Why Isometric Exercises Belong in Your Exercise Routine

Posted by on November 3, 2015 in Exercise and Fitness, Health with 5 Comments

gal in plankBy Dr Josh Axe | DrAxe.com

Imagine if you could do effective exercises in only 10 seconds, anywhere, anytime … without any equipment. This is absolutely possible with isometric exercises, which are perfect for anyone who wants to tone muscles and gain strength in a way that doesn’t require impact or full range of motion. In other words, perhaps you’re recovering from an injury or are taking your first steps to getting into better shape, then isometric exercises make a lot of sense.

Isometric training is also valuable as a complement to HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) or any taxing workout routine, as it can improve joint strength, connective tissue and strength balance. Plus, these exercises can be done anywhere.

Related Article: 10 Ways to Make Time for Exercise Even When You Don’t Have Time

What Are Isometric Exercises?

A common method of muscular strength training, isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of exercise in which the joint angle and the muscle length do not change during contraction. In other words, these exercises are done in static positions while engaging specific muscles, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion. Unlike standard strength training, isometrics allows you the freedom to practice them anywhere without needing weights or special equipment.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines isometric exercises as static exercise that involves sustained contraction of skeletal muscles against fixed resistance and does not involve movement of the joints or axial skeleton. They go on to explain that no external work is performed, and regular performance of static exercise does not generally increase endurance. Classic examples of these types of exercises can include hand grips certain weightlifting moves. Also, movements in many competitive sports and daily activities also involve isometric exercise. (1)

Another example of isometric exercises that is very beneficial is power yoga. In the book, Yoga Exercises for Beginners: Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit, Increase Your Energy Levels, Feel Great and Lose Weight by Anton Devlin, Anton writes that isometric exercises are one of the best way to strengthen the core.

Guide to isometrics - Dr. Axe

Isometric, stemming from the words “same” and “length,” simply translate to holding one position without moving. Power yoga uses isometric exercises along with numerous other postures that are designed to strengthen the core and back. Because flexibility, balance and power stem from your core, it’s imperative to train this area of the body. While most yoga classes encompass isometric exercises, the power yoga style focus more on core work and the temperature in the room is typically warmer to help keep the muscles warm and release additional toxins from the body. (2)

The Journal of Sports Science published an abstract by author J.P. Holland regarding studies of the differences between isometric and dynamic strength training (3). He states that strength training with isometric contractions produces large but highly angle-specific adaptations.

The study compared the strength gains produced by isometric training at four joint angles with conventional dynamic training. Thirty-three recreationally active healthy males aged 18–30 years completed nine weeks of strength training of the quadriceps muscle group three times per week. One leg performed isometric training at each of four joint angles and the other leg performed conventional dynamic training by lifting and lowering. Both legs trained at similar relative loads for the same duration.

The quadriceps strength of each leg was measured isometrically (at four angles) and isokinetically (at three velocities) before and after training. After nine weeks of training, the increase in isokinetic strength was similar in both legs; however, the isometric strength increases were significantly greater for the isometrically trained leg. The good news is that the study shows that isometric exercises are very beneficial, especially for those that prefer a no impact workout.

Related Article: How Much Exercise Is Just Right: 8 Risks of Overtraining

How to Perform Isometric Exercises

To perform an isometric exercise, you want to use a muscle or limb to oppose the opposite one. You can achieve this same effect by pushing or pulling against any immovable object such as a wall, holding a firm medium-to-large sized ball with your hands and pressing inward towards the ball or even by holding a flexed muscle in a stationary position. The idea is to use your muscles to build strength by exerting as much force as possible against the resistance for a minimum of 10 seconds.

The most effective way to use isometrics is to incorporate it into a larger strength-training program, such as our Burst training or a kettlebell workout. While isometric exercise offers great benefits, it is important to understand the limitations. Each isometric contraction only increases muscular strength in the exact position you are engaging, versus a large muscle group.

For this reason, you will need to perform various isometric exercises to help strengthen various muscles, rather than using a compound exercise that can work multiple muscles — think the squat exercise vs. a static squat. This is why it is best to think about isometrics as a complement to your weight training or burst training rather than a replacement.

Let’s look at it another way: The entire muscle isn’t being strengthened, but rather a part of it. This is because your muscles do not change length during isometric exercises in the same way they do when you lift a weight. You can improve the effects of the workout by doing any isometric exercise in three different positions. Essentially, tense the muscle near the bottom of the movement, the middle and the top of the movement.

A great example is with the biceps. When you are doing bicep curls, the bottom means with the arm fully extended; the middle means with the elbow at an angle near 90 degrees; and the top means with your hand near your shoulder; each holding for at least 10 seconds. You can do this without weights simply by tensing the muscle at each point.


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  2. 846414435380494@facebook.com' Revolution de Mind says:

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  3. 10153317171779611@facebook.com' Heidi Kohz says:

    link is broken

  4. Anonymous says:

    404 Error … Page Not Found.

  5. 1516272295363632@facebook.com' Alfred Koh says:

    Excercise without motion. Sorry for the silly question

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