Isometric exercises build strength by working the muscles against each other. When performing an isometric exercise, the joint angle and muscle length do not fluctuate as the muscle being worked contracts. When muscles contract, they shorten in length.
The word isometric comes from two words. Iso means the same and metric means distance. Isometric exercises are not geared towards people who perform exercises and sports that require quick bursts of strength. Isometric exercises are meant to exert the maximum amount of results with no outside resistance.
Isometric exercises do not increase the speed of the body part performing the exercise. Rather, they focus on strengthening the specific muscle that is being trained. Isometric exercises are meant to build strength and condition the body and provide rehabilitation as they focus on a specific muscle at a specific angle or rotation.
These exercises are designed to not add stress to the joints being worked. Certain sports use isometric training to condition specific body parts that are predominately used while performing the sport. Examples of sports that use isometric resistance training are climbing, mountain biking and gymnastics.
The pros of isometric resistance training include the maximization of specific muscle groups while training them one at a time. The opposite of isometric training is isotonic training which involves weight training. While a weight training exercise may focus on one specific region of the body, additional muscles are used in the training process.
For example, if you are working to build your chest muscles, you are inadvertently using your triceps as well because they are connected with the pectoral muscles. An isometric is much faster than an isotonic exercise. As previously mentioned, isometric exercises are done to build the strength of individual muscles, not muscle groups.
Some of the disadvantages of isometric exercises are that they do not circulate the blood as much as with isotonic, or weight training. Because of this, muscle endurance is reduced. Isometric training is not meant to increase speed. Performing isometric exercises may slow down your muscle’s response time. Isometric exercises are not as intense as isotonic exercises and may be perceived as boring. Because of the strain of focusing on a specific muscle, a person’s blood pressure could greatly increase resulting in an irregular heartbeat.