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Forms of Isometric Training

The types of isometrics we utilize are isometric holds, isometric presses, isometric
contrasts, oscillatory isometrics, and impact absorption isometrics. Below is a brief
overview of each.
Isometric Hold: An isometric hold is a static exercise in which an athlete is required to
hold a particular position with or without resistance for a required period of time. The
athlete is trying to disallow any movement, while trying to recruit the correct muscle
fibers to perform this movement. This type of isometric is used to educate the body to
properly recruit and stabilize the kinetic chain.
Isometric Press: An isometric press is a static exercise in which the athlete pushes or
pulls against an immovable object for a required time. The athlete is trying to generate
as much force as possible, trying to actually move the immovable object. This method of
isometric teaches the CNS (central nervous system) to recruit more muscle fibers to
perform a movement, so when the similar movement is performed dynamically, these
extra muscle fibers will be readily activated.
Isometric Contrast: By putting the muscles in the least mechanically advantageous
position (stretched position) and requiring those muscles to fire maximally from this
position, an athlete is asking his CNS to work overtime. As the CNS allow the
recruitment of more muscle fibers to perform this movement, the force being generated
is increased. Once the athlete stops the isometric exercise they will then perform a
power movement for low repetitions with minimal rest. The theory behind the contrast is
based on the fact that the athlete will readily activate more muscle fibers to perform the
ballistic movement, when preceded by an isometric exercise.
Oscillatory Isometrics: Immediately following an isometric exercise (release all
tension), the athlete will perform a single or series of powerful micro-contractions in the
same mechanical position as the isometric contraction was performed. Basically all
tension will be released from the isometric exercise and the dynamic form of the
exercise will be performed with minimal range of motion occurring.
Impact Absorption Isometrics: A Form of isometric in which an athlete will absorb a
force or impact and immediately perform an isometric contraction for a required time.
Upon properly absorbing the impact, the athlete will minimize any change in the joint
angle and hold this position.

Advantages of Isometric Training


1.
2.
3.
4.

A single workout does not usually exceed 15 minutes of your time


No special equipment needed
Can be performed virtually anywhere and anytime
Isometric exercises are the best way to train tendon strength, the true human

strength
5. Variety of isometric exercises allows you to train for certain activities
6. Anyone can perform isometric exercises of some sort, therefore, such trainings
are used starting with injury rehabilitation all the way to special forces and
strongman competition preparations
7. There are isometric exercises for any part of a human body
8. The energy is only spent on tension increase without being wasted on the motion
causing fatigue, therefore, making it possible to reach maximum levels of strength
9. Isometrics increase flexibility
10. Isometrics decrease injuries

Disadvantages of Isometric Training


1. Danger of serious injury, and blood pressure problems, if implemented incorrectly
2. Takes time to learn how to properly implement the techniques
3. Isometrics are not a brainless and dumb push or pull of a static object, your
mindset is very important. It takes time to learn to properly control your body,
muscles, and breathing.

Concept of Isometric Training


As I have mentioned before, many people, athletes, and writers fail to completely
understand the meaning of isometric training. Isometrics are targeted on developing
tendon strength, which is very hard to understand at first, as we are all fed by the
pictures of bodybuilders, giving us an illusion of strength. Just as Zass used to say big
muscles without strong tendons are just that and is an illusion of strength. Lets break
down the concept of isometric s to better understand its function, you must forget the
illusion of big muscles = strength and simply follow this logic of isometrics:
1. Tendons are what attaches muscles to the bones and makes them move during
muscle contractions or extensions
2. The way muscles grow is they create new muscle tissue, not by thickening the
existing ones
3. In order to fully engage the new bigger muscle we created by working out, we
need to grow tendons, since tendons must attach itself to the new muscle tissue
and connect it to the bone
4. Muscles grow through their tear, by healing and increasing the size as the result,
however, tendons grow through continuous tension
5. Muscle tissue is a lot weaker than tendons, thus takes less time and pressure to
tear.
6. Tendons take more time to grow than muscles
7. Dynamic/isotonic training is targeted on implementing multiple sets of repetitions;
this type of training mostly tears muscles, as the tension in such exercises is not

enough to train tendons


8. Tendons need a continuous type of tension in training to grow
9. Isometric training provides continuous type of tension to the muscles and tendons
without their contraction at an angle and level chosen by the athlete, therefore,
training tendons more
Here we go, this is the logic that many athletes seem to not know or ignore. Lets take
pro bodybuilders mean looking machines with veins popping out. Yes they have a lot of
muscle tissue; however, they do not have large and strong enough tendons to help
engage all of that power and connect it to the bone, which only creates an illusion of
strength. Bodybuilders focus on muscle isolation and sometimes linear strength;
therefore, their exercises completely ignore true functional strength with tendon
strengthening exercises. Just imagine how much strength bodybuilders would have, if
they also implemented isometrics to support all that muscle! But it is called
bodybuilding, not bodystrengthening

Is isometric training the answer to all the strength training


questions?
Another biggest misconception floating around the Internet is that writers and athletes
seem to think that isometrics on their own should be able to fulfill all their strength
training needs. As I have mentioned before, isometrics mostly work tendon strength;
therefore, increasing their size (it also tears muscle, yet not as much as the isotonic
exercises). It is still muscles that make things move; it is still bones that are able to hold
large amounts of weight and pressure; it is still our cardiovascular system that supplies
oxygen to our muscles; and yes it is still our mind that makes it all happen.
Here is a breakdown of isometric training, how Alexander Zass saw it:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Strong will power


Ability to control your muscles
Tendon strength
Breathing right

Strength training must be a part of any athletes workout =>there is no true strength
without tendon strength =>isometrics must be a part of every athletes workout.

