TSC Belt Squat [video]


This was a belt squat I did earlier today. You can see this in the video if you pay attention, but to spell it out clearly …

  • built up some pressure
  • started the clock
  • built more pressure up for the first ~15 seconds
  • maintained for the first half (45 seconds)
  • gradually kicked it up for the second half (45 seconds)
  • Actual work time approx. 90 seconds.

As McGuff has discussed, when you contract as hard as possible towards the end, your effort increases exponentially as your output barely moves, or even starts to decline.

From the Youtube description …

TSC (timed-static-contraction) belt squat on the ARX Fit Omni.

Open knee surgery + arthroscopic surgery (read more) performed July 2012. Injury resulting from barbell squats. (Kidding).

Injury was made in high school football many years ago (multiple dislocation events).

This exercise can be performed by a healthy individual. Exercise was arranged to accommodate both filming purposes and rehabilitation concerns (angle, ball, etc).

Extra padding is a personal preference (not required).

For those more curious, I was not permitted to begin rehabilitation work until September 2nd.

So the belt squat you see performed above is being performed 6.5 weeks after rehabilitation began.

I did not perform any belt squats during September (used a Nautilus Nitro leg press instead).

Wanna do this yourself? Check out this post by Drew Baye — you can do it at home for $25 plus the price of a dip/chin belt.

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at TheDreamLounge.net and Declarationism.com.

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26 Responses to TSC Belt Squat [video]

  1. Donnie Hunt October 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Hey Anthony, Is the machine pulling with a certain amount of force here or is it set so no further movement is possible?

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      Hey Donnie

      To answer your question … it happens to be set in a certain position for the static contraction. That position cannot be changed by muscular effort, of any amount. (You can put a champion body builder in the same position I am, and all that will happen is the number on the screen will tick up).

      Going further, it is impossible to set a certain amount of resistance or force on the machine. It doesn’t work like that. There is no weight, resistance, or force to adjust.

      All of the resistance and force output is user determined. As hard, or as soft as you can contract, it will provide the exact, corresponding level of resistance.

      As an example : if your maximum force output during a positive contraction for a lat pulldown is 327.8769 pounds, that is exactly the level of resistance you will experience during a lat pulldown.

      But it gets better : it provides a perfect resistance curve. So if that force output was the peak, it will adjust, millimeter by millimeter to whatever 100% of your positive strength is.

      Or 99%.

      Or 80%.

      or 50%.


      It also does this during the negative phase … and of course, during static contractions as well. Or anything else you can cook up.

      The only thing to really adjust on the machine is the speed at which the belt moves. I currently have mine set to really, really slow. But it can still get much slower.

      This allows you to make your repetition speed whatever you desire. Newer models also allow a trainer to adjust this on the fly … mid-rep even.

  2. Donnie Hunt October 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I don’t really have any practical ways to try TSCs currently. I may make the design for squats that Drew has on his site. Pete Sisco, Greg Karr, John Little and the RenEx guys got me thinking alot about contracting against an immovable object. Not that I’m suggesting eliminating dynamic contractions. Just seems like there is great potential benefits with TSCs.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      You should talk to Chris Highcock, he has some good ideas for how to implement TSC.

      • Donnie Hunt October 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

        Hey Anthony. Thanks for the explaniation on how the ARX machine works. I would be interested in talking to Chris about time static contractions. Doesn’t he post frequently on Bodybyscience.net? I seem to have problems posting there. Do you know a more direct way to get a hold of him?

        It seems to me that when doing dynamic contractions, the tool you’re using would take into account that you get weaker as you go on with your exercise. It soulds like the ARX does that.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson October 21, 2012 at 11:29 am #

          Ya, you can reach him through his blog at http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/ . His email is also posted on the right hand side, a little ways down.

          Re the ARX : yes, it does. And that’s one of the biggest leaps forward in exercise history (that no one’s talking about).

  3. Donnie Hunt October 21, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    What I meant was the tool one uses to exercise should ( not would) take into account that we get weaker as we go further into an exercise. It sounds like the ARX does that. If I remember correctly you talked about this.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 21, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      As in my other response … yes, it does take that into account, and perfectly so. It’s not an approximation.

  4. Donnie Hunt October 22, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    Thank you for the contact info for Chris, Anthony.

    I have to be careful when I make comments like “an exercise tool SHOULD take take into account the progressive weakening that happens during a given movement.” I guess my thinking is that the point of failure for a given exercise is going to potentionally vary depending on the tool. For example take a biceps curl. I could use a freeweight, a variable resistance selectorized machine, or a motorized machine, a timed static contraction, etc. I know some guys say they get into recovery trouble from doing drop sets or doing anything that takes them past concentic failure. I’m not sure of the tool they were using, but does what I’m saying make sense?

    • Donnie Hunt October 31, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Hey Anthony,

      Just wondering if you have had any “AH HAH” moments since your last posting here regarding the ARX. It is definately a hobby or interest of mine reading and learning about different strength training methods and equipment.

      • Anthony Dream Johnson October 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

        Hey Donnie

        One “aha” moment I had was about what Doug posted recently regarding hyper reps : he’s wrong.

        There are an enormous number of factors he is, surprisingly, ignoring. I’ve never seen him do anything like that before, so, it was an aha moment in that sense.

  5. Donnie Hunt October 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    I’ll have to go back and read through the rest of the comments on that blog. Are you referring to the one with “Things That Make You Hmmm” in the title?

  6. Donnie Hunt October 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Let me make sure I’m understanding the definition of a hyper rep. With gravity based equipment we are talking about more load during the negative? With motorized equipment the amount of force output, instead of load, is up to the trainee.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Hey Donnie

      I believe in general, a hyper rep signifies “maximum positive/maximum negative”. This however is only truly possible on equipment that does not depend on gravity for resistance.

