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Selective Tension

October 20, 2004 01:13 PM Athletic Performance Enhancement Solutions Team

Selective Tension is a protocol I devised to coach my clients on maximizing strength gains through optimizing their muscle software. Selective Tension uses a method of Complex Training involving using disparate equipment in one combination exercise.

Selective Tension utilizing differing pieces of equipment stimulates the nervous system by your concentration on two disparate gripping methods. With this dual concentration, you capitalize on principles such as Over-Flow (Irradiation) through increased grip attention.

You can experiment with this protocol by grapping two Captains of Crush hand grippers (or Ironmind Snowballs) and doing joint range of motion exercises such as in my programs Warrior Wellness or Be Breathed. Keep your grip fierce but your shoulders light and mobile. In various sports such as Sambo, Judo and Jiu-jitsu, I have coached people with this technique to help them target and maximize tension while minimizing unnecessary generalized tension which interferes with skill performance. How many times I have seen a beginner attempt the most basic strike, takedown or submission with every muscle locked in tremendous tension. Even resistance training equipment requires a special protocol of "loose-tight-loose" through the course of the lift.

For instance, dumbbells and clubbells, clubbells and kettlebells, kettlebells and dumbbells, or any of these with one arm barbell exercises. Selective Tension can also include one-arm sandbags, medicine balls, rubber strands, shot-puts, or any other odd object with which you are already intimately skill-acquainted.

Many people in the Iron Game are familiar with Old-time Strongmen exercises such as Windmills and Two-hands Anyhow. A short ride to Selective Tension happens when you substitute two different pieces of equipment into one exercise: in these two exercises experiment with a clubbell torch or leverage hold on top position with a kettlebell on the bottom.

Some rather challenging sample exercises I can offer are the following:

  1. a forward clubbell pendulum with a lunge with a kettlebell cleaned in the opposite arm.
  2. a cleaned dumbbell into an outside clubbell pendulum with a side-step (towards the kettlebell).
  3. a dumbbell press with a clubbell arm-pit cast
  4. a dumbbell shoulder shrug with a clubbell head-cast
  5. a clubbell shoulder cast with a kettlebell curl

Remember that these are complex skills. Start with little to no weight and practice the technique. Place these technical lifts at the beginning of your session and train them for moderate intensity and moderate volume pre-fatigue. Consult Coach Ethan Reeve to make these extremely burly with the Wake Forest terror of Density Training.

My upcoming book entitled Selective Tension expands upon the strength and conditioning science behind it, as well as exercise selection, program design and sample programs.

Saddle up and obliterate that Iron,

Coach Sonnon