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08-23-2011, 06:51 PM #1
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- Jan 2010
What is Static Strength Training?
Static strength training (otherwise known as isometric training) is one of the best training regimens for strength gains. It is one of the five training modalities used in the weight room to develop strength; isotonic, isometric, isokinetic, variable, and closed linked exercise. Each of these training methods loads the muscle differently and has advantages and disadvantages in terms of strength development and overall effectiveness.
The most common method; Isotonic exercise, is one you are most likely familiar with. It occurs when a contracting muscle shortens against a constant load, such as when you perform a barbell bicep curl. Isometric (static strength) exercise, however, loads the muscle in one joint position so the muscle torque balances the resistance torque and no movement actually occurs. In other words, the muscle does not shorten or lengthen but remains in a fixed position. Other modalities include; variable resistance training which often uses cables or cams on machines to alter the mechanical advantage and add variability, isokinetic training which involves a controlled velocity with varying resistance and finally closed linked exercise which relies on body weight and eccentric and concentric muscle actions. Of these training modalities, isometric training is perhaps the least understood.
What do studies suggest about isometric exercise?
The studies show impressive support for isometric exercise and the gains it can help you achieve. In a study by Jones and Rutherford, quadriceps strength, cross sectional area and radiological density were analyzed during 12 weeks of either isometric (static) or isotonic strength training. The findings showed substantial increases in quadriceps force as a result of both forms of training; however isometric training showed the most notable increase -- a 35% increase. This study also showed that the force per unit area increased by about 25% as a result of the isometric training. Other research supports these findings and concludes that there is definitely a greater increase in force production and strength gains as a result of isometric training.
Is there a risk with isometric exercise?
For individuals with hypertension or other cardiovascular conditions this type of exercise can be dangerous as the spike in blood pressure may evoke a cardiovascular event. Individuals performing isometric exercise should focus on breathing rhythmically to regulate blood pressure. Other risks at the muscular level include perhaps tearing or straining muscle fibers in an attempt to maintain the contraction for a prolonged period.
What’s the best application for isometric training?
Isometric exercises can be performed with submaximal and maximal muscle action. Submaximal exercises would include a plank bridge or holding a light dumbbell at a 90 degree angle. Maximal exercises would include pushing against an immoveable object such as a wall or heavy weight. In practice, submaximal isometric exercises are used in strength development in rehabilitation following acute injuries or post operative periods. This type of training is also effective and appropriate for healthy individuals in the early phase of strengthening programs. Maximal isometric exercise is more effective for strength and conditioning. Power lifters take advantage of the strength gains by incorporating heavy resistance isometric exercise to enhance muscle size.
Should I incorporate isometric training into my program?
Unless you have a health complication, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be incorporated into a training regime. Start with submaximal isometric exercises and if appropriate graduate to maximal.