Isometric weight training has many muscular endurance benefits. It can be great for helping you to overcome a plateau in your program, as well as to help you to increase your muscular endurance and size. Either way, isometric weight training can be a game changer for you if you’re considering implementing a different type of training technique in your training routine. The beauty of this technique is that it can be used in virtually any exercise session. The term “isometric” in physiology basically means a constant contraction of equal force. No concentric or eccentric movements.
A classic example of this is when performing a barbell curl. And as you raise the bar up toward your chest, stop at the midpoint of the movement and hold the contraction. An isometric contraction, like this one, should be held for a specified number of seconds. It won’t take long before the muscles are extremely fatigued and are engorged with blood. Isometric weight training can be a highly effective technique to use to increase not only muscular endurance, but muscle size as well.
Endurance Isometric Weight Training
Isometric weight training is great for building up muscular endurance. One of the more popular ways to test someones upper body muscular endurance is to perform a plank (or abdominal bridge). To try this exercise out, lie prone on the floor, supporting your body with your toes and your forearms. Keep your back straight and see how long you can go without completely flattening out from pure muscular exhaustion. Many people cannot perform the plank for more than a minute due to the quick lactate build up. Besides the plank, there are countless ways to increase your muscular endurance with isometric weight training.
A very effective way to increase muscular endurance is to perform isometric sets of exercises to near or absolute muscular failure after normal working sets are completed. Let’s take the shoulders for instance.
Let’s say that you want to increase your upper body muscular endurance and you want to implement isometric weight training into your upcoming shoulder workout. As you may or may not know, for optimal muscular endurance results, the ideal rep range is on the higher end, say around 12-16 reps per set, and the intensity should be around 60-70% of your 1 rep max.
One of the best ways to utilize isometric contractions during an endurance shoulder workout is immediately after the last working set for a given exercise. So, if you performed 4 working sets of standing dumbbell lateral raises for 12-16 reps with an intensity of 60-70% of your 1 rep max, you can then do a couple isometric sets after.
Try grabbing a significantly lighter pair of dumbbells and try holding them with your arms stretched outward horizontal to the mid-line. Try and hold them out as long as you can until your arms start to lower due to pure muscular fatigue. This is a great isometric weight training example that you can easily incorporate in your next shoulder training session, as well as in any other workout.
Isometric Weight Training For Muscle Growth
Isometric weight training for muscle growth is great for increasing the intensity of your workouts. The increased time under tension that the muscles experience during isometric contractions flood the them with blood and provide near instant transient hypertrophy. There are countless ways to mix them into your routine.
A very effective way to incorporate them into your training session is to isometrically contract at the top of a movement for 2-4 seconds, like with the bench press or biceps curl for instance. This causes for increased blood flow and muscle stimulation. This is a highly effective intensity technique to use to increase overall muscle fatigue. This technique can be used for the bench press, biceps curl, leg extension, triceps extension, and for many more exercises. Some of the best times to use isometrics for growth seem to be either during a repetition or at the end of a set.
Isometric weight training is great, but not ideal for all exercises. For instance, if you are training legs and are interested in using isometric contractions to increase the overall intensity of the workout, you should use isometrics for the leg extension, leg curl, and calf raise not for the leg press or squat. These could be harmful because these exercises are usually heavy weight bearing movements.
Isometrically contracting during the top of a squat or leg press could be harmful to the joints and potentially lead to injury. Compound movements are usually not best for isometric weight training. With this being said, taking into account of the exercise itself and its dynamics are a good idea before using isometric contractions. In addition, if performed correctly, isometric weight training can greatly increase muscle growth and fullness.
All in all, isometric contractions can greatly increase muscle endurance and muscle size. It can be used in many different ways and for several types of training as well. Whether your goal is to increase muscular endurance or muscle size, using isometric weight training can be the edge you’ve been looking for to help take you to the next level.