online with no scientific studies to back up their claims. I
can only suspect this could be one of those cases, but out of
fairness, I can not say that for certain.
On many exercises, performing an exercise only through the
end range motion would allow you use much more weight than performing
an exercise through its full range of motion, but that does not
mean you are applying more force to the muscle. For many but
not all exercises, the end range of motion involves the resistive
force travelling closer to perpendicular (as opposed to parallel)
to the muscular forces, meaning it's easier at the end ranges
of motion, so more weight could certainly be used at the end
range of motion on many exercise (see Angle
The end of a contraction also typically produces less muscular
force. See Tension
Potential and Muscle
Vascular occlusion occurs when a contraction is held more
than a few seconds (see The
Burn) which acutely inhibites muscular force but chronically
promotes a specific
type of muscular endurance in the muscle groups being exercises
I can imagine how that sort of training would be quite challenging.
I have spoken to and observed a few high level bodybuilders who
use very short jerky and movements when weight training, but
I do not know of any that that hold the contraction as a fundamental
principle of their training, although isometric
type training as well as partials
sometime have their place with specific applications.
Most any reasonable changes of workout variables will illicit
a training response for a time. So I would predict this sort
of training would also bring about a training response as well.
I do not know of any study necessarily that would refute that
particular claim. But I can not imagine the result would be supperiour
to other training methods that also incorperate changes to training
But what ever the claim, the results should reproducible which
typically means their claims should be validated through scientific
study. The question I believe you are asking if how you can determine
if Mr. Sisco's program is more effective than any other change
of protocol or if it is merely a scam. The claims of a scams
almost always lack real scientific backing although these programs
are commonly marketed by substantiate their claim by either citing
pseudo-scientific studies or scientific findings presented out
of context. Marketing campaigns of many nutritional supplements
and certain exercise gadgets are notorious for such practices.
A PubMed search can a good starting place to see for your
self if a claim, whether it be a specific program or nutritional
supplement, has scientific validity. You will just need to use
search terms that would likely be in a scientific study to find
articles testing certain hypotheses. Just go to our Free
Online Journals page and click on Pubmed (under the 'Various'
The best book I know of that does a outstanding job of reviewing
and analyzing scientific studies on the efficacy of weight training
variables is Designing
Resistance Training Programs by Fleck and Kreamer: They also
offer a another good book for designing effective periodized
workouts is Optimal
It is very difficult to substantiate a claim without strong
scientific proof. Although it is true that scientific information
is continually evolving and what we understand today is sometimes
somewhat different than our knowledge of the past. Likewise,
we can assume what we what we will know in the future may be
somewhat different than how we understand it today. And certainly
there remain cases were our science knowledge pool has been tainted
with studies using poor scientific practices often motivated
by political or monetary gain and perpetuated by ignorance. Nevertheless
our current scientific knowledge base along with our ability
to discern pseudo-science from real science is the best criteria
for substantiating a marketer's claim.
The next best thing is what you have evidently been doing,
asking others experienced trainers and experts of their understanding
and personal experiences. I would also encourage to consider
posting your question on our forum
for other experienced visitors to answer.
Thanks for the pointers you gave me. I'll do some research
there. Mr. Sisco's approach requires very intense exercises,
with a very limited range of motion and with very long recovery
times (up to six weeks) between training sessions.
The approach is so revolutionary that it should change the whole
gym and fitness industry - just think of a gym being capable
of taking care of thousands of customers, coming in for 10 minutes
every 6 weeks....
However, since beginning in the early nineties, 20 years after
I'd expect he'd be recognized as an innovator - or be dismissed
as another snake-oil peddler. I am afraid his recognition is