Isometric Exercise -
The Real Truth!

What is Isometric Exercise?

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Isometric exercise is practiced by pushing or pulling an immovable object like a wall or bar anchored to the floor. Research has shown that a muscle contraction during Isometric exercises produced more force then a contraction generated by lifting weights. Although research shows that Isometrics exercise increases muscle tension significantly, it still fails to change the length of the muscles. Today, it is primarily used for rehabilitation purposes.

Advantages of Isometric Exercise

  • Can achieve maximum muscular contraction as opposed to Isotonic exercise also known as weight training.
     
  • Workout is much faster. You would hold a position for each set for 6 to 8 seconds and do 5 – 10 sets per exercise. So you can do each body part in as little as a minute or so presuming a few seconds rest between sets.
     
  • Can gain strength. Unfortunately, you will only strengthen very isolated areas of the muscle group.

Disadvantages of Isometric Exercise

  • Decreased muscular endurance. When you lift weights (Isotonic exercise) blood is pumped into the muscles very frequently increasing muscular endurance. Isometric exercise does not generate the same blood flow, thereby potentially reducing muscular endurance.
     
  • Building strength during a static contraction can potentially reduce the speed of the muscle response. This would slow down your athletic performance.
     
  • Boring, boring, boring. Go to the wall and press against it for a few sets. It’s like standing in the corner during elementary school. You must enjoy something to maintain consistency at it, and few could enjoy Isometric exercise.
     
  • Increased blood pressure. Isometric exercise increases blood pressure more than any other form of exercise. This could lead to a ruptured blood vessel or irregular heartbeat.
     
  • The strength gains achieved during Isometric exercise occur only within 20 degrees of the angle you hold. Lifting weights (Isotonic exercise) allows you to build strength throughout the entire range of motion.

The Lowdown on Isometric Exercise

Unless you are locked in a room with nothing else to do, I think you will find these exercises particularly boring. Although in an empty room you could still do push-ups and sit-ups and some other stuff. Anyway if you want to experiment with Isometric exercises you should not make that the only form of resistance training you do. The benefits of weight training appear to significantly outweigh those of Isometric exercise.

In summary, weight training will do the following things better than Isometric exercise:

  • Increase the length of your muscles
     
  • Strengthen the full range of your muscles
     
  • Increase muscular endurance
     
  • Lower the risk of heart related issues.

Final thoughts: To be most effective and achieve maximum muscle growth incorporate both training protocols in your training. The use of a "post isometric contraction" has been proven to increase strength and muscle size by more than 302.3%.


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