W.O.W. 10/06/12-The RenEx Conference, Statics, and “Fat Tails”

I did the following WOW at the RenEx convention.  The workout was predominantly done on their static equipment with visual feedback.

Static Pullover followed immediately by Static Pulldown (their iPO/PD machine)

Dynamic RenEx Overhead Press (no end-stop technique, just perfect/continuous turnarounds)

Static Compound Row

Static Leg Press

I have been incorporating some static work in my workouts at UE and have been impressed with their effect.  The addition of visual feedback really takes this to another level.  The technique involves a very slow upload of force to a target window of force (as opposed to a steady climb to maximal output).  You then hold that steady window until your force output begins to drop (i.e. failure).  Once your force begins to drop, it essentially falls into an abyss of inroad.  Interestingly force and effort seem to track on a one-to-one basis up until this point.  Once force begins its rapid drop, your perceived effort becomes its reciprocal.  In other words, as your force falls through the floor, your effort seems to go through the ceiling…the harder you try, the more your force output seems to plummet.  With my very limited experience with their equipment, I am not certain whether the static machines are going to supplant regular dynamic equipment or if they are the key to using dynamic equipment properly.  Here are some of my observations:

-Exposure to the static iMachines has finally taught me how I should behave at the moment of failure.  Rather than summoning all effort to attempt to complete the rep, you should summon all effort to produce this dissociation between effort and force.

-A very gradual upload of force is the key to an effective static set and is also the key to a perfectly performed and effective dynamic set.  Once you can see this with visual feedback you will really understand and be able to apply this on any equipment (0r no equipment).

-With visual feedback you can see that a gradual upload of force is permissive for producing the most output of force.  When you do “fail” and begin to see the drop-off in your level of force, the drop-off will essentially be a mirror image of your upload.  It seems as if your are sequentially plugging in motor units in the upload and then you are unplugging them in reverse order during the drop-off.  This is very strange, because you realize that you probably could never reproduce this offload deliberately in a non-fatigued state, but in the throws of blinding effort and pain, the curve could essentially be folded over on itself and it would match as if you had traced it.

-While doing statics with visual feedback, you come to understand how many opportunities there are to “hide” and seek respite during a dynamic movement.  The static provides a benchmark of discipline during dynamic exercise that will be very hard (if not impossible) to match.

-I went in doubting that work without movement would not produce much of a muscular pump.  The exact opposite was true.  The pump was skin-popping and severe.  I don’t remember having such a severe pump with any dynamic protocol.

-The metabolic effect of the workout was every bit as severe as a dynamic workout.  However, the systemic effect on recovery the next day seemed significantly less.

The weekend itself was incredibly enjoyable.  The RenEx team got some criticism on the internet about the 50 attendee limit (implying this is all they could ever hope to attract).  There  were actually 57 paid attendees and 15 guests, and this actually seemed to be about the limit that could be handled.  The size kept the event very intimate.  Everyone got to talk with everyone, and the RenEx staff was able to give each attendee the individual attention that they deserved.  For me the most interesting part of the weekend was Josh Trentine’s talk on the use of RenEx protocol in training the competitive natural bodybuilder.  Josh had a 48 year old trainee that happened to be competing on the same Saturday as our meeting.  This individual (sorry, I forget his name) was kind enough to drop by between the pre-judging and the evening show to do a brief guest-pose for the RenEx conference.  All in attendance were impressed.  I was amazed at the visual impact and illusion of this gentleman’s condition…he seemed to gain 40lbs of mass when he took off his sweat pants and T-shirt.  Anyone that has any doubts that HIT or the RenEx protocol can produce a competitive physique can rest assured that it is indeed possible.  Josh also showed numerous before-and-after photos of his pupils.  The RenEx team has been reluctant to draw much attention to their bodybuilding success because they  are trying to avoid the image of “Bro Science” that seems to be attached to bodybuilding.  I expressed to them that I think this is an unfounded fear.  Even the most sophisticated researchers in this area are likely closet bodybuilders and would love to see this kind of results.  The overall opinion was that the effectiveness of the protocol is probably best demonstrated in the “fat-tails” of the training population….the 1.25% on either end of the bell curve…the very debilitated and the competitive bodybuilder can really show what can be done better than those “in the middle”.  For those that are curious, here are the routines used by Josh’s pupils who are competitive physique athletes.

Workout A- Calf Exercise, Leg Press (dynamic or static), Pulldown (dynamic or static), Ventral Torso

Workout B- Bicep (dynamic or static), Pulldown (dynamic or static), Triceps (dynamic or static), Ventral Torso, Compound Row (dynamic or static), Pushup, Squat Position Leg Press

Workout C- Leg Curl (dynamic or static), Leg Extension (dynamic or static), Simple Row-aka rowing torso or reverse fly (dynamic or static), Compound Row (dynamic or static), Overhead Press.

