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“Stuck” in a lift? Try isometrics to break through!

A couple of the athletes this month used one of our more unique methods to build strength. Anyone that’s tried to hit a new PR in a lift only to miss, has found out how frustrating a “stick point” can be in making the gains they want. A “sticking point” is the specific part of the strength curve where an athlete struggles to display acceleration; hence the bar will “stick” or slow at that point in the lift. Therefore in order to build better speed, as well as break through to new strength levels, it’s important to address stick points and not ignore them.

A great way we’ve found to attack stick points is through the use of isometrics, aka static contractions. It’s simple physics: Isometrics provide a solution because isometric contractions (provided the athlete puts forth full intent) are 15% greater force than any concentric contraction. That extra 15% is an absolute game changer, and turns frustrating misses, into strong makes!

In using isometrics it’s important to remember that every athlete will display different stick points based on their unique structure and abilities. Therefore it’s critical the isometric is performed at the specific point in the lift where the athlete needs improvement. The athlete will start the lift, and then a training partner will use his hands to bring the bar to a complete stop for a full 2-3 seconds. This is not for the faint of heart-the athlete must be aggressive and push full force the entire time! The partner then will take his hands away, allowing the athlete to complete the rep and achieve a strong lockout.

Isometrics, especially done in this manner, are very high intensity: the athlete must be willing to push hard on these. The training partner as well must understand the exact spot where they need to stop the bar for that specific athlete‘s stick point, as well as providing enough resistance to stop the bar, but not so much they start to push the bar back down. Typically we use this as supplemental work, 75-80% for 5-6 singles on a full 1.5-2 minute rest. Executed correctly, we’ve found isometrics to be one of the best tools there is for athletes to break through the dreaded “sticks”, and into new levels of strength!


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