Isometrics: The Forgotten Source of Strength

List assembled by Brad Thorpe, RTSm, Isophit Inventor



noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction iso·met·rics

    1. exercise or a system of exercises in which opposing muscles are so contracted that there is little shortening but a great increase in tone of muscle fibers involved.
    2. (Student Definition) - exercise or a system of exercises in which force is applied to an unmoving object (as a wall) so that opposing muscles are contracted with little shortening of muscle fibers and no movements of joints


Looking to learn more on strength training?  Dipping back to Merriam-Webster, 2 definitions that can be associated with training are, "the capacity for exertion or endurance" or "the power to resist force".  Though not a dynamic movement, isometrics contractions create tension, which we can see by definition above, can create strength amongst other benefits.  The example that is most likely the most recognizable, is, "The Plank",

For a dose of knowledge acquisition (or possible review), below are 26 scientifically proven benefits of isometric strength training.  Number 25 is a game changer if you're interested in fat loss. Enjoy the list researched and assembled by Brad Thorpe, the inventor of the Isophit.

Hip Flexion and Extension Isometric Exercise

1. “Isometric resistance training lowers Systolic Blood Pressure, Diastolic Blood Pressure, and mean arterial pressure. The magnitude of effect is larger than that previously reported in dynamic aerobic or resistance training. Our data suggest that this form of training has the potential to produce significant and clinically meaningful blood pressure reductions and could serve as an adjunctive exercise modality.”

The Journal of the American Heart Association (2013)

2. “…while there is direct evidence of an association between neck isometric training or strength and injury risk. A retrospective analysis of professional rugby union players revealed that isometric training reduced match-related cervical spine injuries and a prospective study found that greater overall isometric neck strength reduced concussion risk in high school athletes.”

Sports Med (2016)

3. “This study suggests that greater isometric muscle strength in youth is associated with lower levels of cardiovascular risk factors in young adulthood independent of fitness, adiposity and other confounding factors.”

The British Journal of Sports Medicine (2013)

4. “Older adults experienced similar reductions in pain following several different intensities and durations of isometric contractions.

American College of Sports Medicine (2013)

5. “Isometric cervical muscle strength mitigates head impact severity”

British Journal of Sports Medicine (2013)

6. “Isometric stabilization exercises reduce pain and enhance vitality as dimensions of Health Related Quality of Life among women with chronic low back pain with such effects lasting for at least nine months”

Journal of Physical Health and Activity (2013)

7. “Isometric exercise is a fundamental component of both nonoperative and postoperative rehabilitation of shoulder instability”

Current Orthopaedic Practice (2013)

8. “Data from a small number of isometric resistance training studies suggest this form of training has the potential for the largest reductions in Systolic Blood Pressure.”

Journal of the American Heart Association (2013)

9. “Isometric strength training can have beneficial effects on performance during endurance events”

European Journal of Applied Physiology (2012)

10. “Isometric exercises not only prevent reduction of bone density, but may also increase the mineral density of the injured bone.”

Journal of the Facility of Medicine (2012)

11. "Early introduction of isometric exercise is a relevant choice in cases of patients with sciatica caused by the disc herniation.”

Isokinetics and Exercise Science (2011)

12. “Following musculoskeletal pathology, where a disorder of muscle onset timing has been identified, practitioners should consider the use of isolated (isometric) muscle training to restore the timing of muscle onset.”

Physical Therapy in Sport (2011)

13. “Study revealed that localized isometric exercises have been effectual in reducing the fat percentage”

Annals of Biological Research (2011)

14. “This data also suggests that increases in “isometric” strength may be associated with better hitting performance.”

Chinese Journal of Sports Biomechanics (2013)

15. “These findings suggest that isometric training may be an important addition to ACL injury prevention programs.”

Journal of Electormyography and Kinesiology (2014)

16. “Maximum isometric strength also is likely to have a strong role in weightlifting performance.”

The Journal Of Sports Medicine And Physical Fitness (2013)

17. "Besides blood pressure, isometric exercise is associated with other beneficial effects consisting of an increase in muscle bulk, upper and lower body strength, increases in bone density, and a decrease in bone fractures. These changes are extremely beneficial to older patients by making them more mobile and increasing their quality of life.”

The Journal of Clinical Hypertension (2010)

18. “In fact, using isometric exercise for 6 minutes would be the equivalent muscle work of 30 to 35 minutes of gym work on commercial weight lifting equipment.”

Journal of Applied Research (2006)

19. “Stretching and aerobic exercising alone proved to be a much less effective form of training than isometric strength training."

Journal of the American Medical Association (2003)

20. “The weight loss for some subjects in the first 2 weeks was as high as 8.4 kg while after 4 weeks (of isometric exercise). Some subjects lost as much as 10.1 kg in body weight."

The Journal of Applied Research (2007)

21. “In male and female athletes across the age spectrum, greater “isometric” neck strength and anticipatory cervical muscle activation ("bracing for impact") can reduce the magnitude of the head's kinematic response.”

The American Journal of Sports Medicine (2014)

22. “The results indicate that isometric exercise increased femoral bone blood flow from rest to low intensity exercise, but blood flow did not increase further with increasing intensity.”

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (2013)

23. “The results suggest that explosive force production during isometric squats was associated with athletic performance. Specifically, sprint performance was most strongly related to the proportion of maximal force achieved in the initial phase of explosive-isometric squats, whilst jump height was most strongly related to absolute force in the later phase of the explosive-isometric squats.”

Journal of Sports Sciences (2013)

24. “Explosive isometric training has been shown here to provide similar benefits to that of plyometric training with respect to the measured variables, but with reduced impact forces, and would therefore provide a useful adjunct for athletic training programs”

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2007)

25. “The possibility of different energy costs is suggested by the fact that the metabolic changes resulting from a 30sec isometric contraction of the quadriceps are similar to those of a 30sec maximal sprint. During an isometric contraction the muscle is continually active but when sprinting the quadriceps muscle is used only for a limited period during each stride, so the total duration of the muscle contraction during a 30sec sprint can only be a fraction of the overall duration of the exercise.”

Journal of Physiology (1995)

26. “In this group of patients we were able to show that guided isometric training of the paravertebral muscles can be safely practiced in palliative patients with stable bone metastases of the vertebral column, improving their pain score and mobility.”

BCM Cancer (2014)

Personal Reason.....

Bruce Lee implemented them. 🙂


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