The workouts are done on a rotating basis, and most trainees do them 2 days a week.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts

224 thoughts on “W.O.W. 10/06/12-The RenEx Conference, Statics, and “Fat Tails””

  1. Ondrej,

    “I suppose it’s the best to first go for muscle potential and then be concerned about leaning out much later, but I’m not sure.”

    This is the right answer…The only way i would say different is if one insisted in doing some kind of physique competition….those conditions can sometimes provoke a person to a new level….they can also defeat a person too… not to mention potential “metabolic damage”

    Just fyi, i didn’t have any appreciable muscle til age 32 or 33….resembling what i have now and i started working out at 14.

  2. Ad,

    I finally got to your question over on RenEx….getting caught up over there after a long week!


  3. WOW

    Smith Machine Calves
    Nautilus Deadlift ss/w
    Nautilus Nitro Leg Press
    Nautilus Super Pullover
    Nautilus 10 flye

    Tot 19 min


  4. Great Thread!

    Thanks to Josh, Joe, Brian, Thomas and many others who have made some real good positive contributions in the past few days, and have remained professional in light of a few that would like to drag them into the trenches.
    My momma always used to say…”stay on the high road”

  5. @Josh

    “Just fyi, i didn’t have any appreciable muscle til age 32 or 33….resembling what i have now and i started working out at 14.”

    Interesting. How did you train between 14 and 32? (I’m largely unfamiliar with your history).

  6. @Josh


    For millions of years man also didn’t put barbells at various points across his body, he didn’t leg press. He certainly didn’t have motors pulling on him while he resisted and he didn’t even drive a car…Oh, and he certainly didn’t exercise.

    So what?

    For all practical purposes exercise is brand new, never in history could a man change or alter his appearance and function or rehabilitate injury as he can now and most, if not all, of the behaviors that illicit the type of adaptation we want run opposite to our instinctual behaviors, activities of daily living, and of course ambulation.”


    I’m well aware of the things mentioned here Josh (in fact, I’ve blogged about them).

    My point is two fold : yes, exercise is new.

    Two, anatomy and bio-mechanics are not.

    They are literally as old as the human body itself.

    The great thing about Bill DeSimone’s work is that he always starts in the right place, the most fundamental level possible without leaving the context of exercise.


    Most machine designs seems to be the cart before the horse.

    Build the machine, figure out later if it’s congruent or not.

    Obviously the RenEx machines have a “little” more thought in them, but, I think the leg extension is an example of where the thinking may not have run deep enough.

    Sure you can build a “good” leg extension machine. Sure you can achieve the adaptations you want from it — you have yourself.

    But the question no one seems to be asking is if loading the knee through the shin is appropriate in the first place, acutely as well as cumulatively over time.

    There are other concerns as well … ie why is the knee loaded at full extension.

    Is there a purpose to this, or is it a relic of being limited to gravity based machines?

  7. Anthony,

    No time to answer tonight, but I’ll give you a clue and maybe you can find the answer?

    “Is there a purpose to this”

    The purpose is the same as a biceps Curl, a Triceps Extension, a Leg Curl, Nautilus Pullover, a Rowing Torso, a lateral raise or Hip Abd and Adduction machines….

    Question for you…with any mode of resistance how do we effectively load the last 15 to 20 Degrees of a Leg Press OR Belt Squat?

    What is the Range of motion for effectively recruiting the VMO that has been shut down? what if it’s atrophied? what if we’ve lost communication?

    And IF straightening your knee when performing Leg Ext is “bad” then what about “quad sets”….what about quad sets with straight leg raise…what about surface EMG biofeedback for neuromuscular re-education of the Vastus Medialis with the knee straight? here is a good one, what about using Russian E-Stim on the quads in a straight Leg position when someone can’t control their quads post-op or post stroke? Are these also “dangerous”?

    oh…how about one last question, do you know what our leg ext even does as you extend the knee?

    in the time i wrote that i prob could have just answered….well it’s a good exercise for you….good luck!


  8. Ed,

    Thank You! I’m not sure I always take the high road…may end up on the middle road a little bit….trying my best not to go on the low road.:-)


  9. @Josh

    “Question for you…with any mode of resistance how do we effectively load the last 15 to 20 Degrees of a Leg Press OR Belt Squat?”


    Funny you mention this, because when resistance is user generated for a leg extension, there is ZERO resistance at full knee extension.

    When the knees lock out, the resistance as applied by the machine, drops to 0.

    So if we enter the twilight zone for a second and assume that gravity based equipment is a thing of the past, and motorized resistance is a dramatic step forward – there is no reason to load the knees at full extension, for this exercise.

    And with superior motorized equipment that operates largely independent of gravity, when the quads have no where left to contract (the knee is done extending) … the resistance goes bye bye, along with most of the internal pressure.

    Maybe you should take a look at Bill DeSimone’s walnut cracker demo Josh. It looks a hell of a lot like a knee loaded in a leg extension …

  10. Josh,

    Sorry to harp, I’m sure you’re snowed but if you get a moment I would be really interested in your response re my questions in posts 16 & 17 previous page.

