Sometimes you don’t have to actually lift weights to get bigger—you can just hold them.
Isometric training, in which you typically hold a rep at the midpoint or bottom for a few seconds, is a valid technique. “I use it to stimulate muscle growth and strengthen connective tissues,” says Latreal Mitchell, a Hollywood trainer who works with movie star Terry Crews. For example, “if it’s a leg day, I may have him hold a squat with heavy dumbbells for 10 seconds in the bottom.”
Chest Workout with Isometrics
Alternate sets of A and B. Rest only after sets of isometric pushups.
1A) Smith Machine Bench Press
Reps: 15, 8, as many as possible
Rest: 0 sec.
How to do it: Position a flat bench under a Smith machine and fix the barbell so it’s at a height you can easily reach lying down with your arms extended. Lie down on your back on the bench. Now, using a wider-than-shoulder-width pronated grip (so your palms are facing away from your body), unrack the bar. With your arms locked, inhale, and bring the bar down slowly until it’s hovering above the middle of your chest. Pause, then push the bar back up, exhaling as you go. Lock your arms again, hold for a second, then repeat.
1B) Isometric Pushups
Rest: 90–120 sec.
How to do it: Come into pushup position and lower your body down toward the floor. Pause at the midpoint and hold for five seconds. Keep your pecs as tight as you can. Lower down the rest of the way, then push up to the start position. Make sure you hold the midpoint of each rep for five seconds.