Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Training Terminology: Isometric Exercise

Exercises fall into three categories: Isometric, Isotonic, and Isokinetic. Today we'll discuss isometric exercises.

Isometric exercises are done without movement. You place the body into a certain joint angle, either against an immovable object or just body tension, and do not change that angle for the duration of the exercise.

Some examples of isometric exercises are:

- The plank.
- The wall sit.
- The wall push - two hands against the wall, push as if you're going to shove the wall away from you.
- Barbell press against pins - you push a loaded barbell against a pair of pins, ensuring it won't move. The weight of the barbell ensures you must exert a minimum amount of force to keep it in place.

What are the benefits? Isometric exercises have been shown to increase strength and endurance in the muscles utilized. However, and this is their primary weakness, they do not improve strength across a wide range of motion. Your strength increases primarily affect the joint angle you are in, plus approximately 15 degrees in either direction.

It's also hard to load some isometric exercises. You can weight a plank with a vest, but you can't find a wall that's harder to push away for a wall push.

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