Incorporating Isometrics into the Big Lifts

Every red-blooded male with natural testosterone pumping through his veins wants to get big and look strong as an ox. When it comes to exercise selection, whole body compound movements such as the deadlift and squat are the way to go. Any moron can tell you that.

But there is a way to perform these movements to not just develop the lower body, but to stress portions of the upper body into hypertrophy as well. It involves isometrics. Simply choose whole body movements where your upper body must stabilize the weight by isometrically contracting an upper body muscle or 2. Here are 3 of my favorites:

Snatch grip deadlift: Steve Reeves performed a variation of this one where he gripped the first two plates of the barbell and performed wide grip deadlifts. But for us with short levers, we have to do the snatch grip deadlift. This is a great exercise not just for the legs, but for your lats, since they must isometrically contract to hold the weight. If you don’t know how to do a lat spread bodybuilding pose, then this harsh exercise will beat the snot out of you to teach you.

Front squats: To perform the front squat, you have to isometrically contract your biceps to hold onto the weight and your abs to avoid tipping forward. If you do the front squat correctly, then you will be incredibly sore in the quads, biceps and abs the next day.

Overhead reverse lunges: Although overhead squats are an excellent exercise to access strength and flexibility imbalances, I prefer the overhead reverse lunge, since it activates the same muscles but more so. To perform the overhead reverse lunge, take a barbell and press it overhead. Keep the barbell pressed overhead, arms locked and perform reverse lunges. It takes quite a bit of coordination, flexibility and strength to perform this movement. But it’s a great exercise that will stress your quads, glutes, hamstrings, triceps, shoulders and rotator cuff muscles.


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