Benefits of Isometric Training to Enhance Athletic Performance

Isometrics consist of the athlete performing a static contraction, typically without any movement of the joint. There are a few different types of isometrics we use with athletes ranging from overcoming isometrics, yielding isometrics, and oscillating isometrics.

We want to choose a movement and position that best helps the athlete optimize positions they need to address. If they struggle to produce force in a split squat, we can use a split squat isometric to promote a compressive strategy to help them produce force in the desirable position. The athlete in the video is demonstrating a yielding isometric in the form of a safety bar isometric split squat to improve force producing capabilities. We can hold the position for 10-30 seconds or up to several minutes.

The goal is for the athlete to hold the weight in a position to prevent it from falling to forces of gravity/ the weight is pulling the athlete down. As the duration of the set increases, the tendon will become progressively longer as the muscle becomes shorter. They can translate to eccentric (muscle lengthening) strength and can elicit increases in tendon stiffness and joint health.

There are many other yielding isometrics we utilize to enhance tendon health benefits and force production capabilities such as the following.

– ISO Safety Bar or Front-Loaded Squat
– ISO Trap Bar RDL
– ISO Swiss Bar Bench Press at lockout
– ISO Push-Up
– ISO Chin Up

These exercises are just a few examples of how we implement this strategy with athletes. The duration of the exercise and the position we hold the isomeric contraction in will be heavily dependent on the athlete.

We’ve also noticed increases in power output when we pair this strategy with explosive movements that are like the isometric position we’re using. An example of this would be pairing an isometric split squat (video) with a split squat jump. Another example for the upper body would be an isometric Swiss bar bench press at lockout paired with a medicine ball chest pass.

Another great method to improve speed, acceleration, and power output is by pairing an overcoming isometric followed by a plyometric that replicates the same/similar movement pattern as the isometric exercise.

In this case, the athlete is performing a split squat against pins with the goal of creating maximal tension by driving the bar into the pins with the intent on “breaking the bar.” This is an example of an overcoming isometric that consist of a rapid pull or push into an immovable object to create a maximally compressive, force producing strategy.

There are numerous benefits to incorporating overcoming isometrics into your training.

– Increase rate of force production
– Greater motor unit recruitment
– Increase strength in specific positions
– Safe, effective, and scalable

Program Considerations
– 2-3 sets
– 3-6 second maximal muscle contraction or when force production capabilities drop off, then the set or total sets should be minimized to avoid further fatigue
– 2-3 minutes rest between movement cycles

Other examples of overcoming isometrics
– squat against pins
– deadlift against pins
– bench press against pins
– lateral split squat against pins
– ISO push up

Anyone of these exercises works great in conjunction with an explosive exercise to get stronger in a given joint position where the athlete needs work on creating a concentric, force producing strategy.

Contact: Kip Steingart, Owner Top Performance Strength
Cell: (847)542-5213

Kip Steingart

Kip Steingart

Kip Steingart is a certified personal trainer (NASM). He helps athletes of all sports achieve their goals at Top Performance Strength.

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