Fitness for the Average Joe: Isometric Training

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“Most fitness programs want to begin with some kind of high impact movement. What if I have bad joints? How can I improve my fitness while dealing with or overcoming joint pain?” If you’ve asked this question before, there is hope. While many people need a kick in the pants just to get started. Some have a burning desire to improve their fitness but have concerns such as the above. If this is the case, then isometric training may be a good place to start.

Some of you may just be getting back into the game after a hiatus, only to realize that you’re not a spring chicken anymore. Others, you may be recovering from a recent accident or injury. While getting into the water and doing some pool work is a good option if you’re in this boat, and I’ll talk more about that in a later post, today I want to give you a new weapon for your arsenal: Isometric training.

The front plank.

Photo: Flickr/Thoroughly Reviewed

Before we get into the details of what isometric training is, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits:

  • Build strength
  • Sculpt and define muscle (aka get that beach body)
  • It is low impact and will protect joints
  • Can be done with weights or with your own body weight
  • Short workouts can be as effective as long ones
  • Is great for rehabilitating from injuries
Bruce Lee
Photo: Flickr/Venomx91911

What is isometric training? Simply put, it’s an exercise that isolates a particular muscle or group of muscles for a long duration of time. The most common example of an isometric movement is the plank. The cool thing about isometric training is that almost any type of exercise movement can be turned into an isometric exercise with the right pacing and intent. Pushups can become isometric by slowing down the upward and downward motion or pausing at a certain point during the movement. So instead of cranking out 60 pushups in a minute, you may only do 3, but each pushup took you 20 seconds to complete. The same methodology can be applied to squats, or pretty much any other type of exercise. Bodybuilders often utilize isometric training for muscle growth.

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