How to Use Isometric Exercises to Build Muscle

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When you think about building muscle, you usually think of performing acentric and dicentric contractions of the muscle, which is the elongating of the muscle and shortening of the muscle while adding intense stress, using weight.

This has been the key to building muscle since the dawn of weight lifting.

But there is another powerful way to build muscle we are all forgetting about… isometrics.

Isometrics is a form of exercise causing stress to the muscle that does not require the use of our joints.

Check out the video below by Jeff Cavalier from Athlean X (check out my Athlean X review) on how to build muscle with isometric exercises then keep reading to discover the secrets of building muscle with isometric exercises.

How to Build Muscle with Isometric Exercises

Isometrics and Workout Plans

A fair question arises when you hear about isometric exercises, do they belong in your workout program?

Do they build muscle?

Of course, there are people that believe that using isometrics won’t build muscle, saying it’s a waste of time.

Here’s the thing, isometric exercises do in fact build muscle, when incorporated in your daily workout program. Don’t believe me? Take it from the pros, ​LiveStrong​ says, “Isometric exercise is intense and contributes to burning fat and building muscle”.

The great thing about isometric exercises is they usually don’t make you sore the next day because the move doesn’t use the eccentric lengthening of the muscle.

There are two types of isometric exercises you can incorporate into your workout, yielding isometrics and overcoming isometrics.

Yielding Isometrics

Yielding Isometrics is a great exercise to cause stress to your muscle.

The whole idea behind this move is to use gravity. Have you ever held your arm straight out and resisted it from lowering back down to your side?

If you have, you performed a yielding isometric move. Obviously, you would just be using your arm weight, the more stress you can create, the better the effect. You will want to hold a position and resist the elongation of your muscle.

In this case, this is similar to not lowering the muscle, like in shoulder flys, and keeping it in the top of the position. Speaking of shoulder flys, here are the best isometric shoulder exercises.

Overcoming Isometrics

Overcoming isometric exercises are things you probably do just about every day in the gym already.

When you are performing a bench press and you get stuck mid-way up and struggling to hold the weight in that position, that’s overcoming isometrics. When this happens, the acentric and dicentric part of the move is non-existent because you are trying to move weight that is now too heavy.

Now in overcoming isometrics, the idea is to use a weight that you can’t move, like your trying to move the unmovable. It usually is safer to use cables when setting your weight. Using cables, try to pull as hard as you can against that weight. This will create lots of tension, which you need for a hypertrophic response of the muscle.

The crazy thing is, the tension you create in an isometric exercise will actually be greater than the concentric contraction. Why is this? Well for one, as you perform the move you are able to build into that tension and with the extreme weight on the other end, increase the tension as you get comfortable.

In addition, it is effective because of the tension change in the various directions of the position you are in.

The Key to Building Muscle with Isometrics

When you perform isometric exercises, you want to get the most out of the tension.

You will want to increase the time under tension each move you do. So forget about that 15-20 second hold, you want to shoot for 30-60 seconds at a time.

For yielding isometrics, use 70-80% of the weight you would normally use in a particular exercise.

Overcoming isometrics requires you to load the weight up so you can’t even move it and try to hold that tension, the goal is to create as much force as you can.

Final Words on Building Muscle with Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises aren’t something you can just do once and call it good. You will have to be consistent by incorporating it in your gym plan.

Just remember, since there are no eccentric motions involved you actually don’t get sore the next day. This is a result of not tearing the muscle fibers in the elongating process of the moves.

Are you ready to give it a try? Check out the video above to see exactly how it’s done if you haven’t already.

Isometrics are just a puzzle piece that will make your workouts even better. Live it, learn it, love it, and the process will return the favor.

So until next time, stay lean, stay healthy, and stay hungry.