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Hold On, It’s Isometric Time

posted on June 6, 2024

Isometrically hold onto your butts, team. Before you read this blog, I’d like you to hunker down into a plank or wall-sit and see if you can hold that position while you get your learn on. 3…2..1..begin! 


Isometric exercises are strength-training movements where the muscle length and joint angle remain constant during contraction. Rather than moving through a range of motion, as in isotonic exercises (like bicep curls or squats), isometric exercises involve static contractions, where the muscle generates force without changing length. Common examples include planks, wall sits, and static holds. 


The importance of employing isometric exercises for activities of daily living lies in their ability to strengthen muscles in specific joint angles and positions that mimic real-life situations. Many daily tasks, such as lifting groceries, pushing doors, or even maintaining posture while sitting, require muscles to contract without significant movement. By training muscles isometrically, individuals can improve their ability to perform these tasks efficiently and with reduced risk of injury. 


In sports training, isometric exercises can be invaluable for enhancing performance in specific movements or positions relevant to the sport. For instance, a basketball player can benefit from isometric exercises that mimic the defensive stance, helping to build strength and stability in that position. Similarly, a golfer might employ isometric exercises to strengthen the muscles involved in the golf swing. 


Research supports the efficacy of isometric exercises for both general fitness and sports performance. A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2017 found that isometric training improved strength gains comparable to “traditional” isotonic training. Another study in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology” demonstrated that isometric training increased muscle strength and neural activation. 


To add isometric exercises into a training regimen, one can focus on holding specific positions for a set amount of time, typically ranging from 10 to 60 seconds, depending on the individual’s strength and goals. These exercises can be integrated into a workout routine alongside dynamic movements for a well-rounded approach to strength training. 


The adaptation benefits from implementing isometric exercises include: 

  1. Increased Strength: Isometric exercises target specific joint angles, leading to strength gains in those positions, which can translate to improved performance in various activities. 
  1. Improved Stability and Joint Health: By strengthening muscles around joints, isometric exercises can enhance stability and reduce the risk of injuries, particularly in movements that involve sudden changes in direction or impact. 
  1. Neuromuscular Efficiency: Isometric training can improve the coordination between muscles and the nervous system, leading to more efficient movement patterns and better overall performance. 
  1. Time Efficiency: Isometric exercises can be performed almost anywhere without the need for equipment, making them a convenient option for individuals with busy schedules or limited access to a gym. 


The theory of yielding and overcoming isometrics refers to two distinct approaches to performing isometric exercises, each with its own characteristics and benefits: 

  1. Yielding Isometrics: 

Yielding isometrics involve applying force against an immovable object or resistance until muscle fatigue or failure. In this type of isometric exercise, the muscle contracts and exerts force, but there is no movement at the joint. The muscle length remains constant throughout the contraction. 


For example, holding a plank position is a yielding isometric exercise because you are exerting force against gravity to maintain the position, but there is no movement occurring at the joints. 


Benefits of yielding isometrics include: 

  • Improved muscular endurance: Holding a position for an extended period challenges the muscles to maintain force output over time. 
  • Increased time under tension: This can lead to muscle hypertrophy (growth) and strength gains. 
  • Enhanced joint stability: Holding static positions can help improve stability around joints, reducing the risk of injury. 


  1. Overcoming Isometrics: 

Overcoming isometrics involve exerting maximal force against an immovable object or resistance for a brief duration. In this type of isometric exercise, the muscle attempts to move an object that cannot be moved, resulting in maximal contraction without joint movement. 


For example, pushing against a wall with maximal effort without it moving is an overcoming isometric exercise. 


Benefits of overcoming isometrics include: 

  • Maximal strength development: By exerting maximum force against resistance, the muscle recruits a high number of motor units, leading to strength gains. 
  • Improved neuromuscular coordination: Overcoming isometrics require the activation of motor units in a coordinated manner, leading to improved muscle recruitment patterns. 
  • Enhanced power output: Developing maximal strength can contribute to improved power production, which is beneficial for explosive movements in sports and daily activities. 


Both yielding and overcoming isometrics have their place in a comprehensive training program. Yielding isometrics are often used for muscular endurance and stability, while overcoming isometrics are more focused on maximal strength and power development. Integrating both types of isometric exercises into a training routine can lead to well-rounded improvements in strength, endurance, and functional performance. 


Yielding Isometrics: 

  1. Plank Hold: 
  • Example: Hold a plank position for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Muscular Endurance: Holding the plank challenges the core muscles to maintain contraction over time, improving endurance. 
  • Joint Stability: Engages stabilizing muscles around the spine, hips, and shoulders, enhancing joint stability and reducing the risk of injury. 
  • Postural Strength: Reinforces proper alignment and posture, which is beneficial for daily activities and preventing back pain. 


  1. Wall Sit: 
  • Example: Hold a seated position against a wall for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Lower Body Endurance: Strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, improving lower body endurance and stamina. 
  • Functional Strength: Mimics the static position required for activities like squatting, sitting, or standing for extended periods. 
  • Joint Stability: Enhances stability around the knee and hip joints, promoting injury prevention and improved movement mechanics. 


Overcoming Isometrics: 

  1. Pushing Against an Immovable Object: 
  • Example: Push against a solid wall with maximal effort for 5-10 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Maximal Strength Development: Engages high-threshold motor units to generate maximum force, leading to strength gains. 
  • Neural Adaptations: Stimulates neural pathways responsible for muscle recruitment and coordination, improving overall strength and power output. 
  • Plateau Breaking: Overcoming sticking points in traditional lifts by strengthening specific joint angles and positions. 
  1. Isometric Deadlift Hold: 
  • Example: Set up in the starting position of a deadlift with a loaded barbell, but do not lift it off the ground; instead, push against the bar with maximal effort for 5-10 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Strength Development: Targets the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, improving overall strength and power in the deadlift movement pattern. 
  • Grip Strength: Builds grip strength and endurance necessary for holding heavy loads during deadlifts and other pulling exercises. 
  • Injury Prevention: Reinforces proper lifting mechanics and posture, reducing the risk of lower back injuries during deadlifts and other lifting activities. 


By incorporating both yielding and overcoming isometric exercises into a training routine, individuals can target different aspects of muscular adaptation, including endurance, strength, stability, and power. These exercises offer functional benefits that translate to improved performance in sports, daily activities, and overall health and fitness. 


By utilizing isometric exercises into a training regimen, individuals can reap these benefits and improve their performance in both daily activities and sports-specific movements. 


And, boom, that is a quick overview run down of isometric training. I hope you took something away from this and if you are in our #powerful classes, well…hold onto your butts.  





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