Isometric Strength Training

Isometric Strength Training

In this section you will learn about isometric strength and find some exercises. Isometric or static strength training is an exercise form where no motion is involved. The muscle is contracted statically, but there is no movement at the joint. Isometric strength exercises can be used for strength conditioning and rehabilitation after joint injuries. (the muscles can be trained without stressing the joints) Isometric strength exercises are suitable for: Climbers, gymnasts (especially for the rings) wrestlers, people who are recovering from a joint injury etc. Find more track & field related topics at track and field main and strength training related instructions at weight training main.

Description: Isometric Strength Training

  • Basically there are 2 different forms of isometric strength training:
    Isometric strength training with maximal muscle contraction and isometric strength training with sub-maximal (for example 30 percent) muscle contraction.
    1. Isometric strength training with sub-maximal muscle contraction:
      That's when an isometric exercise is held for more then 10 seconds and the resistance is very low.
      Advantage: Good for the joints, good for your endurance.
      Disadvantage: Less strength development.
      Suitable for: People who are recovering from an injury or athletes who want to increase their endurance in a specific position.
    2. Isometric strength training with maximal contraction. That's when you hold a contraction at 100 percent of your strength. For example pressing your hands against each other as hard as you can, is an isometric chest exercise with maximal muscle contraction.
      Advantage: Better strength development.
      Disadvantage: More stress on joints and posture.
      Suitable for: gymnastics, wrestling, martial arts.
  • Secondly you have to know that when you apply an isometric strength exercise, the strength is only trained at the angle where you apply the exercise. So if you stand on one leg with the knee bent 90 degrees, you will only develop strength in this position. However, generally, isometric strength exercises with the limb more extended are more effective than exercises where your limb is more bent. Some exercises are made for maximal contraction and others are made for long but less intensive contractions. In this section I will break down isometric exercises into 5 categories:
    • Isometric presses: For example when you press your hands together or try to lift
      something immobile. (press against a wall etc.)
    • Isometric body positions: For example when you hold a push-up position, a chin-up or a horse stance. The time you can resist depends on your body weight.
    • Isometric weight positions: You hold a weight at a specific angle. For example when you hold a dumbbell in front of your stomach.
    • Isometric hold: You hold a limb at a specific angle. For example do a side kick and try to hold your leg as high as possible in the air. Give up after 5 to 10 seconds.
    • Impossible contraction: You try to do one repetition of an exercise you are not strong enough for. This can be lift or a body weight exercise. You give up after 5 to 10 seconds, so that your attempt turned out to be just an isometric exercise (instead of a repetition).

Exercises: Isometric Strength Training

  • Coming soon

Trainer advice: Isometric Strength Training

  • Best strength development can be achieved when you hold the isometric contraction for 5 to 10 seconds. Some exercises are even held for 3 minutes or even longer. For example in traditional wushu, horse stances are held for 3 to 15 minutes. For short contractions it's recommended to do 15 sets of different exercises and hold each exercise for 5 to 10 seconds. Rest 1 to 3 minutes between sets and exercises. Do isometric strength training no more than 3 times per week.
  • People with a cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure should avoid isometric strength exercises and especially those with maximal muscle contraction.
    Reason: Isometric strength exercises increase the blood pressure. The shorter and more intensive the contraction, the more pressure increase.
  • It's very important that you keep taking deep breaths during isometric exercises. Pressing air (most common mistake) increases blood pressure.
  • If you suffer joint problems, avoid short exercises with 100% contractions.

Videos: Isometric Strength Training

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