Functional Training Zones

The General Population


What comes to mind when you think of general population? If you’re thinking 40-plus, novice trainee who’s mostly sedentary and has some sort of injury history, we’re on the same page. The question with this population becomes how do we deliver tough workouts that drive body composition results without overloading? The answer: Intense methods such as isometric holds and timed sets.

Isometric holds are simply using compound movements, such as squats, pushups, or pullups, but holding them in multiple positions for a length of time. Here why we love them: (1) They’re an easy time-under-tension hack, allowing you to increase time under tension by using 30-second holds that don’t require weight; (2) They increase stability by forcing the body to use all of its stabilizers; (3) They make you a great teacher because you have the time to correct the movement a lot easier. For example, “Knees out, chest, up, hold” versus more complicated directions that involve movement

When first introducing isometric holds, start off with 20- or 30-second total holds for the first week. Training tip: Use multiple joint positions. Why? If you’re only holding a single position, you’re limited to strengthening the area within plus or minus 10 degrees of that positon. By working through a range of positions — for example, starting at the top of a pullup, moving to the mid 90-degree point, and then finishing at the 120-degree position — you’ll strengthen the movement through a wider range of motion. There are two ways to do this. You can hold one set in three positions, 5-10 seconds in each position for a total of 20-30 seconds for more intensity. Or, with more advanced clients you can have them hold for 20-30 seconds in one position for each set, and simply change the position as you go from set to set.

While building a foundation, we’ll use timed sets. How it works: We put time on the clock — 20 seconds, 30 seconds, all the way up to 60 or 70 seconds — and go. We’ll want these to be done with simple movements such as chest flys or pulldowns, so they don’t have to be coached. The goal is to get 1.5 reps per second to drive hypertrophy and build work capacity.

Want to learn more about our methodology and training? Become an EXOS-Certified Performance Specialist and you will learn training tips that apply to every population you work with.

(June 2016)