Isometrics are one of the most effective training tools in your toolbox. They are effective, safe and have a lot of research behind them.
They are also extremely versatile. You can use them in different ways to accomplish different goals, including getting stronger, helping you prepare for a better workout and making your regular exercises harder and more effective.
I recorded a video/ podcast sharing 3 ways that you can use isometrics to help you get better results from your training program. You can watch the video replay or listen to the audio replay through the link below. You can also find the podcast on Itunes, Podbean, Spotify and all other major podcasting platforms.
By Themselves To Get Stronger
Isometrics are a great way to get stronger and increase your fitness by themselves.
They are also super convenient and can easily be done anywhere with very little equipment (or no equipment at all if you only have bodyweight).
Be sure to use both Overcoming and Yielding Isometrics.
Overcoming is where you push into something that you can’t move.
Ramping Isometrics are a great method to use – 30 sec. @ 50% effort/ 20 sec. @ 80% effort/ 10 sec. @ 100% effort
Yielding is where you hold a position against something trying to push or pull you out of it.
Hold positions for 30 – 90 seconds or more.
One exercise per muscle group/ movement pattern and one set to near failure.
As A Warm Up/ Activation Technique
You can use isometrics as a way to get ready for your workout.
You can do an isometric hold of the exercise you are going to do.
You can also do an “isolated isometric” to target an area that you need turned on for one or more exercises.
For example, if you are going to do Deadlifts you could do an isometric Deadlift or you could do an isometric for a problem area – Doing a hold for the back of your neck will also activate your entire posterior chain and make it easier to use it when lifting.
If you are using them as a Warm Up/ Activation Technique then don’t go all out, you don’t want to exhaust yourself before you train or you could increase the risk of injury – no more than 80% effort.
Combined With Movement Based Exercises To Increase Intensity
You can use isometrics to make your “regular” exercises harder and more effective.
One way is to do a 3-5 second isometric hold at the bottom of every rep.
This not only increases the time under tension in a weak range of motion but you also get rid of the stretch reflex where your muscles use elastic energy to help lift the weight.
This type of strength is known as Starting Strength and is important on the bike since you don’t have the advantage of loading up a movement like other sports.
You can also add an isometric hold at the beginning and end of an exercise.
Do a 10 second hold at the weakest point in the range of motion, do 10 reps and then do another 10+ second hold at the weakest point in the range of motion.
For a Split Squat this would look like holding for 10 seconds with the knee at a 90 degree angle, doing 10 reps and then holding again for 10 seconds with the knee at a 90 degree angle.
This increases the time under tension and allows you to access higher levels of tension in a safe way.
This is a great way to build strength-endurance, which is important on the bike.
As you can see Isometrics have a lot to offer and a lot of ways to work them into your program. I’d recommend adding these training techniques into your program to improve your results and decrease your risk of getting hurt while training or riding.
Until next time…
p.s. The Atomic Strength Training Program is the only MTB specific isometric workout program in the world and what I recommend to any rider who wants to start tapping into the power of isometrics for themselves. It combines Overcoming and Yielding Isometrics into a 15 minute workout that is guaranteed to improve your strength and fitness.