Isometric: Definition and What It Is
Isometric Definition and Meaning
Isometric refers to a type of muscle contraction where the muscle length remains constant while generating force. Isometric exercises include planks and wall sits. They involve static positions rather than dynamic movements like running, lunges, and jump squats. Isometric exercises also tend to be low impact.
What Is Isometric?
Isometric exercises or actions involve maintaining a static position, engaging muscles without as much bending at the joints or moving the affected body parts. Essentially, you're holding a position, resisting against an immovable object or the force of gravity. For example, holding a plank position is an isometric exercise because your muscles are working, but there's no joint movement.
Isometric Exercise Examples
Several types of exercises and activities involve isometric contractions:
Plank: Holding your body in a straight line from head to heels.
Wall Sit: Leaning against a wall and holding a seated position.
Isometric Push-up: Holding the push-up position at the bottom of the movement.
Banded Biceps Curl: Holding the arm at a 90-degree angle.
Benefits of Isometric Exercises
Isometric exercises are beneficial for building muscle endurance and strength over time. While isometric exercises can be especially useful for rehabilitation purposes or for individuals who may not be able to perform dynamic exercises due to injury or joint pain (say, from arthritis), they’re good for anyone to incorporate into a well-rounded exercise regimen. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that among their many benefits, isometric exercises can also help lower blood pressure.
Isometric vs. Isotonic Exercises
While isometric exercises involve muscle contractions without movement, isotonic exercises, on the other hand, involve muscle contractions with movement. In isotonic exercises, the muscle length changes, like when you do a pull-up or bench press or go for a run. By adding a long pause to an exercise, like the top part of a glute bridge for example, you can build isometric contractions into most exercises.
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This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.
Edwards, J. J., Deenmamode, A. H. P., Griffiths, M., Arnold, O., Cooper, N. J., Wiles, J. D., & O’Driscoll, J. M. (2023). Exercise training and resting blood pressure: a large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 57, 1317–1326. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2022-106503
Mills, A. (n.d.). Isometric Exercises: Examples, Benefits, and Applications. NASM. https://blog.nasm.org/isometric-exercises
Onwunzo, C. N., Igwe, S. E., Umunnah, J. O., Uchenwoke, C. I., & Ezugwu, U. A. (2021). Effects of Isometric Strengthening Exercises on Pain and Disability Among Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis. Cureus, 13(10). doi:10.7759/cureus.18972