Exercising the body on a regular basis is extremely healthy. Some people choose to lose weight performing yoga, while others go to the gym and get help from a personal trainer. However, after, or while, losing weight, many people want to start strengthening their muscles but may not know which method to settle for. If you’re part of this category, you might want to discover the isometric exercises definition in the following paragraphs.
What exactly are isometric exercises and how can they help you? Check out th
Isometric Exercises Definition
Let’s establish what isometric exercises are. An isometric exercise involves contracting muscles without moving any of the surrounding joints. The muscles are under constant tension, which can help people strengthen their muscles while improving endurance and helping with dynamic exercise support. Although most exercises meant to strengthen the muscles cannot be done without moving the joints, isometric exercises are different. While performing them, one would have to hold a static position for a longer period.
Now that we have the isometric exercises definition, let’s get into some in-depth information.
When it comes to muscle contraction, there are two types you could perform, respectively isotonic and isometric. Isotonic ones involve the muscles getting either longer or shorter against resistance, while the tension maintains the same level. On the other hand, isometric contractions involve an increasing tension, while the muscle’s length stays the same.
Also, concentric or eccentric movements are usually involved in strength-building exercises, but these are isotonic contractions. While eccentric movements cause the muscle to lengthen, concentric ones make them shorter. But isometric exercises don’t involve any of this.
When you’re performing an isometric exercise, your muscles will stay the same, without changing their size or shape in any way. There are such exercises where the person performing them is either simply holding the body in a specific position or holding weights. When the contraction occurs, blood is going to fill the muscle tissue, which in return creates metabolic stress on the person’s muscle. In general, people who do these exercises hold the contractions for a few seconds or even a few minutes.
Isometric exercises are still contractions of a particular muscle or group of muscles.
What Are the Benefits of Isometric Exercises?
Okay, so now we know the definition of isometric exercises, but why would someone do these exercises in the first place? They must have some amazing effects on your body if people consider them, right? Isometric exercises come with many benefits for your body, and if you’re planning to incorporate them into your workout routine, here is what you’ll get:
One of the main reasons why people like isometric exercises is that they’re very safe. Among strength training exercises, they are some of the safest. Since they don’t require you to lift anything heavy or just burst with high intensity, the risk of injury is much smaller compared to high intensity training, or lifting weights. All you have to do is contract your muscles and strengthen them as a result.
Not everyone has the time to go to the gym due to a chaotic schedule – so, they might not work their muscles properly. Lifting weights (even your own body weight) is not the only kind of exercise there is to improve muscle strength. Isometric exercises can strengthen your muscles too, and the great thing is that they don’t take long to perform. When you are getting started, 3 rounds of about 10-15 seconds per muscle group is enough. So, as soon as you get home from work, you can start exercising.
Now it’s important to note that one of the greatest enemies of exercising is trying to get fast results fast. The body doesn’t work like that. It requires constant stimulus. So, it’s key you understand that you should not expect great results simply by exercising for a few seconds. This is just the first stage that will lead you to other kinds of exercising, and eventually to reaching your goals.
From the isometric exercises definition, we know that these exercises are mostly used for strength training (these exercises are great for losing weight). Still, they are also useful when you want to lose weight. You may also add isometric exercises to your lose weight through yoga plan. Believe it or not, but these quick and easy exercises could be added as part of your weight-loss program as they’re helpful when performed regularly, and you are already benefiting from them. When you hold a pose, for example warrior 1, you are doing an isometric lunge!
According to a study from the Journal of Applied Research, if you perform isometric training for four weeks, you could lose as much as 1.3” (3.3 cm) of belly fat. In the study, some of the subjects were able to lose about 3.82 lbs (8.4 kg) of weight, and this happened after no more than two weeks of isometric exercises. So, it could be a very useful type of exercise if you’re trying to lose some pounds.
The study concludes that isometric exercises can be easier for individuals who have severe time constraints.
Using props is recommended when your lack of strength may cause an injury.
