What Is An Isometric Exercise? – Why Should You Care?

What is an isometric exercise?

You’ve probably heard about isometric exercises if you go to any group fitness classes, especially Barre or yoga. But what is an isometric exercise? More importantly, what’s it to you? In this article I’ll define isometric exercise, give some examples, and then show you the good news; you really can work out anywhere, anytime 😉

The easiest way to answer the question “What is an isometric exercise?” is to compare them to “normal” exercises. Most exercises that we do on a day-to-day basis are dynamic/isotonic exercises. These are performed through a range of motion. Isometric exercise or isometrics is a type of strength training that is done in a static position. There are two types of isometric exercises: overcoming and yielding.

Yielding vs. overcoming isometrics…what is an isometric exercise

In a yielding isometric, the joint and muscle are held in a static position while working against resistance. But when performing an overcoming isometric exercise, you are working against an immovable object. The main difference is that in a yielding isometric, you are exerting the exact amount of pressure required to negate the resistance, while in an overcoming isometric, you are exerting even more force but are still unable to overcome the resistance.

Some examples…

For example, plank is a really popular isometric exercise because it challenges your entire core. If you were to drop down into a push-up position and stay there, you would be doing a yielding isometric because you’re exerting the exact amount of pressure require to negate the resistance of your body weight. It’s friggin’ hard (effective!)… But if you were doing sit ups with your feet at the wall, then stopped at the top of your sit up and pushed as hard as you could against the wall, you would be doing an overcoming isometric. You’ll feel this if you try it, trust me…

Why should you care?

This means that there are nearly limitless ways that you can work your muscles throughout the day – without taking up space, a lot of time, or even breaking a sweat. Check out some basic exercises here. You can do these while waiting in line, for the bus, while sitting, or laying down watching TV. Enjoy! If you want a more structured introduction to isometric exercises, try out a barre class. And let me know how it goes… Aren’t you glad you asked the world wide web, “What is an isometric exercise?” I am. Are there any isometric exercises you already do in your workouts? How do these compare to the ones you already do?
what is an isometric exercise
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2 thoughts on “What Is An Isometric Exercise? – Why Should You Care?”

  • I have just started recently to incorporate the plank into my work out along with the other bodyweight exercises I do like push ups and squats.

    The forearm plank really works your core and it’s definitely part of my routine now, I didn’t realise it was an isometric exercise as I had learnt about isometric exercises decades ago but had forgotten all about them.

    So thank you for this reminder in your post, the other thing about them is that you can do them anywhere as you have said, you don’t have to go to a gym and it doesn’t cost you anything.

    • So true, Adrian! Many of the exercises that we do are isometric, yet we don’t realize it. I’ve found that thinking about these movements as isometric ones helps me to give the exercise my all and also to envision the mechanics of the exercise. This definitely helps my form!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

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