Underutilized Rep Manipulation Part 2: Movement Isometrics

In an early blog, I covered some of the benefits of using classic isometrics to increase strength qualities and develop mental fortitude.  Now I will demonstrate what a “movement isometric” is and why I absolutely love to use them in training.  

Movement isometrics are just as they sound, they are isometric positions held during a movement.  A perfect example of a movement isometric is a pause back squat in the hole.  The lifter takes the bar off the rack, performs the eccentric portion of the lift under control, then sits in the hole for a prescribed period of time.  This could be 2 seconds to 15 seconds.  Another example could be used in the snatch.  A lifter lifts a bar off the floor with a snatch grip and the intention of finishing a full snatch.  While the bar is at knee height, the individual will hold that position for 5-7 seconds before completing the lift.  A third example can be used in a pull up position.  The athlete is hanging off a pull up bar with fully extended arms, they pause in the hanging position for 3 seconds, then complete the concentric portion of the lift by raising their body to the bar, when the chin is over the bar, they hold that position for a prescribed period of time which will finish off another movement isometric during a lift.

What are the benefits?  I have found that pauses in the deep squat or overhead position can lead to much more stable positions in the bottom of the lift and can also improve and rapidly teach the proper technique for holding those positions in the bottom.  I have also found that pauses on pulls work wonders.  Dr. Stuart McGill has pointed out that the lower back responds well to isometric contractions and stimulation.  What better way than to use an isometric contraction during the actual lift to teach your body how to properly recruit in certain weak positions.  It is also a very simple method to use for increasing time under tension and for targeting countless weak points!

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