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I have a bar attached to the floor, rusted and cemented.

I can grip it and it's at the perfect height for mimicking a deadlift. Would pulling on it as hard as possible improve my deadlifting capacity and cause hypertrophy in the muscles used?

From my own research, I think not, because I remember reading that when doing isometrics, the body is only using 30% of the actual concentric strength. So if you can pull 200, that becomes 60 when pulling on something immovable. But I would like to hear an expert's opinion.

  • I remember Eddie Hall doing some training like this in a lab? They said it's essentially a 10RPE lift -- like a deadlift you can't get off the floor (or exactly like a deadlift you can't get off the floor). I don't know how you'd work it into training though. – C. Lange Sep 7 at 1:10
  • "when doing isometrics, the body is only using 30% of the actual concentric strength" – I'd be very interested in that citation, especially if it also includes the % for a regular deadlift. – Dave Liepmann Sep 7 at 9:03
  • "it's at the perfect height for mimicking a deadlift." Wouldn't this have to be multiple heights? – Dave Liepmann Sep 7 at 9:04
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    Possibly of interest rosstraining.com/blog/2019/11/… – Dave Liepmann Sep 7 at 9:05
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What you are saying is correct in principle: we are able to support greater loads isometrically than we are able to move concentrically. However, the degree of the difference is not as pronounced as you remember. Isometric strength is typically in the order of 10 per cent greater than concentric strength. That is, if we can bench press 100 kilograms (220 lbs) for a one-repetition maximum, we would likely be able to support around 110 kilograms (242 lbs) at the weakest range for a similar period of time. There is individual variation, of course, due to our genetics (relative dominance of distinct muscle fibres) and training, but the difference will be within that range.

So to rearrange our wording to the way that you presented it above, if you can pull 200 kilograms isometrically, that would be the equivalent of pulling with a ‘force’ of around 182 kilograms concentrically. Yes, there is a difference; no, it is not so great as we might think.

That still leaves the question of hypertrophy. Whilst it has been long established that isometric exercise stimulates hypertrophy, it has generally been observed that concentric exercise stimulates more than isometric exercise, and isometric exercise more than concentric exercise—the theory being that greater hypertrophy is a function of muscle fibre damage. Nevertheless, isometric exercise, and particularly maximal isometric loading (like you are performing) has been observed to stimulate significant hypertrophy.

In summary, therefore, pulling maximally, or even sub-maximally, against an immovable object should certainly stimulate significant strength development and hypertrophy, albeit somewhat less than we would expect with normal (concentric) lifting.

I hope that helps.

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What you're referring to is overcoming isometrics or moving an immovable weight. This is a great method to add to the end of a set.. for instance after doing a set of a deadlift, then try to move the rusty barbell for 5 seconds. As a hypertrophy move.. no. It be like doing an incomplete 1 rep power move. It's a great tool to add to the basics but not stand alone

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