Overcoming Isometrics

Sep 29, 2022

Edited by: Danielle Abel

Overcoming Isometrics for Strength

Overcoming isometrics exercises can help you to ramp up your maximal force. The idea of overcoming isometric movements is that they allow more time to be spent under load against fixed or immovable objects.

For example, most concentric movements allow only 2 to 3 seconds of force output during the concentric phase because of the limitations of being able to "hold" a load for a given time concentrically.

Since the muscle can only "move" so far during an isometric contraction, you can only spend so much time in the isometric phase of that movement. Moreover, if the load is heavy, it's probably likely that gravity won't allow you to spend more time in the concentric portion of the movement because the load is heavy, and gravity wants to pull it downward. 

Peak Force Development

Essentially you wouldn't be able to spend more time in the concentric phase of a heavy back squat because of the load on your body. So overcoming isometric movements can improve peak force output by forcing loading for longer, 3 seconds, 4 seconds, or 5 seconds, isometrically. 

Overcoming isometrics can be helpful for:

  • Joint angle-specific strength
  • Strength 10-20 degrees outside of the intended joint angle being trained 

Plus, since overcoming isometrics promote maximal motor unit (fast twitch fibers) they can be used to achieve post-activation potentiation (a phenomenon defined by Robbins (2005), in which the force exerted by a muscle is increased due to its previous contraction) if contrast training is being used where 2 similar movements are being trained - one using an overcoming isometric resistance training movement and one that's a regular dynamic resistance training movement. 

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Ready for even more support? Our Program Design 101 Course teaches you exactly how to organize an annual training plan, select exercises, and even provides sport-specific examples, including done for you programming templates by phase. Click the link here to check it out.

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