Friday, October 3, 2008

That's the isometric truth

In my fitness journey, I tried isometric exercise training and found it to be challenging and effective. I didn't stick with an isometric program very long since it didn't match my personality. I found it difficult to know if I was really exerting my maximum effort and preferred, instead, exercise methods that gave me a more objective measure of my effort expended.

Isometric exercises strengthen a particular muscle by tightening, holding and then relaxing it, all without moving the joint. Contrast isometric exercises with isotonic exercises, such as pushups and pullups, which require actual movement.

Examples of isometric exercises include (1) holding a weight in a motionless state or maintaining a static position. For example, holding dumbbells out to the side in the crucifix position. A bodyweight example would be to hold a static position hanging from a pull-up bar, and (2) the act of pushing or pulling against a stationary object. For example, pushing against a wall involves an isometric contraction. No movement takes place, as the wall is immovable.

John Peterson, author of Isometric Power Revolution, describes a classic isometric contraction as the willful contraction of a specific muscle or muscle group against an immovable force, object, or another muscle group at ultra-high intensity. In other words, no movement is possible. Peterson provides the following description of a pectoral classic isometric contraction:

"Stand erect with your feet about 12” apart. Clasp your hands . . . with the fingers of your right hand in the top position between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Extend your elbows outward and slightly away from your chest. Press your hands firmly against each other wile slowly building tension as you inhale for 3 to 4 seconds until you reach maximum contraction. At that point, slowly begin a controlled exhale for 7 to 12 seconds while maintaining a maximum muscular contraction. Then slowly release the tension as you inhale deeply for 3 to 4 seconds. Relax. Take 7 to 10 deep power breaths . . . . “

Here is a video demonstration of this exercise:

I seldom do isometric exercises these days, but I don't doubt their effectiveness. And that's the isometric truth.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum


Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying reading your blog and workout thread for the last week or so.

It's nice to see another 53 year old, out there trying new things, 'Olympic lifting'. I've been working on riding a unicycle this past year, myself (nothing great, but I'm doing OK).

I've been a member of '' for the last year. That's how a came acoss your blog, someone put a link to your blog in a post. If you ever get over there, my user name is 'rickvv'.

Good luck with your goals.

pierini said...

Wells thanks for stopping by. You are also welcome here.

I'll take a look for you over at the Body Culture website.

Have a great weekend!