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What do you know about Isometric exercises? To understand about this concept, you should learn how your muscles contract. Your muscle can contract in several ways. When shortening, it’s called aconcentric contraction. The muscle can also tense when lowering the weight. In this condition, it’s called eccentric contraction. This type of contraction occurs when your muscle tenses lengthening. The final contraction type is known as isometric contraction. This condition occurs when your muscle tenses without changing the length. For examples, you train this muscle by pushing against a wall. Body builders also use this type of exercise.

One of the major advantages of Isometric exercises is that the body can stimulate almost all motor units. In fact, it’s something that’s usually very hard to do. This exercise is a kind of strength training in which the muscle length won’t change when the muscle is contracted. Unlike regular strength training, it’s done in a fixed position instead of moving through diverse motions. It means you can practice this type of exercises anytime and anywhere without any special equipment. Mostly, experts recommend that it takes only seconds to perform this exercise effectively. Your muscle can be trained by using this kind of resistance.

History of Isometric Training and Exercises

There is a history of Isometric exercises. It’s well known as static strength exercise. In the past, this type of training became the secret of chivalry medieval orders’ physical training methods. The most efficient system was the Knight Templar’s. This type of system gave them the brute strength without spending too much energy. Nowadays, it’s popular among body builders as well. The system has common history with Indian yogi’s training. It’s said that this common history can be the geometric training. There’s also DR. Anokhin’s system that became very popular in the early 20th century. This system became well known as “the best indoor training”.

There have been many athletes who use Isometric exercises in their training. To perform this kind of exercise, you don’t need troublesome equipment and particular premises. Anokhin has the belief that there’s only one move. The Anokhin’s system is called the Volitional Training. Its principle is to perform training without any load. You don’t need expanders, dumbbells, and other equipment. In fact, this type of system is still applicable nowadays. This not only increases the strength, but also to achieve the ability to relax and tense different muscle groups, which is quite beneficial in any physical activity.

How Can We Perform Isometric Exercises?

There was a successful story of a person who applied Isometric exercises. He was Alexander Zass, an athlete from Russia. He applied this kind of exercise in his training. As a result, he developed great physical and tendon strength. He described his exercises system to the public. The real purpose of this exercise is to build up muscles without changing their length. There’s no visible motion at the joints as well. This exercise also gave sensation to the world of sports. There have been many sportsmen who have included this training in their workouts. In the end, they were able to improve their strength rapidly.

So, who can we perform Isometric exercises? It can be done by anyone. Importantly, these types of exercises should become more efficient than regular workouts or other sport systems. There will be limitless options for training your muscles in this method. Here are some exercises that you can focus on: palm press, core engagement, neck strengthener, and many more. Basically, you should choose the one that might suit your routines. However, you can do this type of exercise in the middle of other activities.

Effectiveness of Isometric Exercises

There’s a part that makes Isometric exercises so much more effective. It requires a thorough muscle exertion. Your muscle will be given maximum training effort. The major secret of isometric exercise efficacy is the strengthening. These exercises are considered as effective as other methods  if the major goal isn’t the maximum strength. In definition, isometrics don’t require any movement at all. It will be ideal for rehabilitation processes. Moreover, you shouldn’t move any single joint at all during the training.

Basically, there are 2 major methods of exercising using isometrics. They are maximum muscle movement, and semi maximum muscle movement. Both of them are beneficial for you.

The maximal movements of Isometric exercises would use immovable objects such as wall and door frame. It’s the best choice to build up strength and conditioning. While the sub-maximal mobility would include movable objects such as elastic bands and free weights. These are usually used more for medical purpose such as rehabilitation. It’s because the exertion level isn’t so great. So, are there any downsides or drawbacks? There’s something you should really pay attention to. You should combine this exercise with other strength training methods. Also, you should avoid this type of exercise if you have health problems.

Examples of Isometric Exercises

If you are going to do Isometric exercises,  you shouldn’t involve any joint movement at all. The aim is to strengthen the muscles. Isometrics are ideal to increase both endurance and resistance. Though, some body builders consider this training is only for professionals. On the other hand, you can perform it without visiting a gym or buying expensive equipment.

There are some examples of isometrics such as Plank Bridge, push up, and bicep exercise. Plank Bridge is the most common of Isometric exercises. You need only to lie down on the ground. Place your elbows below the chest. The rest of your body would be on the floor. In this position, the entire weight will be focused on your forearms. Push up is also efficient way to train your muscle strength. However, you should perform it regularly. Another popular training is the bicep exercise. It’s the simplest among all. Moreover, it can be easily conducted anywhere, even at your office. In summary, you can learn more about this from experts at a gym. The help from a personal trainer is recommended as well.

 

 

Ray Plumlee

Retired USN "Mustang"(Enlisted to Officer) Officer. World traveler, been to 38 countries.
After retiring in 1994, I kept myself busy traveling as an online web programmer. Maybe you heard of me, Have Web Sites Will Travel? I then retired for a second time in 2010. Recently to keep busy I started a 3rd career, a career dedicated to me. My full time dedication is to my health and fitness. My job is to research everything to do with health and fitness (Yes, sexual health) and everything else related. I workout 6 times a week, closely monitor my diet and nutrition. I have started an online blog dedicated to the health and fitness of men over 60. So you can see I keep myself very busy.


