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Do you like making gains from your workouts? Do you want a way to make gains that doesn't cost a thing? You don't even have to add weight. Look no further. They're called Isometrics.

 

Isometrics are simply a pause in the exercise. You can pause anywhere in the movement. On the way down, at the bottom, on the way up at the top. You can literally place an isometric almost anywhere in almost any exercise.

Why would you do that? Because isometrics can help break plateaus and lead to gains.

 

INCREASE INTENSITY

One way isometrics can help is to increase the intensity of your work. As you lower down through the eccentric of a movement, you build up stored energy. That stored energy can be released to create a more powerful concentric or lifting phase. You can test this with a vertical jump. Stand in place and swing down fast then explosively jump upward. The eccentric movement gives assistance to the concentric and you end up feeling like you should be on the next pair of Air Jordans.

Now, try the same thing but this time with an isometric. Lower down to the bottom of the squat again, but this time, pause there for five seconds before you explode upward. Your height will be much lower and you'll likely feel you had to work a lot hard to achieve the same height. That is because the isometric pause at the bottom was so long it allowed the stored energy to be released and you had no assistance to complete the jump.

No assistance isn't a bad thing though. Now YOUR body has to work harder and your muscles have to do more work. This means more gains. And it didn't even require any fancy equipment. Just the ability to count upward! Easy gains!

Pausing at the bottom of movements like chin-ups and especially squats and push movements can increase the "load" your muscles have to work with and help you make more gains.

 

INCREASE HYPERTROPHY

Isometrics can also help with hypertrophy by fatiguing your muscles faster. You can try this out as well. Get down on the ground in push-up position, bend your arms a bit, and hold.

In time, you'll begin to feel a burning feeling. As your arms are contracting, it limits blood flow and fatigues your muscles. When you're at the top of the push-up, you may have this feeling that your muscles can "breathe" again but when you bend your arms, you'll begin to feel that familiar burn.

Creating muscular fatigue is one of the keys to creating hypertrophy so this is a great way to help cause it. When doing chin-ups, you can pause at the top of the movement when your chin is over the bar to make the movement a bit more fatiguing and help you reach your goal of causing hypertrophy.

And then you have yet another reason isometrics are awesome. More gains without even having to "move".

 

INCREASE WORK VOLUME

Another way to use isometrics is to increase the volume (how many reps you do) of work you can do.

You can do this by holding the lockout position of certain movements to regain just enough energy to bang out a few more reps or add more weight to the set. For example with squats, you may be doing five reps. You do all five with 100 pounds. But if you add a 3 second pause at the top of the movement, you may be able to use 105 pounds or maybe do 6 reps.

The reason for this is the rest at the top of the movement let's you regenerate enough energy to continue the set. And it doesn't take long. A few seconds goes a long way toward adding an extra rep or an extra few pounds. And all you have to do is pause, once again.

 

And there you have it. Isometrics are a great tool to get you aboard the gain train!