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Introducing the Isochain McKean Curl (IMc)

Isochain McKean Curl

"Hey, Dad," asked my 41-year-old son and lifetime training partner, "from your time working as the International General Secretary of the I.A.W.A., do you recall, off hand, the world record in the CHEAT CURL?"

Sort of taken by surprise with questioning about such a seldom-trained lift these days, I responded, "Oh, no individual on our record sheets had officially done much more than 100 kilos back then. Why do you ask?"

"Well," grinned Rob, "I just registered 307.8 pounds with my own "whole body" curl version on our Isochain!"

That rocketed me right out of my nearby computer chair, as I just had to eyeball that astounding screen number myself! With the pride of a father and satisfaction of our obviously-successful "old school" training program, I was completely confident in the Isochain's "report," and knew, from ever-growing experience, that it was absolutely accurate! However, my main question concerned the lift form involved — after all, one cannot "cheat," as such, on the Isochain — no speed, acceleration, nor momentum is permitted with those pure isometrics.

Let's allow Rob to describe his unique power curling procedure:

"Originally, I was training the Isochain curl with strict form and straight legs from the lower 1/3 position for my 6 seconds holds (2 or 3 sets). Then, about 4 weeks ago it came to me that I didn't have to adjust my chain hookup position from my first exercise, the good old "hand and thigh." So I leaned over slightly, and bent my legs just a bit to get under the bar. I held that handle out from my body in standard curl position (wide hand spacing), maybe just a hair less than the 1/3 beginning start, or what I deemed as possibly the weakest position in a curl. Using the combined force of my arms AND my legs, I progress to trying to straighten my thighs completely while holding onto the bicep "lock" even more intensely."

"At the start of the lift," Rob continued," the first few seconds have the biceps literally feeling like they're crawling through my skin, then it gets worse! As the legs slowly straighten, and the arms — though fiercely resisting — are pulled down an inch or two, the pain shifts right to the meaty portion of the forearms. Veins that I didn't realize I had started to roadmap all over the place! All the while, my legs are wildly quivering from intense effort, perceiving a tremendous amount of work, yet I can also really feel extreme tension from pulling by the lats and traps. I'm thinkin' this ‘IMc,’ as I call it, is about as close to a total body exercise as you'll ever find! And now just ONE six-second set fries me!"

Witnessing my son's performance and astonishingly rapid gains on his curl, I have to consider that he has discovered a way to actually employ NEGATIVE RESISTANCE within his iso curl! Though never fully exploited, several top dogs used this principle with great success during the 60s and 70s. Perhaps the Isochain can allow forms of negatives to be ever so much more effective!

Rob was extremely pleased with his initial experiments when he soon reached 227 pounds on the digital readout. But he made a serious mistake….

My curious 15-year-old grandson was watching, and desperately wanted to learn this exciting new lift. Though young, Andraes has worked the Isochain on and off since we first acquired one in mid-summer. He has also previously set World & National preteen records in the cheat curl for the IAWA, and inherited the same genetically-powerful ligaments and thick bones that Rob has (from Grandma, not me!!)

So the not-so-little 9th grader (thicker and heavier than any family member at 215 pounds) followed Uncle Rob's exacting instructions, and, as youngsters will do, really pulled all out for 6 seconds. He hit 238; Rob was flabbergasted! So, inspired, on his next workout Rob soared to 275 and it spiraled upward from there. This morning in explaining procedure to me, Rob demo'd a well-fought 315 pound Isochain McKean curl!!

Two lessons from the above paragraph. First: partnering up (rivalry!) can mentally fuel immense and fast gains on big, total body Isochain lifts. Secondly, for some who question the intense training of youngsters with this device, have no worries — our youth are tougher and more imaginative than we know!
Andraes McKean, age 15, tries the Isochain McKean Curl
Isochain McKean Curl Positions
(Notes on the images above: The first image is the starting position of 15 year old Dra's curl with wider hand grip on the Isochain handle, legs bent, and maintaining a bottom 1/3 hold on a curl. The second image displays the slight upward movement of the thighs, providing even more pressure on the biceps and forearms. In the third image, the 215lb. Jr. High student is at the top position of the lift, with his arms forced downward by leg pressure, yielding an intense "negative" movement via Isochain.)

I've believed ever since my first workout with the Isochain that a slew of new exercises would develop by the very nature of this new beast. Rob's revolutionary curl probably isn't the first exclusive Isochain movement, yet certainly won't be the last! So I'll encourage all members of our growing IC fraternity, to experiment, think, and test; but, by all means, SHARE your acquired knowledge!

Rob voiced one final question, "But when will I get those 20" arms that I read about?!"

My reply, "As soon as you reach double bodyweight on your IMc!"

Rob once again: "Oh, next week then?"

John McKean has won multiple local, state, national powerlifting titles, Masters Olympic national titles, and national and world all-round titles during the past 50 years. He has written extensively for all major strength magazines starting with Strength & Health under John Grimek and was featured in Dr. Len Schwartz's famous book Heavyhands Walking. A certified instructor in flex band training and American Combatives, Mr. McKean offers his consulting services at