Isometric exercises are very often used to improve endurance, and studies have shown that they are very effective in this regard. Overhead throwing athletes who were part of the study added isometric exercises to their training sessions. This resulted in a strength and endurance improvement of at least 10%. Not to mention that the study also showed that these exercises could be a contribution to muscle growth for stabilizing muscle groups. This results in better accuracy and longer holds.
Great Low-Impact Strength Training
There has been a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning which concluded that isometrics are amazing for lower-body strength training. The reason is that isometric training will add comparable strength gains while not applying incredible force on the body. Meanwhile, plyometric training will put a lot of pressure and stress on the muscles, joints, and tendons. Isometric exercises are better in this regard if you don’t want any stress applied, for example if you have any injury or condition that requires special care.
Isometric exercises are great for decreasing blood pressure. Research was made to prove that isometrics are a better option when it comes to lowering blood pressure compared to resistance and aerobic exercises.
Great for People with Injuries
If you have any injuries or medical conditions that don’t allow you to move too much, then isometric exercises will be a suitable option for you. A study from 2012 confirms it. Isometrics seem to be effective even for people with osteoarthritis, so they are a great alternative.
Are you dealing with pain? Well, isometric exercises may help, but it depends on the type of pain. A few studies were able to show that neck pain, lower back pain, and others could be decreased through isometric exercises.
Are There Any Risks that Come with Isometric Exercises?
Overall, isometric exercises are very safe. They are not as intense for major muscle groups as dynamic movements can be. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their risks as well.
For instance, if you don’t perform the exercises properly, you might experience injuries. A plank performed improperly will cause lower back tension and could end up in an injury if you’re unlucky.
At the same time, some isometric exercises can make existing injuries worse. So, when you’re doing these types of exercises, you should stop if you notice any pain during the process. At the same time, be honest with yourself when assessing whether it is pain or just discomfort from exercising your muscles.
Always follow expert advice, and learn about the key elements and what-to-avoids, before performing any exercise.
Isometric exercises are safe, fostering muscle growth, and improving performance.
What Are Some Common Isometric Exercises?
Did you read the isometric exercises definition and want to start doing these exercises too? If that’s the case, you should try the exercises below – you may already be familiar with them.
Get yourself in a lying position and make sure you sit on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet hip-distance apart on the floor. Then, push into the floor with your feet (do not lift the toes), and then squeeze the glutes in order to lift your hips very high. Do it as much as you can without having to arch your lower back. Start by holding this position for 10-15 seconds.
Be careful with:
Your knees shouldn’t be pointing outward. In order to avoid this, imagine you are trying to hold a yoga block between your thighs. This way your will keep your knees pointing straight.
Your feet must be in-line with your knees.
Engage your core and prevent lower-back arching. In order to do this, such your belly bottom in as if you wanted to touch your anus with it.
This position may be a little difficult at first, but it can be a very effective one in strengthening your muscles.
Start on the floor by getting into a plank position and keeping your elbows bent. The forearms should lie flat on the floor. Then, start squeezing your glutes while bracing your core, and try keeping your body in a straight line from head to heel. Start by holding this position for 10-15 seconds, and don’t let the lower back sag toward the floor.
Follow the same trick of pulling in your belly button.
Find a wall where you can lay your back on. Then lower your bottom until your thighs are at a 90-degree angle with your shins. Then hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
If a 90-degree angle is too much, try rising your bottom a little bit up.
The narrower the space between your legs, the more difficult.
Make sure to keep your feet in-line with your knees, and your lower back in contact with the wall.
Now that you know what isometric exercises are, and their benefits, you might want to try some. As research has proven, these exercises are safe, and effective for losing weight, fostering muscle growth, and improving performance. So, don’t hesitate to add them to your workout routine.
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Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and yogini. Trying to beat down stress and achieve peace of mind through the daily practice of Yoga. After a while in yoga, I embraced it wholy, and it changed my lifestyle upside down. Now I want to give back , helping others on their journey.