Categorized | Building Muscle

Isometric Exercises – Bodybuilding Secrets of the Old Time Strongmen

Before Charles Atlas — also known as Angelo Siciliano — became famous by promoting his exercise course called… Dynamic Tension, there have been many old-time strongman that used body weight (isotonic) and isometric exercises.

One of these individuals was Alexander Zass — better known as — “The Amazing Samson.”

(Zass, born in Poland but, lived most of his life in Russia and later on as circus performer lived in Great Britain after 1924.)

The important thing to note about Alexander Zass was how he developed his belief in the application of isometric exercise. Or as he referred to it “Maximum Tension.” He believed this training protocol was superior to any other of the normal training programs used by strongman of his day and that included using weights in the development of physical strength

He understood that isometric exercises not only developed muscular strength but, also strengthened the tendons and ligaments which are crucial to developing strength.

The amazing Samson, who was also billed as “The World Strongest Living Man” was quoted as saying “I aimed first to develop the underlying connective tissues rather than the superficial muscles,” (Taken from His Instruction Manual — Samson Systems and Methods)

He further explained, “I always wanted to develop tendon strength… without tendons, one possesses no control over the muscles and the body… the development of the tendons are the strength to my secret. Muscle alone will not hold back wild horses — but tendons will and do!”

Alexander Zass further stated in his training manual that bodybuilder type muscles were merely an illusion when it came to strength. Although he did not discourage students from developing muscular size — he did instruct them on the practice of tensing their muscles one at a time– then grouping the muscles together and tensing as many of them as possible– all at one time.

In the use of isometric exercises, he outlined 3 distinct methods — and they are as follows:


In freestyle you’re using no devices or appliances you’re just doing freehand isometrics. You are typically just using your own body.

Wall Exercises

In this method, you are using a wall, or even a tree to provide resistance instead of your own body weight or body.

Isometric Exercises Device

Here is the ideal or best way to perform isometric exercises. The disadvantages of both the freestyle and wall exercises is that there’s no effective way to measure your strength gains.

And how do you know you’re using 100% or even 70% power in this exercise? That’s where an isometric exercise device such as the Tensolator or Bully Xtreme comes into play.

These types of bodybuilding contraction devices will allow you not only to measure your strength gains but typically will give you more variety in the type and quantity of isometric exercises you can perform.

The biggest appeal of isometrics is that with a few simple movements and not a whole lot of time you can get a complete body workout — in your home — in your office — or anywhere!

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