The word isometric is formed by the combination of 2 words 'iso' meaning 'equal' and 'metric', which stands for 'length'. Isometric exercises involve force being applied to a resistant object.
In such exercises, the length of the muscle remains the same. The exercises involve tensing the muscles sans any actual movement. Isometric exercises are an important constituent of any exercise regimen. They help in strengthening isolated muscle groups. Examine various aspects of this form of exercise.
Understanding Isometric Exercise
Our body muscles can be divided into three main fibers - slow twitch fibers, intermediate twitch fibers and fast twitch fibers. In most muscles, they are intermingled. Slow twitch fibers can undergo extensive repetitive contraction without fatigue. In non-postural limb muscles like the arms and legs, the fast twitch fibers dominate. This allows for powerful forces to be generated over a relatively short period of time.
Isometric exercises must form a part of a complete exercise program and are not recommended in isolation for strength training. Isometric exercise on one muscle would need repetition of corresponding exercise at other joint positions for increased muscle strength.
Exercise 1: Take a 20-pound weight and do a bicep curl. Hold the position halfway between the repetitions for about 10 seconds. The length of your biceps muscle doesn't change during this time. A force is still being applied.
Exercise 2: Push against a wall for 10 seconds. The wall is stationary and the muscles remain in the same place. But a force is constantly being applied.
The exercises should be repeated about 5 to 10 times, ensuring maximum muscular contraction. They work on muscles and strengthen bones. The increased muscle mass elevates metabolism thereby burning fat. Isometric exercises are anaerobic in nature. They do not require increased oxygen production.
Such exercises are ideal when you want to focus on an isolated muscle group or a particular area. Isometric exercise routine is used to rehabilitate weak muscle groups by isolating them and strengthening them at proper joint angle. This helps in training those identified muscle groups with little chance of injury.
Facial Isometric Exercises
Working on the principle of exercising muscle groups against proper resistance, facial isometric exercises can help in toning the muscles of the face and throat. Such exercises seek to firm and shorten elongated facial muscles providing a firm and toned appearance. Results are noticed in the elasticity of the facial muscles after a regimen of facial isometric exercises.
Isometric exercises are not recommended for those with heart disease or high blood pressure. When you push against an object that doesn't move, your muscles contract and squeeze the blood vessels hard thereby raising blood pressure.
The extreme effort involved with isometric exercises causes considerable internal pressure both within the muscles themselves as well as abdominal and thoracic cavities. Isometric exercises are, however, extremely good for strengthening muscle groups around an injured joint as the joint surfaces actually distract from one another during isometric contraction.