Isometrics have been around for a long time - I learned about them around the
time I started training. They are not the be-all-end-all, but a valuable tool
to know. They are great when you don't have any equipment, or to bring up your
strength in specific positions. You can do them virtually anywhere -
standing in line, in the bathroom, in a padded cell with a restraint system (car)...
Please keep in mind that your body can be amazingly strong in isometric contractions.
For your safety:
- Do not hold your breath, you could pass out.
- Position yourself properly, just like you would when lifting normal weights.
- In particular, don't round your back.
- Yes, you can break things... I tried out some cheap "forearm forklift" straps
from Aliexpress. The stitching held up for a few seconds. Use material that is rated
for a decent working load (at least a few hundred kg / over 500 lbs).
The Ultimate Isometrics Manual - book by Paul "Coach" Wade.
This is a manual for their reassuringly expensive Isochain device, but also provides
a wealth of information on the theory and history of isometrics, exercises without
equipment, and progressions for static calisthenics holds. Inexpensive on Kindle,
the book version is a bit more pricey.
Overcoming Isometrics - book by Matt Schifferle, using straps
for many exercises.
T-nation on Isometrics for mass
Isometric training and long-term adaptations: Effects of muscle
length, intensity, and intent: A systematic review
Build your own isometrics rig
The Isochain set costs over $500, and does not allow you to use different handles
or bars where appropriate. With my DIY setup, you will not get the electronic
force meter. What you need:
- Base plate (strong plywood - I used some 19 mm birch multiplex I had
around). Mine is about 50 x 60 cm, you can probably go smaller unless you have
- Some 2x4 pieces as stand-off - I used some wood salvaged from disposable
- Drill 4 holes in the center (10 or 12 mm diameter, spaced 60 mm). Use some backing
board for cleaner drilling...
- Use a bit of used climbing rope for the center connection point.
- Get a strapping set for securing car or truck loads. I found mine at a
local farm supply store. 2 pieces for about $3, 3.5m x 25 mm, rated for 500 kg /
1100 lbs. The straps will not last forever, but they are quick to adjust, and don't
make noise like a chain does.
- Use carabiners to connect things together. Hardware store carabiners
usually have sharp edges. Even the cheapest climbing carabiners are better quality,
and rated for a 22 kN load (about 2 tons).
- Use individual handles, or connect your ez-curl bar with a short
climbing sling or rope loop.
- Experiment 1: I made shoulder straps out of 50 mm wide straps, e.g. car seat
belts (used or new, the material can sometimes be found in crafts stores).
I made a loop with a
Result ? My legs love it. The skin around my shoulders - not so much...
- Experiment 2: I'm afraid a crane scale does not work well for force measurement -
it will not hold fluctuating force measurements.
- DIY video - another design by Hybrid Calisthenics
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