Do Isometrics Build Muscle?

Hello again,
Remember Charles Atlas and his program? He incorporated some self-resistance exercises, such as pitting one limb against the other, to maximize muscular output. While he was certainly a pioneer in physical exercise, things have changed a bit since then.

There are three ways a muscle can perform work: concentrically, which is pushing or pulling and decreasing the joint angle); eccentrically, which is the negative part of the repetition, lowering weight against a resistance thereby increasing the joint angle; and finally, isometrically, which is a static hold where the joint angle doesn’t change.

If you want to change your body, you will need to engage as many muscle fi- bers as possible. The concentric and eccentric phases are your bread and butter in that regard.
The concentric, or negative, part of an exercise is often wasted due to sloppy form. Yet your muscles can actually perform the most work during that movement. Try to devote one to two sets per exercise where you give the negative part two to three seconds; you will be sore the next day!
What about isometrics? A study from NASA has shown that they fail to prevent the breakdown of contractile proteins, which cause the muscle to degrade and lose strength. So as a form of training in itself, isometrics are not very helpful. An exception would be physical rehabilitation—helping someone recovering from an injury to relearn functional muscle movements. They could also be a good add-on to a weight-li ing routine. Once you have completed a set to the point where you simply cannot move the weight another inch, try and perform a static hold for fi een seconds. Good exercises for this technique would be leg extensions, pectoral dec, pullovers, and concentration curls.

Another way to use isometrics, according to Bill Star, would be to implement them as a light workout during
the week, almost as an active recovery. Find a rack and lock the bar in a position of overhead presses, three sets of twelve seconds, then pulls and squats. Press the bar as hard as you can for each repetition. The whole workout should not take more than 15 minutes. This would be a good way to keep your strength levels up if you perform in a sport on the weekends and don’t want to fatigue your SNS. Just don’t expect too much muscle growth from it.
Till next time!
Maik Wiedenbach