Definition: Isometrics or resistance exercises, contraction and stretching of muscles are important, and that resistance of forces against muscles results in toned and firmer muscles. By working an individual muscle in a static position slowly and with attention only to that muscle, it will be strengthened and tightened naturally. Muscles waste away without use. Isometric exercises strengthen dormant muscle tissues on isolated muscles naturally without undue strain or movement throughout the rest of the body. As you contract a muscle, the fibers move together and increase in size. It is important to understand the difference between exercises that resculpt your muscles and those that create larger, often bulging muscles. The aim of most people is to redefine muscles, to tone them, and to reduce or enlarge them as you choose. If you are worried about building big bulky muscles by doing isometrics with weights, don’t be. 99.9 percent of women do not have enough testosterone, the male hormone that governs muscle growth, to develop bulgy muscles.
Making a Big Comeback in Fitness
“Sit up straight” was the prompt your elementary school teachers and parents used to give, and – as is true with so much old-fashioned advice- it looks as through Mom really did know best. From simple good posture to hard-core strength training for professional athletes, the basic principle, isometrics, remains the same. Once the domain of bodybuilders and physical therapists, isometrics – or muscle contractions and stability exercise that strengthen without movement and activate the nervous system – are back in vogue and hotter than ever.
Isometrics are the common tread in such popular fitness trends as core conditioning, Pilates and yoga. Athletes who train for power use isometrics, but so, too, of elderly people who need to improve balance and mobility to avoid falls. Using isometrics, core conditioning improves the way you move by teaching you better control of your body, because all movement begins at the body’s core (or torso), and the stronger the core is, the better the movement. Where traditional abdominal workouts emphasize sit-ups or stomach crunches, core conditioning instead relies on isometrics to hold the spine in a neutral position. The emphasis is on creating a mind/muscle connection stimulating the nervous system by “tightening” the muscle with no visible, obvious movement.
Even sitting up straight is an exercise in isometrics, although many people don’t realize it. The muscles of the neck, torso and hips contract isometric ally to hold correct posture. Further progression of the exercise involves such tasks as balancing on one leg while holding perfect posture or adding external resistance from elastic bands. Isometrics and core conditioning are the guiding principles behind the Standing Firm System. While using resistance bands to tone and train the lower body, the standing posture requires the abdominal muscles to tighten isometric ally and stabilize the core. By mastering the basics of isometrics and core conditioning with the Standing Firm, all movement improves…and better movement brings a firmer, stronger lower body.
How Do Isometrics Improve Your Posture?
Isometric exercises do not involve a bunch of equipment or a trip to the gym. They can be done any where at just about anytime. Research has already shown that Isometric exercise is the perfect exercise for patients recovering from surgery. It has also shown that Isometrics are a good choice for exercise for seniors. It is perfect for people who are on the run and are limited in their time. It is also perfect for housewives and stay-at-home moms.
Since isometrics are mainly concerned with muscle contraction and resistance it will also benefit your posture. There are actual isometric exercises that are designed to work on your posture by strengthening the muscles in your back and legs.
Research indicates that the Military already knew about and put into practice isometrics for posture. This is one of the reasons they have so many different times at which the service men are required to stand at attention. When standing at attention it adjusts your rib cage and lungs to the exact location they need to be in to function correctly. Standing at attention also puts all your other organs in alignment for proper functionality.
Standing at attention is very similar to some of the isometric exercises listed for posture. If you can do this several times a day, not only will your posture improve, but also all functions of your lungs, stomach and other organs. Posture isometrics can also be done sitting down, so it still is good for those who may have limited mobility as far as standing and walking is concerned.
It is very important that you use the proper techniques when doing isometric exercises or you will not receive the proper results. It is also very important that you take your time when doing these exercises or you will not properly recondition and strengthen your muscles.
A great example of isometric exercise is holding a ball with your foot (keep it from flexing) while using your calf muscles to point your toes. You need to work through the process of each of the exercises. Make sure not to skip any steps or you will not get the proper results. It is important to make sure you talk to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure you are using the proper exercises for the muscles you are trying to develop and recondition.
If you are still injured you need to make sure that you do not do any exercises isometric or otherwise that might re-injure the initial injury point or cause injury to any other part of the body. Isometrics can help teach athletes the proper way to position the body when moving and bringing strength where there is weak range of motion. Isometric exercise can also be used to lose weight, increase your flexibility, and help your body build endurance.
Isometrics vs Traditional Exercise
A traditional exercise program is well-rounded, encompassing all aspects of improving health. A good exercise routine includes cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, posture, and maintenance of body composition.
Start with a good warm-up by doing light calisthenics, followed by stretching to maintain flexibility. Next, enter the conditioning stage, which consists of cardiovascular work to get the lungs and heart functioning at a higher rate, followed by resistance-training to strengthen and tone major muscle groups. The final stage is a cool down to bring your heart rate to a resting level and then another stretch to give you greater mobility.
Isometrics could be used for resistance training in order to strengthen major muscle groups. In isometrics, exercises such as pushing against a wall will generate force, causing muscles to contract without a change in their length.
The advantages isometric exercise provides is the building of muscle, strength and power. The tension developed during isometric exercises is often higher than that developed during isotonic contractions (movement of a joint during muscle contractions). Isometrics can be performed anywhere and at any time, since they do not require equipment.
There is a drawback to isometrics over traditional exercise. They are not functional in nature and activities like sports where you want to see a readily transferable skill or power development. Also, this is not the way to go if you are working toward developing a bodybuilder-like physique with isometrics alone. Fortunately, combining isometrics with other traditional exercises can be exremely beneficial.