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I just found about isometric training and wanted to try it out but from what I see you have to do bench presses,squats and deadlifts. My question is:

Is isometric training made for any exercise or muscle group or only for those above? And how does isometric training help us?

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Isometric versus Concentric Training

Each kind of training produces the greatest improvement when strength tests used are similar to those of training. Most improvements are observed when the test routine matches the training routine. Exercise-type specificity is supported.

Improvement in functional (sporting) performance is the most practical criterion for comparing training effectiveness of various types of exercise, despite functional activities usually being more complex and employing additional capacities to the performance of the trained muscle groups. It appears that concentric training may be superior to static training for improving performance although more research needs to be conducted to conclusively define an answer.

Isometric versus Eccentric Training

It is unclear as to whether isometric training is superior to eccentric training in increasing isometric strength, with the majority of studies indicating no difference. One study has reported eccentric training superior for developing eccentric strength.

There are no reports comparing the effects of the two forms of training on functional strength.

In conclusion, there seems to be a tendency that the modality of training is the modality of function you'd be improving.

Source: Morrissey, M. C., Harman, E. A., & Johnson, M. J. (1995). Resistance training modes: Specificity and effectiveness. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27

Anecdotally I feel the need to mention that my preferred isometric exercises revolve around smaller muscle groups, where size growth is harder to accomplish (e.g. forearms, calves). Particularly training grip strength isometrically has allowed me to increase the weight at which I need to start using wraps for deadlifts.

  • and your recommendation is for me to use heavy loads or small loads for this type of training? Or how can I know what to use? Besides try and fail until I find what works for me. :) – John Pietrar Nov 16 '16 at 13:46
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    My recommendation is to stick to concentric and eccentric training. In my experience, most people neglect eccentric training, and can gain a lot from incorporating it. If you still find yourself stagnating, then I'd look into isometric training. But for most lifts, I don't think it should be necessary. Particularly the big lifts. – Alec Nov 17 '16 at 8:24
  • Is it wrong to do eccentric and concentric at once?(lift slow and let it down slower) – John Pietrar Nov 17 '16 at 9:09
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    No, doing them both in the same set is perfectly appropriate. A good modality I try to follow for working sets lower than my max, is to spend 2 seconds lifting the weight, and 4 seconds putting it back down, for each rep. This will make sure you get the kind of micro-tears in your muscle fibres that can only be achieved with focus on the eccentric portion. – Alec Nov 17 '16 at 9:54
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    And yes, particularly for bench press, I like to do sets that are above my 1RM, with a spotter helping me for the concentric lift, and letting me get that juicy eccentric part for myself. This should be done with care, though, as there's a good reason why the spotter is there in the first place. – Alec Nov 17 '16 at 9:55
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Isometric exercise aka 'isometrics' are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (compared to concentric or eccentric contractions, called dynamic/isotonic movements).

Isometrics are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion. The Plank is one of the most popular isometric exercise, as it challenges many core muscles.

Critical Analysis

Isometric exercises allow for more force generation than concentric exercises because they are not "overcoming" -- you're not actually moving the load, which affects how the cross-bridges cycle (but note that actin/myosin do still cycle during isometric contraction, in humans).

Additionally, isometric muscle action is important to coaches who emphasize the triphasic model of movement because these coaches believe that movement is not eccentric -> concentric contraction, but eccentric -> isometric -> concentric. Thus, these coaches like to train the isometric component of movement.

Furthermore, the Soviet system placed a lot of emphasis on explosive isometric training, again influenced by the triphasic model as well as research that demonstrated some pretty impressive improvements. There were some issues with joint angles and things but I won't get into that here.

The Isometric lifting is a valuable training tool, but it should not be the focus of your training program. Instead, perform functional lifts, which closely resemble athletic movements


Personally/Anecdotally

I like weighted planks a lot, I feel that they have helped develop my stabilization. I also like using them for smaller muscles: forearms, traps, calves.

  • The joint problems catched my eyes,big joint problems?Ok I guess this depends on the load but an approximation on how big a problem to the joints this type of training is would help. – John Pietrar Nov 16 '16 at 13:48
  • Joint problems in terms of Joint angle, a lot of arguments are had over what is the "best" angle. – Gunge Nov 16 '16 at 13:53
  • Strange,intuitive I would say the best joint angle is the one where you feel the most stress on the muscle.I guess that's not the case? – John Pietrar Nov 16 '16 at 13:57
  • Its a balance between tendon and muscle strain. – Gunge Nov 16 '16 at 14:00

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