Traditionally, isometric exercise is one of the most underutilized types of muscle conditioning. At best, it has typically been employed as a warm-up or cool-down for more dynamic movements. However, as exercise science develops, more people are discovering the many benefits of isometrics.
Performing isometrics requires focus and balance; it is an exercise technique that involves static non-motion that prompts a muscle to contract as much as it can without shortening and lengthening. The upshot of this process is that a muscle is forced to work as hard as possible at specific angles to joints. A great example of this is an abdominal plank, in which the body is fully elongated and held parallel to the floor with the core muscles fully engaged to keep the body from sinking from fatigue and the force of gravity. Planking has scientifically proven benefits as one of the most effective isometrics for gaining core strength, with certain clinical studies showing that isometric planking engages deep muscle tissue far better than risky movements like crunching.
There are many reasons why isometrics are becoming so popular. One is their ability to increase muscle strength without the constant use of ballistic movements of the type that often lead to injury. Most people believe that the only way to gain strength is by performing progressively heavier lifts throughout a muscle’s entire range of motion. Unlike heavy lifting, isometrics eliminate cheating, concentrate resistance at a variety of angles, and proportionally strengthen soft tissues like tendons and muscle fascia. They also fatigue muscle groups very quickly: a few minutes of isometrics can provide the same strength-enhancing stimulus as a long, traditional weight training session.
Another reason isometrics are gaining more attention is tied to the modern desire for physical aesthetic appeal — The looks and trends of fitness cycle can be very fickle. During the 80s and 90s, big and hulking was beautiful; the ideals of the time viewed strong men like Arnold Schwarzenegger as the pinnacle of fitness. In the contemporary social environment, the long, lean, and sculpted physique is most desired. Isometrics prompt muscle to stay as flexible and elongated as possible. Resistance without movement stresses individual muscle fibers, and tends to create the opposite effect associated with being musclebound. These exercises will help you get your beach body ready by promoting muscle density and integrity, which make a body look youthful, pliable, and symmetrical; get ready for summer with Striation 6 by training at their gym, which is well equipped with cutting edge isometric equipment.
A huge portion of society has experienced an injury from work or an accident, with complaints of back injuries becoming incredibly common. This is another explanation for why isometrics are becoming popular: their ability to target specific muscles greatly accelerates rehabilitation efforts. Isometrics aid muscles and soft tissues to repair in relatively short workout periods and provide exercise stimulus in a completely safe manner when practiced properly. People under rehab prescriptions can walk into a gym, perform a few intense isometric exercises, and experience significant results despite what by all appearances is very little effort. In short, isometrics save time, but are absolutely effective.
More and more modern gyms are recognizing the growing popularity of isometric exercise, and are designing spaces and programs to accommodate the trend. Pay-as-you-go gyms have been early adopters of isometrics, incorporating scientifically proven benefits of isometrics into an overall wellness regimen. Some days, it is simply more beneficial to perform a quick series of isometrics instead of a traditional weight and cardio plan.