Maximize Your Strength with Functional Isometric Training

Functional Isometric Strength Training is one of the best ways to enhance your strength and power while adding a little variety to your workouts.
Isometric movement is defined as when the muscle attachment closest and furthest away from the center of gravity maintains a constant length while force is being applied.
When combined with weight training or body weight exercises isometrics are known for their ability to impart incredible strength and power.

What are Functional Isometrics?
In Exercise Physiology there is a concept of specificity wherein when you train at specific joint angles, you build significant strength at the same angle and by training with isometric contractions at the sticking points, you can increase strength at these critical and limiting angles, thereby improving your overall strength in that particular exercise.
You can either use a machine with pins to block the barbell movement at a particular angle or make use of a spotter.
Functional isometrics are used by strength and conditioning coaches in all major sports. By integrating tri-specific FI, triathletes can achieve higher levels of strength and power exactly where they need it.
By incorporating FI into your strength plan, you will develop high levels of isometric strength, which will lead to an increase in power, speed and overall body strength.

Isometric Exercises for Major Areas:
The exercises which we are about to mention in this section can also be performed in form of reps instead of holding a static position but our focus will be on isometric benefits of these exercises.

1. Calf Raises: for calves

Stand on a low ledge, heels extending off of it.
Start by having your heels level with the ledge and then, slowly and with control, try to drop your heels below the level of the ledge and hold the position for an extended period of time.
Then, raise your heels back up a level to the ledge and repeat. This one can also be done on one leg or with holding weights in your hands and arms to increase the resistance.

2. Static Squats: for upper legs
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart (or wider if you want to make it easier) and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle.
Imagine sitting on an invisible chair or a stool. Hold that position for as long as you need or can!

3. The V sit: for core

Start by sitting on a flat surface, ideally the floor. Form a V position by lifting both your legs up, keeping them together and straight.
Your back should be straight so that you are holding a perfect V. Your legs should be at least six inches from the floor.
You can lift them higher up if you want. Hold this position for a while then drop your legs back to the floor slowly. Rest and repeat.

4. Iso Row: for Upper back

You’ll need a bar that’s about waist high. Grab on to it from underneath. Using a wide grip pull yourself up, keeping your core contracted and your body straight.
Pull yourself up all the way so that the bar touches your chest and hold. When you cannot hold it anymore, bring yourself down slowly. Rest and repeat.

5. The Superman: for Lower back

Lay on the floor on your belly. Extend your arms in front of you and keep them straight. The legs should be straight as well.
Pull both arms and legs upwards against gravity while keeping them straight, using your back muscles. The whole back should be bent as much as you can while you work against gravity to keep your arms and legs from touching the floor. Push arms and legs up as if you were trying to fold yourself and connect them together.
Hold this position for a moment then bring your arms and legs back to the floor, slowly. Rest and repeat.

6. Wide Plank: for Chest

Find something to rest both your feet on that’s not too high. Only about 4-5 inches high.
Standing tip-toe on that object, adopt a plank position with your arms extended in the shape of a T. Palms flat on the floor, fingers pointing to either side.
You should place your hands as wide as you can so that you’re still able to maintain yourself off the floor for an extended period of time but struggling too much doing it.
Your back and legs should be straight. Hold it, then let yourself drop down on your stomach slowly. Rest and repeat.

7. Iso-lateral raises: for Shoulders

Stand up, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold either in each hand dumbbells or something that’s heavy enough to be challenging.
Raise both arms simultaneously so that your body forms a T and hold that position for a while. Don’t forget to keep your arms straight, palms facing the floor and contract your abdominal muscles while breathing deeply.
When you’ve had enough, drop your hands slowly to your sides and rest. Repeat.
Things to Remember.
There are two things you should always keep in mind when exercising.
First – breathe! We have a natural tendency to hold our breath when lifting or making a physical effort. This should not be the case. Keep your attention on your breath and make sure you fill your body with fresh oxygen constantly.
Second – contract the core (the abdominal area) while doing an exercise. This helps with maintaining proper form as well as working the abdominal muscles no matter what other muscle group you are focusing on while doing a specific exercise.
Isometric Exercises are great to build strength and as for rehab but make sure they are only one part of your overall training arsenal.