Samara Donald is: The Gym Coach

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Build strength with isometrics

An isometric exercise is a great way to build strength, mass and stamina. What is it? Isometric Exercise is defined as “Exercise performed by the exertion of effort against a resistance that strengthens and tones the muscle without changing the length of the muscle fibers.” (The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary). In laymen’s terms, this means there’s no movement as in standard exercises.

Yoga uses isometrics extensively; other examples would be holding a weight in a contracted bicep curl for a short period of time, holding a squat, or, pushing an immoveable object (like simulating pushing a door). What’s great about isometric exercises is you can get a big result using only your body weight (think – workout for travel!).

Here are some great isometric exercises to try:

1)      “Work-in” – Following a regular set of 10-12 bicep curls, end with a 15 second hold of the bicep curl contraction (at the mid-point or 90 degree angle). You can try this with nearly any exercise.

2)      Body weight squat hold – With feet about 2” apart, sink into a squat (this is a “chair pose” in yoga) and hold for 30 seconds – repeat.

3)      Shoulder isometric hold with elastic band – grab an elastic band with both hands, so that the band is lose when arms are at your sides. Raise arms, straight out, to chest height – then pull the band out with both arms as far as you can, and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Other benefits of isometric exercises:

  • Isometrics use nearly all the muscle fibers – something that doesn’t happen with regular eccentric and concentric (down and up) repetitions, which enhances strength.
  • Isometrics cause an immediate increase in subsequent muscle activation work as well, meaning you’ll have a carryover of strength into your next set.
  • Isometrics concentrate on stress of the muscle vs the tendons and fascia, so you have less risk of strain.

Caution!  Isometrics cause a spike in blood pressure, so they are not recommended for those with high blood pressure.


One comment on “Build strength with isometrics

    January 29, 2010

    This is great for that extra tone that we all want!! Yoga does a great job of this! I work out to Gilad on Fit Tv sometimes and he does a great job of holding squats and lunges and bicep curls and so much more! Thanks for sharing!

    Jen 🙂

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2010 by in Exercises, fitness plan, workout.
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