Brandon Carter | Start Here

Isometric Workouts for Freaky Strength and Muscle Gains

There are multiple ways of gaining strength and muscle besides lifting a heavy weight for X repetitions. Isometric workouts are an alternative form of training that is all too often ignored.

In a way, I can understand why isometrics don’t get the same kind of love compared to traditional weight lifting.

The former certainly doesn’t have the same gratifying sensation you feel after a conventional workout in which your muscles feel absolutely pumped. Make no mistake, though, isometrics are just as effective for muscle and strength development.

Yes, Isometrics Build Lean Muscle

For some reason, there is this idea that isometrics are great for developing core strength but are not as effective for muscle growth.

I think since isometrics are typically used in yoga and pilates routines that they are thought of as more of a toning exercise, which is craziness since there is no such thing as toning a muscle.

If you’re in doubt, though, that keeping your muscles in a static position for a fixed length of time builds muscle, then this study should erase your skepticism. In the research, subjects that followed an isometric routine saw a 12.4% average mass increase after 10 weeks.

Isometric Exercises

There’s no shortage of isometric varieties you can employ into your workout. Some of the more well-known exercises include the plank and wall chair.

Most of them actually include regular exercises that you already do. To execute the isometrics version, you remain in a static position with your body at the mid-point of the movement.

For example, if you were doing pushups to exercise your chest, then you would hold your body still when it’s at the point between the starting and bottom position.

Isometric exercises can be done using only your bodyweight, with weights, resistance bands, or with machines.

Example Workout

legs Wall chair 3 sets
chest bench press (hold bar at halfway point) 3 sets
back Pullups or lat pulldowns (pause at halfway position) 3 sets
shoulders Lateral raise (hold dumbbells with arms at 45 degrees or parallel with floor) 3 sets
biceps Preacher curls (hold bar at halfway position) 3 sets
abs plank 3 sets

As with conventional weight training, keep the rest period between sets brief, preferably no more than a minute.

Also notice that I didn’t specify a time duration for each set. That’s because there is no specific duration; you just continue to hold the position until your body fails.

It’s just as important that you train to failure in an isometric workout as you do in a typical strength training regimen.

Combine Isometrics With Your Normal Routine

Closeup of women couple training hard over steppers in aerobic class on a fitness center. Sport and health concept.

A training session doesn’t have to be entirely isometrics or completely regular training. Combine the two to really torture your muscles.

Every now and then I like to throw in a set or two of isometrics for each exercise after performing my regular muscle contraction exercises.

In other words, I may do a set of wall chairs immediately after heavy barbell squats, or do a set of planks to cap off my normal ab workout. It’s a great way to put an exclamation point to an already sweat-busting workout.

Your Limits Will Be Tested

I must warn you right now that an isometric workout is no joke. Your threshold for pain will be tested.

Remember, though, you have to train to failure; if you stop when you know you could’ve held the position for another five seconds or so, then you just cheated yourself out of becoming stronger.

Here’s an idea to consider: if your muscles did not quiver when you ended the set, then you did not train to failure.

When you reach the point where your muscles are trembling, use your mental fortitude to hold the position for just another five seconds. When the five seconds are up (it can feel like an eterminty), push yourself to go another five, and then another until your muscles involuntarily give out.

Believe me, you will be hurting during those last few seconds...

This is why I recommend taking Rebellion. It won’t make you immune to the pain, but the pre-workout supplement will deposit a little extra energy in you so you can hold on just a few seconds longer with each isometric set.