It makes you gain strength without moving, still, it makes you sweat. And it has magical powers, it can make the time run slower! Do you know what this is?
Isometric exercises! Wall Sit, Plank or V-Hold are some of the most famous representatives of this family of “movements”.
What is an isometric exercise?
The word “isometric” comes from the greek “isos” (equal) and “metria” (measuring). It means that you contract a certain muscle or muscle group to hold a position, so that your muscles do not change their length. It’s different from the movement patterns we typically use in strength training: concentric movements (tension on a muscle that’s shortening) or eccentric movements (tension on a muscle that’s lengthening).
What isometric exercises can’t do
This has of course some drawbacks: you will only make the muscle stronger in this particular position vs. the whole range of motion when you perform dynamic exercises. Isometric exercises will also not make you able to move quicker or more dynamically.
The benefits of isometric exercises
- Injury recovery
- As you are not moving, holds like the Plank position are pretty safe and can be a great help to regain some strength and joint stability when you are coming back from an injury.
- Lower blood pressure
- Even more than aerobic or resistance training, isometric training has shown to reduce the blood pressure.
- Muscular endurance
- As you are training your muscles to keep contracted for a long time, isometric exercises can be a great preparation for movements that are still too hard for you. For example, the Pushup Hold and Plank for Pushups or the different positions of a Pullup work the muscles in your arms.
- Speaking of doing Pushup Planks to improve your Pushups, they do not only have an effect on your arms but also on your core muscles, so that you can keep up a clean technique with a straight torso for a longer time.
- Multiple muscles and their corresponding motor neurons have to coordinate to support the needed muscle contraction in a specific muscle group to keep up the static position. That’s why regular isometric exercise trains the brain, nerves, and different muscle groups to work as a unit.