How to Incorporate Static Exercises into Your Training Routine

The Only Way to Perform Static ExercisesSo you want to take your strength training to another level. You are certain that lifting weights is not your limit and you definitely need some cool statics like the Handstand or the Planche in your routine. Here comes the tricky part: how to incorporate both static and dynamic exercises into a sound training program without sacrificing too much of a progress?

Well, this article will help you to answer this question.

What Static Exercises?

You probably know and have seen the cool stuff like the Human Flag, but are bodyweight statics your only options? No. There are tons of static exercises you can perform with heavy weights. Let me somewhat classify them:

1. Bodyweight Statics

This type of static exercises is the most impressive in my opinion. A lot of people get into progressive calisthenics only to learn these awesome skills. I haven’t seen a layman who can resist the “what the fuck” look on his face when someone performs a full Planche in front of his/her eyes.

The vivid examples of bodyweight statics are the Handstand, the Planche, the Front Lever, the Human Flag, the Iron Cross, etc.

2. Weighted Statics

Weighted static exercises are way more obscure comparing to the previous type. They are less sexy and serve a bit different purpose. They are rarely considered as skills, but rather as utility drills to fire up the nervous system and to strengthen the tendons and ligaments.

Not many people know, but weighted statics can actually help you with developing strength for bodyweight ones. If you mimic the position correctly and use proper set/rep protocol, they can be very useful. However, don’t be ignorant to suppose that you can achieve, for example, the Planche only by holding 2 dumbbells or kettlebells mimicking the actual position. If the skill you are trying to nail requires balance in addition to strength, then, of course, you need to practice the skill itself first and foremost.

Examples of weighted static exercises could be Bench Press Top Position Holds, Kettlebell Crucifix Hold, holding kettlebells in the Planche position, while lying on your back, etc.

3. Isometrics

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of isometrics because you can’t really measure anything with them. If the resistance is so heavy that you can’t possibly move it, how do you know how much strength do you apply? How do you know when you get stronger? How do you know whether what you are doing works or not? With isometrics, there are much more questions than answers.

However, if you use an isometric exercise as a utility drill to increase your strength in a certain portion of the move you struggle with, it can be really helpful. Let’s take the Bench Press as an example. You feel that you can press more weight, but you have that “dead spot” where the bar seems to stop for some reason and nothing helps. In this case, you can set two pins in a power rack right where your “dead spot” is and two a bit lower (to place a bar on them). Lie down on the bench, try to press the bar in the “dead spot” for several reps. Put a serious effort in this. Your body will remember the feeling and you will be able to move past any “dead spot” in real training. Tip: If your power rack isn’t heavy enough, put some plates on its sides.

How to Mix Static Exercises with Your Training?

Statics most of the time are harder than dynamic exercises. They WILL interfere with your favorite drills if you mix everything in wrong proportions.

There is one main rule for almost all static exercises: they should be placed before dynamics in the program. This way you can progress in both portions. Try it other way and most likely your statics will suck.

In case of bodyweight holds, there are several ways to implement them into your current program:

“Grease the Groove” method. Pick one skill you want to add. Test your maximum in the appropriate progression step. Perform several efforts throughout the day at 50% of your max intensity. For example, you want to add the Human Flag. You can hold the Straddle Human Flag for 6 seconds. Perform 3-second holds throughout the day everyday or 6 days a week.

“Steady State Cycle” method. Pick two skills you want to add. Test your maximum  in the appropriate progression step. Divide the max by 2 to get your set time. Perform these sets for a total of 60 seconds 3-5 times per week. For example, you want to add the Planche and the Front Lever. You can hold the Advanced Tuck Planche for 12 seconds and the One-Leg Front Lever for 16 seconds. Perform 10 sets of 6 seconds in the Planche and 8 sets of 8 seconds in the Front Lever 3-5 times per week for 4-8 weeks straight.