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Tagged on: aconcentric    Alexander Zass    athlete    bicep exercise    body building    contraction    DR. Anokhin    eccentric    Exercise    Isometric    muscle    Plank Bridge    push up    static strength    Volitional Training

16 thoughts on “Isometric Exercises – What Are They?

  • 30 April 2018 at 5:52 PM
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    Yep. I got here the beginning of 1970. The yen was 360. In the Air Force. Was at Itazuke in Fukuoka, Kyushu for 10 months then was transferred to Fuchu, 20 minutes from downtown Tokyo. Left Tokyo in June ’73, got out of the service in Oct. ’76 and came right back here where I’ve been ever since.

    I’ll let you know about the OYO.

    Regards,
    Dan

    Reply
    • 1 May 2018 at 2:30 PM
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      Thanks! Look forward to hearing about it.

      Ray Plumlee
      Over60Health.info

      Reply
  • 26 April 2018 at 9:38 PM
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    https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Ask-the-doctor-Are-isometric-exercises-safe-for-the-heart

    Too bad that article is behind a paywall.

    Anyway thanks for your info. I don’t want to have a dueling pro and con article swap on isometrics either. I was just concerned about if it should be avoided by people with heart/blood pressure problems. But that article says it is OK (from the bit I could read) . It is an old article though and like wine, coffee, etc. they’re good for you, then a few years later they’re bad for you, and a few more years later they’re good for you again. Who knows for sure. We can only work with the latest findings.

    I’m surprised that your doctor found evidence of a heart attack that you didn’t even know you had. What kind of a scan showed that?

    As for my doctor, the doctors in Japan are not like the doctors in the USA. My doctor(s) dance around any general questions about exercise. One (a digestive system specialist who watches my blood pressure) once told me to keep my heatbeat rate under 120 when I do fast walking or ride my aerobike. But the last time I asked about exercises to keep/build muscle, he replied: “You’re almost 70 years old. you shouldn’t do strenuous exercises?”. So that tells me he is not following the latest info on exercise for seniors. And I know most Japanese doctors are the same.

    To get a good opinion about what exercises are good for me I’d have to go to a sports doctor specialist and pay thousands of dollars to run through tests and consultations. Japanese national health insurance doesn’t cover that sort of thing.

    Anyway, I just ordered my OYO from Amazon USA. If you are interested I’ll let you know what I think about it after it is delivered and I spend some time with it. The thing that attracts me about it is its size and convenience and it doesn’t depend on gravity. I plan on doing upper-body exercises with it when I do my daily power walks.

    Regards,
    Dan

    Reply
    • 30 April 2018 at 12:25 PM
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      I think you will be safe using the OYO device. Yes, I would appreciate hearing what you have to say about the OYO after you have used it for awhile.

      The heart scan used for finding the results of an old heart attach was a “Nuclear Heart Scan” where they used a series of radioactive sensitive cameras and by inserting nuclear contrast directly into my blood. I was having some faint heart pains which I wasn’t too worried about but my blood pressure shot up to 190/90 so I headed to the ER. They could find nothing so referred me to a Cardiologist who determined that my risk factors (age etc.) were high enough to warrant the test.

      You say you are living in Japan. I was stationed there from 1966 -1969 in Yokosuka aboard a couple of different ships then I was stationed in Yokohama from 1972-1975 at a Microwave relay and Tandem Telephone switching center. I have many fond memories of living in Japan. While I was there I saw the Yen go from 360 to the dollar down to 250 to the dollar. And look at it now! 🙂

      Ray Plumlee
      Over60Health.info

      Reply
  • 17 April 2018 at 4:43 PM
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    Hi Ray. I am glad I found this website and thanks for the help.

    The OYO is not really a device to do Isometric exercises as there is always movement involved. Because of my concern of Isometrics and high blood pressure I am very interested in the OYO. But it is hard to get an opinion and there are no outside reviews of it. The only I could find were on Amazon.com. There are both good and bad comments. Some of the bad ones say it’s cheaply made and does not provide enough resistance to be beneficial except for very young, women, and someone who has never exercised.

    I think it might be just right for my age though.

    Reply
    • 22 April 2018 at 3:52 PM
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      Dan, have you discussed this with your Dr. yet? If so what did he say?

      My intention is not to start a dueling pro and con article swap on isometrics but to show that this issue about isometrics and high blood pressure and heart disease (1) is not settled science. Here is an interesting article generally pro isometric exercises:

      https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Ask-the-doctor-Are-isometric-exercises-safe-for-the-heart

      I would be interested in hearing what your Dr. says. My Dr., who is an Osteopath, is generally in favor of it for me. I have been on High Blood Pressure meds since 1984 and was diagnosed with heart disease earlier this year. Yet, I have greatly improved my muscle tone and muscle mass over the last 5 years. Also losing body fat to where it is now about 10%. All that has gone to help my overall health.

