The term “isometric” actually comes from two Greek words meaning “equal measure.” There are a number of ways to define the word isometric but, basically, an isometric exercise is one in which there is muscle contraction without movement (muscle length does not change during contraction).
Here are some examples of isometric exercises:
- Holding a pushup in the “down” position for some pre-determined period of time (or, as long as possible)
- Holding a squat in the “down” position
- Holding a chinup/pullup in the “up” position
Isometric exercises may also involve a pause (shorter hold) between the eccentric and concentric (up and down, or push and pull) phases of the exercise. You can increase the intensity level of isometric exercises by adding time to the “hold,” or adding weight to the exercise.
How can athletes benefit from isometric exercises?
Every athlete wants to be able to generate a lot of explosive force. Isometric exercises, when added to a training regimen, have been shown to help athletes produce more power.
Isometric exercises can help athletes improve their ability to absorb impact and resist force.
Isometric exercises are useful in helping athletes build muscle and joint stability.
Because of the “mental toughness” required to hold an isometric exercise for as long as possible, athletes can learn to improve mental focus and overcome fatigue.
Beginners may benefit from isometric exercises when they are unable to perform an exercise (like a pushup or chinup) with technical correctness through a full range-of-motion. The strength built, over time, by doing the isometric version of the exercise can improve their ability to perform the traditional exercise.
When performing isometric exercises, athletes should strive for perfect form and posture.
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