Isometrics Myth : Isometric training does not help in functional


strength training.
This is a misconception born by the strictly muscle focused perspective. Yes, from such
angle it seems as we are training only a certain part of the muscle from a certain angle
(the dynamic perspective). As functional strength training focuses on movement and
completion of certain types of activities, training your muscle does seem insufficient

from only one position. If you read the material above, you can now see where this takes
a wrong turn isometrics are mainly focused on tendon strengthening and growth, not
so much of a muscle; therefore, isometrics are essential to functional strength training!

How to Properly Train Isometrics


There are infinite types of isometric exercises; therefore, you should choose whatever is
important for you specifically. The best thing is that isometric training does not require
purchasing expensive equipment; in fact you can implement isometric training without
any equipment in the right setting. Alexander Zass only used a chain for almost all of his
isometric exercises. Due to a large number of available isometric exercises, I will not
waste your reading time by giving you samples, as Google is a click away, but rather
would like to stress the importance of the following rules and directions of proper
isometric training. I call them the 20 Golden Rules of Isometric Training:
1. Your whole body is your main subject not particular muscles; respect it and listen
to it.
2. Always start implementing isometric exercises on a breath in, not out!
3. Create a flexible wave of power, with a smooth natural entrance, leaving stress
and goals out of you mind (do not focus on breaking the chain, once you learn the
isometrics and train properly for long enough it will break when its time to
break), while focusing on the process and the volume of the body power.
4. Breathe steadily and calmly. If breathing becomes deeper or more frequent, your
heart will start rushing, breaking the power wave stop immediately. Rest, calm
down, repeat. Try to feel trough the exercise.
5. The power wave must involve the whole body, only this way you will be able to
strengthen the muscle-tendon-bone relationship.
6. Always stretch your muscles thoroughly before training, using static and dynamic
stretching to avoid serious muscle and joint injuries
7. Start exercise with zero amount of strength and start slowly and steadily
increasing it.
8. Do not hurry, let the overall exercise and reaching the level of maximum strength
appear naturally, start with 2-5 second exercises and increase the time over time.
9. Listen to your body during the whole process, feel the flow of power and strength,
feel the release, listen to the recovery with a feeling of uncertainty followed by the
new inflow of strength. Only this way one learns to have full control of the
muscles.
10.Implement exercises properly the first time, as statistically it takes roughly ten
times longer to change a habit then to get it. Get used to doing exercises properly
the first time; for instance, on squads, you must feel it in your quads more than
anywhere, otherwise, you have a problem.
11.Use natural biomechanical exercises and positions, do not try to twist your joints
the way they are not meant to be twisted.

12.Properly use muscle imbalances, teach the CNS to recruit proper muscles,
increase strength and power
13.Isometric hold time range should be less than 2-3 minutes
14.Isometric press time range should be less than 9 seconds
15.Impact Absorption Isometrics can be held for up to 5 seconds
16.As an athlete, use isometrics as a supplement to training, as sport is dynamic and
thus your training needs to be dynamic as well
17.If you feel sharp pain in your muscles or joints, stop immediately, rest more than
usual, stretch, repeat the exercise with low pressure; feel what is causing the
pain. If pain continues, stop and give it a day or a few to heal, only then try again
(or pay for negligence later). If pains persist, consult your physician.
18.Prepare yourself mentally; imagine a continuous movement, whatever it may be.
Chains and walls only exist physically, not mentally.
19.Only set time limits on your sets, not rests. Allow your muscles to recover from
the previous exercise, but do not slack off between sets. Listen to your body, feel
your muscles, use only enough time for them to recover according to your
personal assessment, not more no less. Every person is different.
20.Once a week implement a checkpoint. Grab a chain or a stick and try to stretch it
with hand down, with about 95% of intensity for around 8-9 seconds, then drop it
and relax. Listen to your body, feel your arms rise a little in front of you or to the
sides. They will then start slowly lowering down. The length of time of your arms
staying up is defined as an amount of tonic activity. You should notice an
increase of tonic activity every week, if you do not, you must be doing isometrics
improperly.

This information should give you a good start in the right direction with isometrics. Now
you know what isometric training is really all about and what its true purpose is. Go
ahead and look up Alexander Zass and his chain training techniques if you are an
athlete, join a yoga class, or simply find some exercises you can do in your own personal
setting. No matter if you are a fighter, wrestler, firefighter, police officer, strongman, or
a housewife; we can all benefit from isometric training in one way or another!