The Disadvantages of Isometrics

By Paul "Batman" O'Brien 

B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. IMed., Dip. Adv. OBB, Dip. CHM, Pn1, PN-SSR, PN-NCA, M.AFPA., M.C.Th.A.

A client once asked me what the problems and the disadvantages of Isometrics were , and for the first time in what seems like forever I opened my mouth and had nothing to say. In all my years as a fitness trainer, and isometrics specialist I had only run into one problem. There was no way to gauge the intensity of an isometric contraction, and as such no way to ensure increasing progress.

That was until quite recently. In the early 90’s a rough system of measuring an isometric contraction was developed, and the disadvantages of Isometrics disappeared. The two men responsible were Pete Sisco and John Little. Using very heavy weights and specialised gym equipment to ensure safety, these two pioneers of fitness developed the first method to objectively measure an isometric contraction.

The principal was quite simple. Say when practising a bench press for chest development you place the bar in a power rack just two or three inches below your full range of motion. You then load it with an awful lot of weight. You press the bar up into you strongest range of motion, and hold it there for a specific period of time. You then adjust as necessary.

While basic it was a bold an innovative move that allowed people to determine a rough idea of what they were capable of achieving in an isometric contraction. Unfortunately few people learnt to contract the muscle correctly prior to this and while they experienced astonishing early development many stagnated and reached a plateau.

Recently a new development has arrived in Isometrics involving a rather expensive customised machine. This new machine gauges the stress of your isometric contraction and allows you to established goals for further development. It to suffers from the same problem. This machine is still being refined, and unfortunately is not readily affordable to many.

That said – with the proper application of tension and muscle control combined with proper mental focus, maximum contraction is still achieved, so try harder every workout and your strength gains are guaranteed.

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