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What are static holds good for? I don't doubt their usefulness. But what strength qualities are adressed by holding a position?

I'm mostly thinkig about exercises like the plank, horse stance, etc.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Static exercises such as planks are isometric contractions, which basically is an exercise where the muscle length and joint angles don't change.

Commonly it's believed that these kinds of exercises have some strength benefits, but also help tone and shape the muscle. I know a few coaches in various sports that use it to prefatigue muscles before workouts, so that secondary muscles are utilized more in the workouts, but I don't think there are any studies that prove those benefits.

Additionally, it will help with muscle endurance and engagement of secondary muscles.

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The answer changes a bit depending on the exercise. The core muscles are stabilising muscles, so holding a plank position is engaging your core muscles in the fashion which they are intended to be used, and that likely would bring benefits for a number of other exercises, including heavy compound lifts and monkey bar callisthenics.

When we're talking about the horse stance, I'm not sure that's actually all that useful for anything other than doing horse stance. Obviously your flexibility will be very good as deep as you go into the horse stance, and that could very well be beneficial for squats as well, but it's unlikely that you couldn't get those benefits faster by just doing squats instead. Obviously squats won't help you hold a horse stance for 5 minutes, but you're not ever going to have to hold a horse stance for 5 minutes unless you're in a martial arts class...

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