The Rough Strength method. Pick a skill you want to add. Train it heavy once a week and practice it in half of the intensity in the rest of the week. I like to keep it simple. Interestingly, this method worked the best for me. Let me give you an example. Let’s assume that you want to train the Planche. You can do Knees Wide Advanced Tuck version for 8 seconds at the moment. Train it heavy once a week. Use something sound like the most flexible set/rep scheme. You can go with sets as long as you want. Your body will tell you when to stop. I usually do approximately 10 sets. Call it a day. Use the GTG method [explained above] in the rest of the week.

By the way, the last method was the most useful in my training and with my clients. GTG is the second. SSC is the third.

In case of weighted statics, again, you have several ways to implement them into your program:

Weighted Top Holds. This is a great way to trick your mind to be stronger. I haven’t used it much due to specificity of my training, but it is a very interesting concept. So let’s take the Bench Press as an example. After the warm-up right before the first work-set, load the bar to 125% of what you are going to press. Unrack it and hold for 10 seconds, then rack it back. Immediately strip down to 100% and press. Hopefully, the bar should feel much easier. Although, this technique works not for every exercise. Try it to see where it fits.

Kettlebell Crucifix and such. These exercises should be treated in the same way as the bodyweight holds. Technically, there is no difference for your body.

Mimicking the Bodyweight Holds. I had the best success with these when performed them right after the actual hold I’m mimicking.

In case of isometrics, there is no hard rule. You need to experiment. I used to put them on a separate part of the day. For example, if I train at AM, I can do isometrics at PM.

Example Program

Let me give you a sample program that uses several of the principles laid out in this article.

Monday

A) Military Press – 3 x 5

B) Weighted Chin-Up – 3 x 5

GTG) Advanced Tuck Planche – several sets of 5 sec throughout the day

Tuesday

A) Barbell Squats + Top Holds – 125% Hold + 3 x 5

B) Kettlebell Crucifix – 3 sets of 10 sec

C) One-Leg Calf Raises – 3 x 20

GTG) Advanced Tuck Planche – several sets of 5 sec throughout the day

Wednesday

GTG) Advanced Tuck Planche – several sets of 5 sec throughout the day

Thursday

A) Advanced Tuck Planche – 60 sec total (Let’s say you did 10 seconds on the first set last time)

B) One-Arm Kettlebell Bent-Over Row – 3 x 8 each arm

Friday

A) Double Kettlebell Snatch – 3 x 5

B) Double Kettlebell Swings – 3 x 10

GTG) Advanced Tuck Planche – several sets of 5 sec throughout the day

Saturday

GTG) Advanced Tuck Planche – several sets of 5 sec throughout the day

Sunday

Off.

Again, this is just an example program to show you how to use these techniques. You will need to adapt the principles to your own situation.

Closing Thoughts

Statics are badass and rough. Now you have all the necessary knowledge to add them to your routine. Use it and prepare to scare the shit out of people with your new skills. Thanks for reading.

Play rough!

Alex

Every time you don’t like and share this article, you upset a kitten somewhere.

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8 thoughts on “How to Incorporate Static Exercises into Your Training Routine

  1. torgny

    Good to hear from you now with all the turmoil going on in Ukraine. This was rather interesting to read since I have just started looking at static holds, such as complementing my leg raises with L-sits. I will for sure have a look at the ideas presented here.

    Reply
  2. Ironthumb

    I also use statics but for hypertrophy – inducing intensity technique.
    On the way down I have someone push down on three parts of the way down:
    1)top most position
    2)midway
    3)stretched out position

    the burn after that ONE ste would be excruciating indeed. Mentzer called this technique the Omni contractions

    Reply
      1. Ironthumb

        Off course,
        I had to
        OR ELSE
        hair would have grown on my palms!!

        And your posts are gread, mate
        One thing about the fitness industry is body weight training tends to be under-rated and machines prefered over old-school regimens such as calisthenics, sad really

        Reply
  3. ajit

    I want to ask, when doing G T G, spread over a day, do one has to do warm up every time ?
    if warm up and cool down are to be also done along with, would not it become exceedingly time consuming ?

    Reply

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