      As for the OYO device as I have never heard of it before and not considering it’s construction quality, I would say it looks interesting and if I didn’t already have an exercise plan I would consider trying it.

      Ray Plumlee
      Over60Health.Info

      (1) After a scan of my heart they found evidence (scar tissue) of a previous heart attack. How long ago they could not tell only that it was not recent. They then did a blood flow test and found that I had normal blood flow by the heart. Since the heart attack was so minor, I never knew I had it, and the blood flow test being normal my Dr. said I should ignore it when considering exercise.

      Reply
    • 17 April 2018 at 3:09 PM
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      Theron, why specifically, did that article raise a red flag with you regarding isometric exercises?

      Ray Plumlee
      Over60Health.Info

      Reply
  • 16 April 2018 at 9:50 PM
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    Hi. I am new here and found this site googling “Are isometric exercises healthy?”

    I am a 69-year-old retiree looking for a good strength building exercise system that suits my age. I am not in bad shape and I do Qigong and walk fast a lot and do light pushups, situps, angled chinups etc.

    I want to workout at home but don’t have the space for equipment. That’s why I am considering Isometric exercises (I have an old Bullworker) but I got the possibly wrong idea that these exercises without movement are not safe and possibly bad on one’s heart and circulatory system. This is because there are pretty much the very opposite of aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming or dancing, that work one’s cardiovascular system.

    Am I wrong?

    Also because I am concerned about the safety of Isometric exercises I have been looking at the OYO Personal gym ( https://www.oyofitness.com/ ) but I am worried that it might be a kind of gimmick, and offer too little resistance to be of any benefit. Does anyone have any experience with one of these?

    Regards,
    Dan

    Reply
    • 17 April 2018 at 3:04 PM
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      Dan, thanks for taking the time to contribute to Over60Health.info! I have never heard of the OYO system before. At a quick glance I would say it is another clever way to do isometric exercises. Since I believe in isometrics’s I will take a closer look at this system and perhaps have an article/review on it.

      But, your core question is your concern if isometrics are harmful for you. I seem to be just like you a reasonably healthy and fit 70 YO. Who is not a Dr., so all I can give you is my opinion/belief that for aging men any way you can keep or improve your muscle tone and muscle mass is a good thing. From what I have read isometric exercises are good for your heart and your cardiovascular system. Of course I don’t recommend giving up walking or running as a form of exercise. It is probably safe to say that doing both isometric and cardiovascular types of exercises is the smart thing.

      Keep in mind that for the aging male, or female for that matter, a lot more forces are at work such as joint failures, nerve degeneration and only God knows what else. Doing anything you can even if it’s isometrics’s from your wheel chair is a good thing.

      Ray Plumlee
      Over60Health.Info

      Reply
  • 20 February 2018 at 1:35 PM
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    Isometric exercises are great to increase stamina and work extremely well to burn fats without doing extensive efforts. The beauty about isometric exercises is the convenience. Such exercises can be performed indoors, almost no equipment needed for most of the types and the best part, they involve no complex training sessions at all. That is the reason; I prefer doing Isometric whenever I get a chance.

    Reply
  • 6 February 2016 at 3:22 AM
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    I like how you don’t need a lot of money to do these exercises. I have read your newer posts on isometric exercises as well, they are really helpful. Thank you for making this so easy!

    Reply
  • 5 February 2016 at 6:37 AM
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    I personally like these types of exercises. They are easier to do for me in my apartment and I do not have to get to the gym to use any complex equipment. I still go to the gym once a week to get that workout, but the majority can be done before work and in my own home.

    Reply
  • 26 January 2016 at 5:04 PM
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    Just an observation from a casual reader of health websites. I think that since Isometric exercises is the only form of exercise that does not hype a lot of different, very expensive equipment it should be much more popular than it is. Sort of like soccer is to sports, a pair of cleat shoes, a jersey, shorts and a pair of socks and you are outfitted.

    Reply
  • 25 January 2016 at 4:36 PM
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    Fantastic post. I first started doing isometric exercises while on flights. A fitness fanatic friend of mine suggested I try it to avoid getting stiff while on long flights I had to take for business. He also promised me it will reduce tension and allow me to relax more fully afterwards. It works.

    Reply
  • 16 January 2016 at 2:41 PM
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    It’s important to not do too much cause we all know that too much is bad. Also it’s very important after training to eat something cause muscles needs something new to “eat”.

    Russian sports science great Yuri Verkhoshansky recommended that isometric workouts be limited to ten minutes per session. This would be total time of isometric contraction for the whole workout, so for example, if you did 3 x 10 second holds in each position (for either workout) you’d have done ninety seconds total. The greatest success I’ve had with people is working up to five sets of ten-second contractions in each position. I know that is well short of the maximum ten minute time span, but if you do these right, meaning that when you turn everything on you really make sure to tense everything maximally, you will find your CNS can’t handle too much more. I generally recommend people start with three six-second contractions for each exercise and add a rep per week, before adding time to the length of each rep. In between reps perform Fast & Loose drills, breathing exercises, shadow box, or anything else that will shake off the muscle tension.

    Reply

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