How to Use Isometric Exercises to Improve Your Fitness Level

isometric exercisesIsometric exercises are becoming very popular since they are proven to have efficacy in achieving and maintaining a fit body. They are executed without the muscles actually flexing or changing length. Your muscles become tense, but no part of your body is in motion.

These exercises are practised by many fitness trainers in order to strengthen targeted muscle groups. An isometric exercise is performed by pulling or pushing on an object that is immovable, like a cement pillar or wall.

The human body is comprised of three different types of muscle, namely, slow twitch, intermediate twitch, and fast twitch muscle fibres. These fibres are present in most of the body's muscles. Slow twitch fibres are for endurance exercises, and can undergo isometric contractions extensively. Muscles in the arms and legs that are not used for posture have high concentrations of the faster twitch fibres. Fast twitch fibres can produce more power in brief time intervals.

To use isometric exercises to their maximum effectiveness you must be cognizant of the characteristics of the various muscle groups in your body. This will enable you to choose suitable exercise regimens. Isometric exercises work best if they are used in conjunction with other types of exercise. When you are working on a specific muscle group, it is also beneficial to do exercises that flex the corresponding joint to increase muscle strength.

Isometric exercises – benefits

Isometric exercises have become popular with fitness buffs for a number of reasons. First, they are very convenient to execute, they can be done anywhere and anytime, whether you are at work or at home. In addition, isometric exercises can be performed without using any equipment. Furthermore, they have efficacy in strengthening the body, and the chance of injuring yourself while performing them is minimal. People also use isometric exercises to make improvements in their appearance. Isometric exercises can be done with the neck and face muscles, this tends to make the face firmer and improves elasticity.

Isometric exercises and your blood pressure

It has been found that isometric exercises can significantly raise your blood pressure during the course of an exercise. Your blood pressure will quickly return to its resting level subsequent to the exercise. This poses no problem for most people, however, it have an adverse effect on someone that already has high blood pressure or heart disease. For anyone, it is important to breath regularly during the exercises, holding your breath will further increase your blood pressure.

Uses of isometric exercises

Isometric exercises are useful for strength conditioning and also for rehabilitation, when it is desirable to strengthen muscles while not putting stress on a joint. There are movements in a lot of sports that require static strength. For instance, snow skiing requires static strength to keep the legs stabilized during skiing. Horseback riding requires static upper body strength, and motocross requires static upper body strength. This is just a few examples of many sports that require static or isometric strength.

Isometric exercises can be performed with muscle action that is submaximal, for example, steadily holding a weight at your side. The amount of force needed to hold the weight will not be maximal, because this would cause the weight to be lifted higher and alter the length of the muscle and the joint angle. Of course isometric exercises can also use maximal muscle strength, for example, pushing against a rigid wall. Maximal and submaximal isometric exercises will increase a person's isometric strength and result in muscle growth or hypertrophy.

Most of the time, maximal isometrics are used in strength and conditioning and submaximal isometrics are used for rehab. Even though isometric exercises are able to increase strength, they are not the optimal form of training for people engaged in very dynamic actions, such as jumping, or sprinting. However, they are useful in conjunction with dynamic forms of exercise. Many athletic movements are dynamic in nature and must be performed at a rapid speed with no resistance.

Isometric exercises will make a muscle stronger at the angle of training. That is why isometrics alone, are not suitable for many sports that require rapid muscle response.

In conclusion, isometric exercises are safe and effective. They are helpful to people engaged in a variety of athletic activities and for rehabilitation, particularly when flexing a joint is not possible or desirable.

Barbara Komorek

Barbara is the founder and owner of www.leanhealthyandwise.com. She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.