Success in Sport is defined by not just speed or strength. Underlying athleticism is in Position and Posture. The best athletes are those that can seamlessly perform a given task no matter the circumstances. Often this means having the utmost control over the position of the body in space. Isometric Training is crucial for developing the strength and flexibility necessary for optimal body control. The following are 5 Proven facts about Isometrics and why you need to be putting them in your training.
A quick definition of isometrics and Posture.
-Isometric Strength is the ability to hold a joint at a given angle under load. Classically we see isometric exercises performed as ‘static’ exercises; squat hold, plank etc.
-Posture is simply how you hold your body in a given position. The way you simply stand, sit, squat, press… all have given markers for success and failure. Your Posture Is directly linked to overall health in many ways. For Example, if you sit at a computer all day with your shoulders rolled forward it becomes you default position. When it comes time to pick something up off the floor, chances are that you automatically begin to move with a roll of the shoulder instead of a hinge of the hips!
There is so much more to unpack with Posture but for now ill bring it back to the benefits of isometrics.
1.Isometrics have Proven Strength Gains
The Journal Of Sports Science published its findings on a study done in comparison of Concentric Exercises vs. Isometric Exercises. The findings concluded that when an athlete that adds Isometric exercises to their training regimen, strength gains are higher than simply just performing standard weight training. Think about it like this; performing static holds at the Top, Middle and Bottom of your Squat adds a level of complexity not usual when just trying to rep out a bunch of barbell squats. The muscle has to develop density and strength to hold the joint in position which translates into greater and faster strength gains.
2.Isometric Holds offer a Low Impact Nervous System Adaptation
When the muscle gets more dense and is taught to perform a more specific function, the body responds by sending dedicated nerve endings to the muscle so as to talk to it more efficiently. If your background in fitness is largely from the CrossFit methodology of hard, heavy and fast; you may think that this is the ONLY way to create an adaptation in the body.
What if, instead of showing me how badass you are by lifting a 225# barbell off the ground as fast as possible, you held the Deadlift (Hip Hinge) at the knee for :45 without breaking form!! Could you do it??? This is why tempo and pause work is so important to my strength exposure cycles! Strength and Neurological adaptations can occur without you smashing the joints of your body by performing repetitious movement along one specific plane.
3.Isometric holds help you build strength in different joint angles.
Muscle gains are one way we measure success but Positional Strength is much cooler for me as a coach. If I can improve your position at the bottom of a squat through isometric holds then by simple reasoning, I can increase your overall strength. Why? Well if you are able to display proper position in the bottom of a squat then was you stand with heavier and heavier weight, the chest won’t fall, the knees won’t cave and you’ll stand up faster!!!
Isometric Exercises allow a a coach and athlete to work through specific flexibility issues by positioning an athlete in a certain joint angle (think bottom of Squat or the top of the Pull Up) and hold them there. Once a certain task (usually a time under tension) is met, then we can work up or down through the angle of the joint and repeat the process. This helps muscle activation and recruitment BIG TIME!!
4.Isometric holds reinforce your Default Positioning and decrease Injury.
What happenes when we trip on some stairs ? When the the dog is about to bull you over? What your body does as a default is done through habit and practice. Isometric Exercises and training allow for you to establish Default Positions of strength and thereby decrease injury potential.
Even without consistent isometric training, Im sure you can relate to a situation in your life where you automatically assumed a position of strength before performing a task. Practice makes Habit. Habit can keep you healthy.
5.Isometric Holds helps develop aerobic capacity.
Aside from Strength Development and Posture benefits, Isometric Training can also help With your Aerobic Capacity Training. Performing Low Intensity exercise where the cells of you body are able to easily change oxygen and carbon dioxide helps to develop greater ‘Cellular Respiration’. As the Mayo Clinic has pointed out in their study, having better aerobic ability translates into a host of health benefits including Low Blood Pressure.
Here are 10 of my favorite Isometric Exercises ;
1. Deadbug Hold
3. Side Plank
4. Weighted Front Rack Hold
5. Squat Hold
6. Weighted Overhead Hold
7. Deadlift Hold (top)
8. Hip Hinge Hold
9. Single Leg Airplane Hold
10. Ring Support
Programming Notes 4/22-4/26 ***This is Week 2 of the Speed/Power Exposure Cycle. The goal is to teach you balance, and strength through position and skill based learning. The “Speed Work” drills are meant for focus and not to be rushed. Go at your pace. Warm up well and ensure that your joints and tissues are ready for the drills.
50 Single Unders
10 2 Ct Mountain Climbers
50 high Knee Jump Rope
10 Superman Arm Haulers
10 Supine Plank Hip Bridge
50 Double Unders
10 Elbow To instep + Reach
10 2X Kip Swing
2 Rounds Not For Time
50 Staggered Hand Push Ups (one wide/one narrow )
50 Step Ups (no Bounce off the bottom)
100 Double unders
Toes To Bar
100 Double Unders
Stand On one Leg with the other extended and in dorsiflexion
1:00 Each Leg
12 Single Leg KB Deadlift (Light)
12 KB Good Mornings
12 Lateral Goblet Kettle Bell Lunges
Clean Warm Up:
-Muscle Clean + Press
-Hang Power Clean + Push Press
-Power Clean + Split Jerk
-Barbell Roll Outs
-Hang Power Clean Below Knee
-Power Clean and Split Jerk
*Barbell Does not lead the hands
*Weights can be variable but should be challenging for all 3 Lifts
12 Deadlift 155/105
9 hang Power Clean
6 Shoulder to Overhead
—Rest 2:00 Between Rounds—
8X 10m Lateral Line Touches
8X 10m Linear Line Touch + Backpedal
10X Deadbug Ipslateral Reach
10 X Hovering Jump Lunges
“Speed Work 102”
2 Rounds of the Following
10X 3 Step High Knee Wall Drill
10 X Double Leg Tuck Jump
50 M A Skip
50 M B Skip
50 M VERTICAL Bias Power Skip
50 M Horizontal Bias Power Skip
50 M Carioca (Bias Quick Hip Flexion and Torso Rigidness)
50 M Lateral Bounding
4 Rounds Not For Time,
12 X Tempo Backsquats @ .75 of Bodyweight (1/2/0)
12X Single Leg Lateral Med Ball Jumps
5 X Pop Up Sprint Starts to 50m.
5 Minutes on Assault Bike
12 @ Each
-Single Leg Toe Touch
-Single Arm Ring Rows
-Side Plank Knee To Elbow (Each Side)
-Lat band Stretch
-Scapula Distraction Stretch
-Banded Pull aparts
1:00 Medicine Ball Russian Twist
:30 L Sit Hold
3X 8 Min AMRAP
50 Cal Bike
100m Stone or Heavy Sandbag Carry
12 Supine Ring Row
—Rest 2:00 Between AMRAPS—
*Feet on Box for Ring Row
Kettle Bell Warm up:
W/ Light KB
Head Circles 'L'
Head Circles 'R'
Up right Rows
Squat Up and overs (outside right foot, up and over to outside left foot)
Single Leg Deadlift
24 Kettlebell Snatch 70/53
12 Strict Ring Dips
* If you have a weight vest, wear It.