The MVC is an almost "magical" state of muscle contraction (it stands for Maximum Voluntary Contraction).
And to achieve it, you can use a bodyweight exercise technique called “The Red Onion”...
Unlike many heavy exercises that can damage joint cartilage or leave you feeling exhausted...this little-known isometric exercise method requires no movement and quickly boosts your overall strength.
You can do it at your desk at work, while you're watching TV or even at your bedside.
The "onion" part comes from learning how to sequentially contract different layers of muscle in your body (like the layers of an onion) until you build up to what is called an MVC (Maximum Voluntary Contraction) in the entire muscle.
And as I said above, this MVC is an almost "magical" state of muscle contraction.
You can't hold it for long, but it's an incredibly strong, powerful contraction that can actually build strength and muscle size even without external resistance.
The MVC happens when you recruit pretty much ALL of your fibers in the target muscle(s) at once, rather than just the minimum as needed at the moment, which is how your body recruits fibers with normal weight training...only enough to get the job done at the time.
Recruiting fibers a little bit at a time, however, is NOT the most efficient way to build strength.
Utilizing the "red onion" concept and MVC's are a phenomenal way to build strength fast...the more fibers you can recuit at once, the stronger you'll be.
This is one (big) way athletes get stronger without gaining muscle mass....they learn how to recruit a higher percentage of muscle fibers on a given movement.
And with MVC training, this improvement will happen FAST.
This technique is described in-depth in a program called "Isometrics Strength", created by my friend and colleague, Todd Kuslikis.
My Experience with MVC's
I've tested his isometrics methods and I've been extremely impressed. I've actually incorporated some of them into my own training. Because in order to do a lot of the crazy stuff that I do, I've had to learn how to activate pretty much EVERYTHING at once.
And honestly, once you've mastered the technique, it opens up a whole new world. You're capable of a whole new gear in your training.
Case in point, in the picture below, you'll see me doing a Zercher Carry with 400 lbs (using an EZ Curl Bar).
To accomplish this feat of carrying more than double my bodyweight in this fashion, I start by developing a solid MVC in my upper body to set the "base" for the weight. It takes me about 5-7 seconds to build up to it.
Then, while locking in that upper body contraction, I pick up the weight and carry it like a human forklift. Then it's a matter of getting the carry done as fast as I can before the contraction fades so much that it compromises body position.
It's incredibly demanding to the nervous system but it flat-out WORKS and, for me at least, allows me to do some pretty amazing (and crazy) stuff.
Learning how to develop this kind of contraction and isometric strength has been incredibly effective for me. I regularly use it to do loaded carries with 2, 3 and even 4 times my bodyweight.
It can be done on it's own as a full program or workout (as in Todd's Isometrics Strength program) or used as a training method to help develop specific strength for shoring up weak links in your other lifts.
It's a very effective method for getting more out of your training and for building strength and muscle without weights.
And just so you know up front, when you do pick up the Isometrics Strength program (that tells you how to perform MVC's and the "red onion" method, you'll also get a 14-day trial membership to Todd's "Feel Good Life Academy" site where you'll get a fantastic amount of information on health and fitness, If, at any time, you feel it's not for you, you can easily cancel, no questions asked, and never get charged an additional dime.
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