For years I had a nice body…when at the gym. After loading my body up with NO boosters, creatine, and beta alanine, I was a beast.
Outside of the gym, once the pump went away, my body really wasn’t where it needed to be.
A year ago a friend introduced me to the concept of muscle density. Muscular density refers to the hardness your muscles have when at rest. Muscular density is also referred to as muscle tone:
In physiology, medicine, and anatomy, muscle tone (residual muscle tension or tonus) is the continuous and passive partial contraction of the muscles, or the muscle’s resistance to passive stretch during resting state.
Everyone can have big muscles when the blood is pumped up with blood, nitric oxide, BCAAs, and creatine.
But unless you’re doing push-ups at the club, a body lacking muscular density isn’t going to do you much good. I needed to find a way to always look big.
I’ve found two ways to increase muscular density. The first method I learned from my fitness model friend. The second is from Dante Trudel.
Static holds. When I first started training static holds, I changed my body over the summer. Although I didn’t gain any weight, I looked bigger. I immediately had my friend start doing static holds. His body changed in a couple of my months and he looked bigger at 168 pounds than most guys look at 200. (Most people assume I weigh 200-210, even though I’m only 186 pounds. My fitness model friend looks like a running back, even though he “only” weighs 207.)
Here’s how to do static holds: During your last work set of a major muscle group (chins, bench, dips, etc.), hold the weight at the top of the movement. Fight the movement for 30-60 seconds. When training friends I actually countdown aloud 30, 29, 28…
Imagine you are doing a pull-up. At the top of the movement, hold it. Gravity is going to keep pulling on your body. Fight gravity for as long as possible.
Your muscles will continue contracting while you are holding yourself on the chin-up bar.
At the top of the squat or deadlift , don’t just rack the bar when your set is complete. Slightly bend the knees and support the weight.
The takeaway is to get your muscle fibers contracting while sustaining a load, not just when moving a load through a range of motion. Today I did a hellacious static hold/ab workout.
Raise yourself to the top position of a chin-up. Do leg lifts while holding your chin over the bar. Brutal.
Unconscious nerve impulses maintain the muscles in a partially contracted state. If a sudden pull or stretch occurs, the body responds by automatically increasing the muscle’s tension, a reflex which helps guard against danger as well as helping to maintain balance. Such near-continuous innervation can be thought of as a “default” or “steady state” condition for muscles. There is, for the most part, no actual “rest state” insofar as activation is concerned.
1-and-1/3 reps. Most reps are “down-up.” You lower the weight in the bench press. You press the weight. One rep. Down-up.
- Bench press/pushing movements: To do a 1-and-1/3 rep, you will lower the weight in the bench press all the way to your chest. You will press the barbell 1/3 of the way up. Then you’ll lower it again. Then you will do one full range of motion repetition.
Each rep is thus more than one rep. It’s one-and-one-thirds of a rep. Do 5-7 of these reps.
- Rows/pulling movements: The 1-and-1/3 rep works best for back. Do a cable row. At the top of the movement (your have the weight pulled back at your body), let the weight go 1/3 of the way back. Pull the weight back towards. Then let the weight go all the way down. Then pull the bar back towards your body.
Doing one-and-one-third reps will ensure that your back remains contracted throughout the entire movement.
I know guys who never got a pump in their rear lats whose back growth exploded after adding 1-and-1/3 reps.
Although this method works best for the back, you can do 1-and-1/3 reps for other exercises.
You can also vary where you add the 1/3 rep. Maybe you are stronger at the bottom of the bench press and weaker at the top of the movement. In that case, do not lower the weight all the way to your chest.
Instead you should lower the weight 1/3 of the way towards your chest. Then press the weight up. Then do your full repetition.
How to add static holds and 1-and-1/3 reps into your training. Static holds are hell on your joints, so use them with caution. Start off with 10 second holds and work your way up.
You don’t need to do static holds for every movement. Just pick one major movement for your large body parts. I do static holds for t-bar rows, pull-ups, and the hammer strength chest machine.
I don’t advise using static holds for free weight movements like the bench press or shoulder press. Your neural system may give out, causing you to dump the weight. Ask yourself, “If I dumped the weight, would it fall on my head?” If so, don’t do a static hold.
Avoid using static holds for smaller muscle groups, as they will wreck your biceps tendon.
1-and-1/3 reps are much easier on your joints. I even use a form of 1-and-1/3 reps for my biceps.
21s (biceps curls):
Start at the top of the movement and lower the bar 1/3 of the way. Do 7 reps.
Start at the bottom of the movement and raise the bar 1/3 of the way. Do 7 reps.
Do 7 full reps.
Start incorporating static holds and 1-and-1/3 reps and within eight weeks you will notice a major improvement in how your body looks while at rest.