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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.

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One comment on “Build strength with isometrics

  1. Jen-JensFitnessTips.com
    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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