Sunday, February 28, 2010

Isometric Holds Goals

Question: Hello, I am a budoka, and am currently training with competitive goals. My present strength training routine consists of bodyweight exercises, such as one-legged squats, handstand pushups and chin-ups. I am not in particularly good shape, so the resistance I'm getting seems pretty sufficient.

Lately, I have been incorporating certain bodyweight exercises that help to strengthen my core. It seems that although I am strong in most bodyweight exercises, my core is not. So I decided to add in some planks and hip bridges into my workouts.

I've tried some of this stuff out, and it is appealing to me. But I'd like to know more about the effects such exercises have. In particular, if I try to use them for strength/power rather than endurance, are there any guidelines for time limits, since I obviously can't count reps

Thank you,

Mika Heino
Answer: Isometric exercises are great for building overall endurance of the muscles that cross joints. The muscles that make up our "core" actually work isometrically day in and day out. For example, the muscles of the lower traps and erectors work to keep us erect throughout the day. If they are weak and deconditionied, eventually they tire and our posture begins to slouch. Isometric holds help to strengthen muscles that work in unison to stabilize a joint. Here are some sample hold times that I use with clients to measure their progress. Typically, a baseline is recorded and then we conduct a re-assessment in 3 week intervals. I believe it was physical therapist/strength coach, Bill Hartman who came up with some norms for these basic iso holds, so I suggest you check out his work.

Planks: Goal - hold for 3 minutes without rest

Hip Bridge: Goal - hold for 2 minutes without rest

Side Plank: Goal - hold for 1.5 minutes without rest (each side)


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