Is isometric training beneficial for weight loss?

Absolutely. Isometric training involves effort being placed in order to sustain muscle contractions and this effort involves caloric expenditure. In addition, sustained contractions have the ability to stimulate motor units within a muscle fiber. (Clark 2008) This in turn can improve muscle endurance and postural control. Over time, these benefits allow an individual to sustain prolonged contractions and even train with loads to improve strength, prevent injury, and further increase caloric expenditure. A recent study showed that isometric training, combined with a dietary program, results in both weight loss and a reduction in numerous circumference measurements after only one month. (Petrofsky 2007) Combining exercise such as isometric training with an appropriate diet can help accelerate weight loss in most individuals.
Eric Beard
Sports Medicine
Isometric training can assist with weight loss but a comprehensive approach is most effective. Adjusting your calorie intake to eat the proper amount for you is a powerful first step. From there a resistance training program that utilizes major muscle groups and incorporates all the muscular actions performed 2-3 times per week will help. You can perform 15-20 repetitions for 2-3 sets and rest 30 seconds between sets. The three types of muscular actions are; isometric actions (where the muscle stays the same length-like when you are trying hard to open a jar of jelly or pickles that won't budge), concentric actions (when a muscle shortens like your biceps when you pick something up off of the floor) and eccentric actions (your hamstrings when you bend over at the waist without bending your knees). Your good friend cardio will help to burn stored fat and your core and flexibility work keep you healthy and able to keep up with the rest of your program and everyday life!
Yes, because even though you are not moving the muscle, as you are when doing concentric or eccentric movements, you are contracting the muscle and thus exerting energy, burning calories.

I like combing an isometric move with the traditional bicep curl. Hold a free weight in your right hand with your elbow at a 90 degree. Contract the bicep to hold that angle and with your left arm perform 15 bicep curls, then switch to the other side. That is one set, do 2-3 sets. You can use this type of training with other muscle groups too.
Isometric training can definitely aid weight loss. When a muscle contracts isometrically it is exerting force equal to what is placed on it. This result is known as a "static contraction.” You will see no visible movement in the angle of the joint or in the muscle length in isometric exercises. An example of a great isometric exercise is the "Plank Pose,” which targets your core muscles.

Isometric exercises will aid weight loss in three ways. First, as you challenge yourself with these isometric movements, you will be burning additional calories (and for weight loss you must always create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume). Second, isometric movements (along with eccentric and concentric movements) will build lean muscle mass. When you have more lean muscle mass you will burn more calories at rest. This will also help you create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss. Finally, isometric movements are used to help "stabilize" the body and can correct postural imbalances. When your posture is aligned correctly you can train with heavier loads and complete all of your exercises more efficiently. This may help you achieve a greater range of motion in all your movements and help prevent injuries, all of which can increase caloric expenditure.  
Without question, isometric training is a form of active muscle recruitment. Anytime you can actively recruit your muscles, you will increase expenditure of energy. Increased expenditure of energy combined with a daily caloric deficit will ultimately become beneficial in your weight loss program.

Using isometric exercises in an integrated fitness program can help with weight loss. Isometric muscle actions make up one of three types of movement within the muscle action spectrum. These movements include concentric (muscles shorten to produce force/move a joint), eccentric (muscles contract to reduce forces), and isometric (muscles contract to hold a joint stationary) actions. The body must be able to fully use all of these muscle actions in order to remain in an optimum functional status.

Isometric exercises are important to perform at the beginning of any weight loss program for several reasons. First, isometric exercises require that you engage muscles that are primarily used to stabilize your joints. Stability of the spine and hips is crucial prior to moving your other limbs. Optimum levels of stability can lead to increased physical performance and reduce risk of injury. They also help to build a base of stability strength and muscle endurance needed to perform more advanced exercises and weight loss program progressions. Performing isometric actions (contracting a muscle to hold a position) can also help you engage more muscles per exercise and truly optimize the results you receive from every workout.

Sadly, most traditional exercise programs only focus on the concentric phase (contracting a muscle to create movement). These programs do not allow the exerciser to develop the other 80% of muscles responsible for stability and reducing forces on the joints. Adding in eccentric actions to an exercise would mean you spend more time resisting the amount of load than moving it. Then, if you add an isometric hold to an exercise you help increase your muscles ability to stabilize your joints. Now you have a total body exercise going on that requires you to work harder. When your muscles work burn more calories. When you burn more calories during a increase your caloric deficit for the day. Achieving a targeted caloric deficit is needed in almost all weight loss programs.

Therefore, adding isometric exercises into your fitness program will help you achieve your caloric deficit goals. This will help you to systematically reach your weight loss goals at a faster rate and increase your total functional fitness.




Isometric training does help burn calories and can contribute to weight loss. However, it is best to also incorporate eccentric and concentric muscle contractions during your workout so you learn how to functionally control your body.

A basic resistance exercise has 3 major muscle actions or components to each repetition: concentric, eccentric and isometric. 
  • Concentric movement results in a shortening of a muscle, such as when you curl your arm towards your shoulder during a standard biceps curl.
  • Eccentric movement results in a lengthening of a muscle, such as lowering the weight down to the floor during a biceps curl.
  • During  isometric exercise there is no movement, basically the resistance is equal to the force you are applying during the exercise. Holding a dumbbell in mid air or for a pause at the top a biceps curl are both examples of isometric training. Isometric contractions are also an important part of controlling proper posture.
Most people new to exercise need to work on their stabilization strength. Isometric exercises such as the plank can help to improve control over the entire spine and hip complex. Normally, isometric exercises are performed for time and/or repetitions, with little rest in between sets or exercises. These exercises are crucial to develop true core stabilization strength which will be used during other exercises.

Weight loss occurs by lowering your daily caloric intake, burning additional calories via exercise or ideally a combination of both. Implementing isometric training along with the other muscle contractions during your workout will help you attain your weight loss goals.

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