Isometric exercises are a kind of strength training exercises in which the length of muscles and angle of joints do not change while contracting them unlike dynamic movements. These exercises are done in static position instead of moving the body in dynamic range. In this write-up what is isometric exercise, types of isometric exercises and benefits of isometric exercises will be discussed in brief to help you in understanding this workout concept.
What is isometric exercise?
Isometric exercises can be defined as the exercises which involve static muscle contraction without visibly moving the angle of its joint. The name isometric is derived from the combination of two Greek words Isos and Metria which mean equal measuring. In this way, isometric exercises mean the exercises in which the angle of joints and length of muscles remain the same but strength of contraction may vary.
Types of isometric exercises
Isometric exercises can be divided into two types – overcoming and yielding.
Overcoming isometric exercises: This type of isometric exercises involves an immovable object to allow the muscle and joint to work against it.
Yielding isometric exercises: In this type of isometric exercises muscle and joint oppose a resistance while remaining in static position.
It can be understood precisely with an example of the bench press. If you hold the bar at a given place, even if it can be moved higher, then it can be termed as yielding isometric exercise. But if you press the bar up within the squat cage so that it cannot be moved up anymore then it will be overcoming isometric exercise.
In this way yielding isometric exercise can be defined as an exercise in which an object is roughly pressed with an amount of force equal to the force required to stop it from lifting up or falling down. Due to inexact control on the force the action in yielding exercises can be termed as eccentric and concentric actions.
On the other hand overcoming isometric exercise can be defined as the exercise in which you can move the bar up but cannot move it more even by exert more force on it. The force used in overcoming exercises can vary with every individual but the bar cannot be moved higher so they can be termed as purely isometric exercises.
Overcoming exercises can further be divided into unweighted and weighted exercises.
Unweighted overcoming isometric exercises
In these exercises person can use his 100% efforts and go on using it until his strength starts decreasing due to working under tension for longer time. According to various health experts these are the best muscle building exercises. The effect of these exercises may depend upon the efforts done by the subject and his awareness regarding progress.
Weighted overcoming isometric exercises
Like yielding isometric exercises, weighted overcoming exercise give measurable improvement in the muscles. The advocates of this exercise style believe that back pressure of real weight can help in building superior strength of the muscles. But there is more risk of injury and inconvenience due to the use of extremely heavier weights.
Resistances used in isometric exercises
The resistance used in isometric exercises for the contractions of the muscle may include:
- Structural items like fence to push the body
- Ground and own structure of the body
- Equipment like pressure-plates with digital display to show force applied
- Weight machines, elastic equipment or free weights to hold them in fixed position
- The force exerted can be increased or reduced as per the goal of doing these exercises.
Benefits of isometric exercises
People are doing isometric exercises for a number of benefits, discussed in brief here under.
- Effective for any fitness level and age: These exercises are easily adjustable as per the needs of the participant. So people with any fitness level and age can do them easily. They can do these exercises within their level of intensity without putting undue strain on body system or group of muscles. Therefore these exercises are also described as quick and comfortable exercises.
- Less risk: There are less chances of injury and discomfort as these exercises can be adjusted easily according to the potential of the participant. In this way these exercise can be used as a good alternative to the workouts involving extensive training and weights to build muscles. One can easily adjust the force to be applied against resistance to get desired results. They can be done even by the people with limited movement options or recovering from injuries.
- Improvement in flow of blood: Another benefit of isometric exercises is that they improve the flow of blood in the entire body of the participant. In this way it helps in improving his overall health by distributing oxygen and nutrients properly in the body with blood flow. But according to various health experts, people with high blood pressure problem should search for a safer alternative as isometric exercises can be harmful for them.
- Do anywhere and anytime: You do not need any special equipment to do these exercises. Usually your body is mainly used as resistance in isometric exercises so you can do them anywhere and anytime. Thus these exercises can be a good choice for you if you do not have weights at your home or cannot go gym for doing exercises. You need not find a fitness equipment to do these exercises as they help you in remaining fit in any condition and location.
- Static Muscle Strength is increased: These exercise help in increasing static muscle strength essentially required for pulling, lifting or pushing heavy items. While doing isometric exercises you should keep in mind that force used in doing exercises in a particular position will help in gaining muscle strength.