The Isometric Side of Performance

The fitness industry has based many of its exercise patterns and movements on the three main movers and shakers of muscle contraction: the eccentric, the concentric and the isometric contractions of any movement. This three-dimensional bio-mechanical breakdown of movement is etched in all program design and exercise literature where more than 90% of programs are designed on the concentric side of movement and muscle contraction.

The  eccentric components do get some mention, yet rarely applied anywhere near enough as they should.

The isometric side is seen by many as “merely” the pause point. Google “isometrics exercise” and you will be flooded with generic planks, wall squats and pauses.

By definition, yes, this may be an isometric movement, yet it is far from tapping into the true potential and opportunities that full activation of isometrics holds.

Throughout the years, the understanding of how isometric muscle contraction (the application of constant tension to the muscles) has changed the way we now see the immense benefits of adding more time under tension into sessions. A growing number of studies on the well-known Pubmed platform, also one of the godfathers of scientific based studies and research, illustrate how few personal trainers, fitness coaches, and gyms utilised the isometric side of performance in their program design and exercise prescription. 

Constant tension under maximum force for short bursts of time (even 5-10 seconds, when applied accurately) has crafted, highly effective path toward rewriting neural systems for improving physical performance, muscle endurance and force production to maximally engage muscle fibres and generate greater force, tension, strength and power.

One of the key factors which are definitely central to optimal hypertrophy is this prolonged time under tension and force generation. Isometric training is the ultimate time-under-tension method. Profoundly changing the landscape of highly effective training methods, isometric exercises also have resulted in above-average improvements in corporate wellness programmes.

Regularly incorporating isometrics has been shown to lower blood pressure, strengthen not only muscles but also joints and connective tissue, support weight loss, reduction in post-exercise muscle soreness (DOMS), improve range of motion and mobility, and alleviate back pain. Above all, isometrics clearly have led the way in time-saving exercise protocols in a sustainable and time efficient way.

All it takes is a mere 10 seconds. 

Since the early days, the team at Aspire Coaching has actively incorporated isometric exercises in its personal training sessions and program design methodologies, with results that have catapulted client goals in record time. It is with this method that Aspire Coaching is the first in Thailand to onboard the Isophit™ methodology in real practice – a device dedicated to the philosophy and bio-mechanical performance advantage of isometric exercises.

Isophit™ dramatically improves muscular strength and joint stability which has been shown to reduce muscle and joint pain. Its versatility makes Isophit™ equally accessible for people of any age or ability, and the increase in stability helps them move, lift, and play with more control and confidence.”

In addition, here are some other published studies supporting the evidence and benefits of isometric based training protocols:

  • Isometric exercises lead to increase in muscle bulk, upper and lower body strength, increases in bone density, and a decrease in bone fractures.(4). Journal of Clinical Hypertension
  • Isometric stabilisation exercises reduce pain and enhance vitality as dimensions of Health Related Quality of Life among women with chronic low back pain with such effects lasting for at least nine months. Journal of Human Kinetics
  • A single resistance training bout of isometric contractions reduced tendon pain immediately. British Journal of Sports Medicine
  •  Women preferentially increase fat oxidation during low-level isometric exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 
  • Isometric exercise is unique in its ability to rapidly increase muscle strength and tone muscle faster than that seen for dynamic exercise. Journal of Applied Research
  • Isometric contractions may, indeed, be more useful for improving muscles than eccentric contractions and flexibility. PubMed
  • Highly effective and time efficient force production. The metabolic changes resulting from a 30 (second) isometric contraction of the quadriceps are similar to those of a 30 (second) maximal sprint. Journal of Physiology

For more information, contact the Aspire Team of personal trainers, sports performance professionals and physiotherapists in Bangkok and try out the Isophit™. 

Dan Remon 38548

Dan Remon


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