Isometric training combines strength with flexibility. The idea behind this is that your muscles can not reach their full potential for flexibility when they are not strong enough. Isometric stretching is the living proof that strength and flexibility can go hand in hand together!
Do not use when you have a history of (severe) muscle injuries, joint problems or tendon issues. Always consult a medical professional to make sure you can work out safely before trying a new workout!
The isometric contraction you use for this technique puts a lot of pressure on your muscles and tendons. Therefore, it is crucial for you to make sure that your musculature is developed as well. This means you have done a lot of strength training and dynamic exercises to strengthen the muscles, before trying to use this style of stretching.
To start you will first find your flexibility limit. When you are advanced you know how this works. If not you are not ready to do isometric stretching. In that case get more experience and read the article about relaxed stretching.
Once you have reached that flexibility limit you will tense your muscles. Simply contract them as if you are showing of your biceps. Either completely focus on the muscle you are stretching or contract all muscles in your lower body. In both cases you will target the muscle that is stretched.
If this is the very first time you do this technique start of slowly. Do not put too much stress on your muscles. Gradually build it up and take some rest in between sets too. Even with this advanced stretching technique you should not feel pain! Discomfort is normal during stretching, especially with this technique. Yet pain should be avoided at all times. It means you are going too far.
Always do a warm up before you perform isometric stretches. Start with some cardiovascular exercises for 5 á 10 minutes. After that do some strength exercises (e.g. squats) and then some light stretching. If you have the feeling, during or after the workout that you are getting hurt you should stop the training and discontinue until you are recovered completely. If necessary, visit a medical professional!
1. The contraction during the stretch should be hold for 10-20 seconds. Holding it longer means you are not using a proper technique. Isometric means you put as much force on a muscle as you can for only a very short amount of time.
2. You can do this for 2 to 4 sets per exercise. Only use one exercise for one muscle though (so one hamstring exercise, one glutes exercise, etc.
3. Never perform this technique two days in a row.
4. 3 of these workouts each week is the limit.
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