      In which case, when you contract with 100% effort, you are actually getting 100% of your maximum tolerated resistance back.

  7. Donnie Hunt November 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    I went back and read that blog again and Doug’s comments to that blog. What specifically do you disagree with Doug about. Correct me if I’m wrong but what I got from it was that he feels like it’s a safer option to avoid higher force production in favor of more fatigue. I also gathered that he feels that negative contractions using a motorized machine could cause more potential trauma to the muscles. Yes there was much more written of course. You may or may not want to discuss this. Just let me know.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson November 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

      Hey Donnie

      My disagreement was specifically with the inhibition mechanism that Doug suggested exists on motorized equipment during a hyper-rep.

      Doug has not have proved his case, and I have not proved mine, but my arguments are as follows (and off the cuff) :

      A) If and only if this mechanism even exists, can one begin to explore whether or not this mechanism can be overridden (and made void) by an experienced trainee, trainer, or both. E.g. the body is reluctant to be allowed to train to positive failure. It is only though a degree of intelligence and experience that this inhibition is overridden (which is why many new trainees have difficulty training “to failure”).

      To suggest that the suggested mechanism cannot be overridden (even in the context of the specific recruitment claim) by the same means, “just because”, is ludicrous, and proving that it cannot be is, and will be a difficult task.

      B) If and only if this mechanism exists can one begin to explore whether or not it is nullified by a perfect resistance curve that exists on motorized equipment. This degree of perfection has been non-existent in recent decades, and for virtually all of Doug’s life for that matter. This occurrence is significant and cannot be overlooked in general, and in specific as applied to this context.

      C) If and only if this inhibition mechanism exists can one begin to explore whether or not it is overridden by the enormous resistances encountered during a motorized hyper-repetition. Recruitment is largely determined by …

      “Motor unit recruitment is dependent upon the force a muscle is required to produce, not contraction velocity. ”

      The forces generated during hyper-repetitions on motorized equipment are, compared to typical HIT 1-set-to-failure forces, ENORMOUS.

      They are equivalent to 1 rep maxes on equipment with a *perfect* resistance curve (further increasing the force output) — to be clear, the force generated is *even* higher than the forces generated during an all-out, 1 rep max with gravity based equipment.

      This above all else is most suspect to making this mechanism irrelevant, if it even exists in the first place, if it is not made irrelevant by a perfect resistance curve, and if it cannot be overcome merely by an experienced trainee/trainer/both.

      D) This is a little bit redundant, but any combination of the above makes a compelling case on it’s own merit.

      E) I think Doug is not thinking through this subject deeply enough and is not considering the above into his suspicion of this mechanism. Doug’s experience with motorized equipment is also limited (particularly with observing an accurate reading of force output mid-rep).

      These things occur to me as obvious as aspects to consider because I have dozens of workouts accumulated on motorized equipment, and my own piece is especially accurate (it has an additional attachment piece that is expensive and further improves the computer’s capacity to read the force output from the user).

      Feel free to re-post this. And thanks for asking. Had this on my mind for a while …

  8. Donnie Hunt November 2, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    Hey Anthony,

    You are welcome. I too feel good when getting things out that have been on my mind. Thank you for the permission to repost this and thank you for the very detailed response. I have more to say. Not really sure how organize my thoughts right now. It’s like 4 in the morning and I woke up and was having trouble going back to sleep. As you have said and shown, you have quite some experience using motorized equipmet. I have nil, lol. But, I can still get a good idea of what you are talking about and doing.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson November 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      Hey Donnie

      To be clear, while the experience has been immensely helpful, I’m not trying to claim “special knowledge” just from using the machine. The ideas that came to me were more an automatic result of simply using the thing so much … and they would probably come to most people who had a similar level of experience with the equipment, even if they were grossly misusing it, etc.

      Using the machine frequently just ingrains whats going on in your head very clearly, making it easier to think about, conceptualize, and unravel. I think Doug lacks that currently, but would pick it up very quickly if he had regular access to one (perhaps even quicker than I did or someone else would).

      • Donnie Hunt November 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

        Point well taken. I like to be clear as well.

        My current view of exercise is influenced by many sources. I don’t know if I could even name them all. Like I’ve said before, I don’t know anyone in person that’s cares about all this stuff. So it is nice being able to communicate with others that think outside the box.

        • Donnie Hunt March 2, 2013 at 12:13 am #

          The thought that keeps coming to me is that you are capable of doing a doing, for lack of a better term, a “dynamic static contraction” with this type of equipment. You are contracting against an immovable object, BUT you get to move because it moves, lol.

          I’ve been enjoying some of your other articles on here too, man. Hope life is treating you well.

          • Anthony Dream Johnson March 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

            Hey Donnie

            I think what you are referring to is a “hyper rep”, a maximum positive/negative contraction through any range of motion.

            Thanks for checking out the recent blogs. Life is good. Hope your’s is going great as well!

            – Anthony

  9. Donnie Hunt March 2, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Some things that seem of great value with equipment such as this:

    Being able to contract and the force of contraction not being a determinant of the speed of the movement arm. No momentum like you’ve talked about before. Now I know you still have to be conscious of your form as a given exercise could turn into a different exercise. Also I know that if you produce too much force, depending on your level of fatigue, you could injure yourself.

    The ability to keep dynamically contracting as your strength level fatigues and not having to break form. I know we talked about this before and I kinda stuttered on the topic lol. In order to do this with more conventional equipment you of course have to be able to change the weight very quickly or have a good training partner. Another alternative would be manual resistance, again from a really good training partner.


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