Place your right wrist over your left wrist, thumbs upwards. Press down as hard as you can with your right while resisting with your left. Feel the contraction up through your arms, shoulders, and chest. Repeat at different heights for each arm, or release just enough tension in one arm so that you can move it through a full range of motion, all the while exhaling for 7-12 seconds. Do a few of those and tell me you aren't starting to feel it. This is one of the main ways, apparently, that old school bodybuilders like Charles Atlas and Eugen Sandow trained.
Can anyone tell me why this is a waste of time, and why it won't make me stronger or bigger? Why a 30 pound dumbbell is different from 30 pounds of resistance from my other arm?
What you describe sounds like an isometric contraction protocol. Instead of having a fixed joint angle, like your elbow in your example, you could also move your arm through and entire bicep curl while resisting with the other arm. That is a self resistance exercise as opposed to an isometric contraction. Charles Atlas used bodyweight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, squads) and self resistance exercises. He actually did not use isometrics.
Swoboda was also a huge supporter of self resistance.
Reminds me of an exercise my sister had me try.
Plant both feet firmly on the floor, about hip-width apart or just a bit wider. Now with all your might try to pull your feet together. Obviously you're not moving them, but it works every muscle from your feet to your butt. It's pretty cool. I sometimes remember to do it when I'm standing at the polisher or tester at work.
This is good. This is encouraging. I am, after all, a cheap man.
I have no fancy sciency basis for saying this other than "hey, sounds plausible" but doing self-resistance exercises as you describe in the OP presumably has the bonus of giving both arms the workout, as opposed to doing a curl on one side with a weight... maybe involves more muscle groups too...
Don't get TOO encouraged, you have to stay grumpy, Grumpy!
I like it in theory, but imagine it would be mentally very demanding to push yourself as hard as you'd need to in order to make significant gains with this training method.
I say you train this way for 6-8 weeks and report back on your findings.
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."
"You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."
My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com
Al is absolutely correct about the difficulty of getting the mind to provide enough resistance. Proponents of these self resistance methods refer to this as the "mind-muscle" connection and the true root of strength. I've heard them talk abou tales of super human strength in times of crisis and how that's just the mind throwing off what it thought was possible and just doing what needs to be done.
I've dabbled in this area a bit and can get a very solid workout from it, though I still hit weights to change modalities and keep interest. I can say that it does take a bit of practice to "get" it and you probably will struggle at first.
i find that moving my body against gravity in different ways does a fair bit to build strength. i really like the book Body Weight Exercises for Extraordinary Strength by Brad Johnson. a lot of the pictures look like Al_K's there.
I also like yoga. Most of these things are just various body weight exercises. You can see me building some strength and flexibility as i do Dragonfly Pose in this video blog.
So, it is an inexpensive way to exercise. I also like the efficiency of parkour and freerunning. I separated them out because they are two distinct philosophies, but come from the same history.
What i like about all of these is that they do not require any equipment real equipment. most of what you need to work can be found in a playground, and in the case of yoga, just on your floor. I suppose all you really need for yoga is a level space.