    Many thanks Brian

  11. Dr. McGuff,

    Given your recent experience with both the latest and greatest “motorized equipment” and associated protocol, and the latest and greatest “gravity based equipment” and associated protocol, perhaps you would consider a future post further reflecting on the merits of each (both from an equipment and a protocol perspective), and what impact these differing approaches may or may not have on your training as you move forward.

    I think this perspective would not only further inform the on-going debate, but an open opinion from one who is so respected in this weird little community would further push the respective camps as they continue to innovate and refine their equipment and protocol.

  12. @Tom

    As far as I’m aware there is no associated protocol for motorized equipment, at least not for ARX equipment.

    They strictly and explicitly just build the machines. The user is free to use them, or mis-use them as they so desire.

    That said you can perform …

    Positive only
    fast positive only
    Super slow positive only
    ultra slow positive only
    Negative only
    fast negative only
    super slow negative only
    ultra slow negative only
    hyper reps
    fast hyper reps
    slow hyper reps
    Super Slow hyper reps
    Ultra slow hyper reps
    j reps
    rest pause (on any of the above)
    Max contraction
    Max pyramid

    And on … and on … and on down the line.

    None of which allow for any momentum (there is no weight to build momentum with).

  13. “when resistance is user generated for a leg extension, there is ZERO resistance at full knee extension.

    When the knees lock out, the resistance as applied by the machine, drops to 0.”

    Anthony you are failing the exam…study harder.


  14. Brian F,

    No bother at all, thanks for the reminder.I just haven’t had time to go back and read your question or publish any comments that require more that 10 seconds of thought.


  15. External resistance (leg extension) going to zero at knee lockout doesn’t sound correct. In fact, it cant be correct. Otherwise, you could hold a litteral ton of weight easily in the locked out position where you couldn’t possibly move it a centimeter otherwise.

  16. Thomas,

    It’s not correct.

    People should be more cautious when parroting information.


  17. “Josh,

    A couple of questions I have re the protocol;

    With dynamic training I almost never let out guttural noise, TSC so far I cannot stop it.

    The shaking thing. This can be quite a distraction, on my pec squeeze I wasn’t 100% sure if I terminated due to inroad or the significant level of shakes

    Have the above issues been something you’ve needed to address?”



    The shaking is unavoidable, although when it’s reaching the point of being disruptive it’s also likely that the set is terminating. I do think choice of apparatus and joint angles can improve the stability significantly.

    The guttural noises are a clear indication that when you reached that point in the exercise (“where the good stuff starts”) you most definitely created a momentary respite in loading. There is a dissociation… as your strength begins to fall off precipitously…. you are panicking, and your instincts are giving you an out to avoid further inroading.

    The best advice I can give is to breathe more as you anticipate this happening. Pay careful attention to you face, eyes, hands and jaw…as tension increases around those areas, it is likely the ValSalva is coming right behind it.

    This is tough because we’re trying to dupe the body’s protective mechanisms in order to provide the greatest stimuli from that set. As Doug says “your body doesn’t know if you’re doing TSC Arm Cross or running from a bear”, all your body knows is that your strength is rapidly dropping to debilitated levels and it’s going to do anything it can to brace up and absorb, rather the inroad any deeper.

    The computer feedback has been very helpful in getting people past this because they become instantly and immediately aware that the discrepancy has occurred and when you can correlate spikes then dips in the graph it is clear that rate and frequency of respiration must increase to keep the line flat and accumulate more inroad.

    The really cool thing is that when the subject learns to communicate with their muscle via TSC and increase the rate and frequency of respiration throughout the inroading process, they will be able to perform dynamic protocols with greater effectiveness.

    Doug explains this when he mentions that training on really good equipment or having another tier of feedback helps you identify where the discrepancies begin and how to correct them rather than things just getting glossed over, hidden or blocked by more conventional equipment.

    sorry if there are typos…almost 2am here in Cleveland.


  18. Josh

    Thanks so much for the detailed response, makes this whole area of inroad, physiological response, conscious and unconscious a lot clearer. As has been discussed before there are many factors involved in “getting it”

    The respite in loading you refer to is correct as e.g. on the platform belt TSC this was the very challenging point where I was trying to keep the slack out of the system.

    I will take on board your advice… using this protocol without a trainer or visual feed back requires a ton of discipline / stoicism

    Cheers Brian

  19. @Joshua


    Anthony you are failing the exam…study harder.



    Hey guess what buddy.

    I’ve actually seen video of a properly designed motorized leg extension.

    And surprise, at full extension, the resistance is ZERO.

    Do you even understand why?

  20. Anthony

    I knew more about this subject 15 years ago than you’ll ever know.

    I might blog you behind the wood shed soon here.

    Dude, you keep jumping out of your league, it’s so annoying.

    Once you figure out what our Leg Ext does you can be sure that we’re aware of all of the factors involved.

    many, many, many years ahead of anything you think you know.


  21. Joshua Trentine says:
    October 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    You don’t even have enough information to develop the right questions….

    Same old Josh Trentine.


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