What are isometric exercises?
Isometric exercises are exercises consisting in lifting and in static (motionless) holding a sports apparatus or body weight without movement of the joints. Unlike dynamic exercises, repeated a certain number of times, static exercises are performed not by quantity, but by duration and correctness.
The essence of isometric training is that you perform exercises in statics - that is, lift and hold a power projectile motionless for a certain period of time. Most often, 3-4 approaches are taken for 20-40 seconds or until muscle failure is achieved. Despite the fact that this type of training has been known for a long time, it is often “rediscovered”, promising rapid muscle growth without a gym.
The best isometric loads to strengthen muscles are squats with body weight, push-ups on the bars and other variations of the basic exercises performed at the bottom of the trajectory and without movement. They can be used both as a warm-up before training, and as an independent program of home training.
Isometry for muscle growth?
The idea of training muscles with an exclusively static load without using simulators or free weights aroused interest in NASA, since in weightless conditions it is difficult for astronauts to maintain muscle tone. During the experiments, it turned out that isometric training, although useful, but still can not maintain the existing volume and strength of muscles¹.
Pluses of isometric loads:
- Improves balance and posture
- Strengthens the internal muscles of the spine
- Involved in the work of slow muscle fibers
- Optimize muscle fat metabolism
The benefits of static exercises
The main benefit of isometric exercises is that they develop internal muscles and slow muscle fibers, which are inactive during regular strength exercises and in everyday life. That is why static exercises are included in many physiotherapy programs and are used to restore a person's motor functions.
Scientific studies show that static training improves the strength of ligaments and tendons, while increasing their elasticity. Such training has a positive effect on the overall coordination of movements and increases the ability to maintain balance². In addition, static exercises can have a positive effect on fat burning by optimizing the performance of capillaries.
Two types of muscle fibers
Muscle fibers are divided into two types - fast and slow. Their main differences are both the type and duration of the loads at which they are involved in the work, and the preferred "source" of fuel. Fast fibers "work" mainly on the reserves of carbohydrates (muscle glycogen), and slow - on fat. An example is chicken - white meat on wings and breast and red meat on legs.
Performing strength exercises with alternating weight lifting involves, first of all, fast muscle fibers, while slow fibers are included in the work under static loads consisting in motionless maintaining the body position - from maintaining posture in an upright position, ending with performing static training to straighten your back and posture improvement .
The complex of static exercises
Static exercises are an important component of physiotherapy and are ideal for home workouts to improve posture. However, to achieve the result, it is important to change your approach to training and not chase the number of repetitions or the ability to stay in a certain position for as long as possible, but pay attention to the correct technique and a full sense of muscle work.
Doing home isometric exercises is necessary in a sufficient number of approaches (at least 3-4 static cycles for each muscle group). Performances are carried out with maximum muscle tension and without joint movement for 10-15 seconds. To restore breathing, a pause between sets should be at least 30 seconds.
Top Isometric Exercises
Isometric Press Exercises
The main function of the muscles of the press is not twisting at all, but maintaining proper posture, protecting internal organs and, literally, tightening the body. That is why slow muscle fibers predominate in the muscles of the abdomen - and these muscle fibers develop more when performing static exercises (both straps and vacuum of the abdomen ), and not when lifting weights.
Isometric abdominal exercises are needed in order to develop the ability to tighten muscles as much as possible with a minimum load. In other words, when executing the bar, you should not think at all about how many seconds you are in it, but about whether you really feel the abdominal muscles and whether you are able to maintain a normal breathing rhythm.
The main static exercise for developing abdominal muscles. It is carried out in 3-4 approaches for 20-60 seconds.
Side strip with raising legs
One of many different variations of the bar for the development of the lateral muscles of the body. Also performed in 3-4 sets of 20-60 seconds.
Static exercise to strengthen the muscles of the lower back, buttocks and body. In the upper position, maintain the natural deflection of the spine.
Static leg lift
Exercise for pumping the internal and oblique muscles of the abdomen. Pull your knees to your chest, then linger in position without swaying.
One of the exercises borrowed from yoga. Serves to improve a sense of balance. When performing, the chest is set forward, and breathing remains normal.
Dumbbell Weight Training
Isometric press exercises can be performed with both body weight and dumbbells. It is believed that such training strengthens joints and ligaments, positively influencing strength indicators - that is why many professional athletes combine static and dynamic exercises in their programs. However, when training the press, it is important not to chase large weights, but to develop a connection between the brain and muscles.
The essence of static training is to develop the ability to tighten muscles as much as possible with minimal load - in other words, when doing the bar, you should not think about how many seconds you are in it, but about whether you really feel the abs muscles (including the muscles of the lower parts of the abdomen ), and whether you are able to maintain a normal rhythm of breathing.
Isometric Yoga Exercises
Isometric exercises are the basis of many martial arts and various yoga techniques. However, the emphasis in performing such exercises does not lie in the ability to maintain a difficult position for as long as possible, but in the development of the ability to consciously stop the thought process and go into deep relaxation. In fact, isometric yoga exercises are an active form of meditation.
That is why yoga not only strengthens and develops muscles, but also helps to learn how to use the physical resources of the body to 100%. Modern science is just beginning to study the positive effects of yoga and meditation on the human brain and on the ability to control not only your emotions, but also the general energy of the body.
Static exercises are one of the key ways to improve the mobility of joints and ligaments, train slow muscle fibers, and develop a neuromuscular connection between the muscles and the brain. The main benefit of static training is the development of the ability to maintain balance and consciously control the muscles of your body.
Scientific sources :
- Isometric Exercise Discussed, source
- NASA, Why do Workouts Work ?, source