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 cannot say that for certain.
On many exercises, performing an exercise only through the
end range motion would allow you to 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 exercises (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 inhibits muscular force, but chronically
promotes a specific
type of muscular endurance in the muscle groups being exercised
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 movements when weight training, but I do
not know of any that hold the contraction as a fundamental principle
of their training, although isometric
type training as well as partials
sometimes have their place with specific applications.
Most any reasonable changes of workout variables will elicit
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 cannot imagine the result would be superior
to other training methods that also incorporate changes to training
But whatever the claim is, the results should be reproducible
which typically means their claims should be validated through
scientific study. The question I believe you are asking is 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 claim
of a scam almost always lack real scientific backing, although
these programs are commonly marketed by substantiating 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 be a good starting place to see for yourself
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 an 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 another good book for designing effective periodized workouts,
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 will know in the future may be somewhat
different than how we understand it today. And certainly there
remain cases where 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 other 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