Fitness Rush Personal Training Blog

How low do you go?

How low do you go?

Understanding isometric pauses

If we look at the definition of an "isometric exercise", we discover that it is a method of strength training which sees the joint angle and muscle length to stay the same during a contraction.

We do however use the knee, hip and ankle joints when performing the squat but by including the isometric hold at the bottom of the movement, this can be the key to strength and mass building progressions.

By implementing this pause, all momentum is taken out of the equation which limits your stretch reflex and encourages your body to recruit as many motor units as possible to lift the weight sufficiently.

If we look a motor unit, we can understand that is made up of a single nerve cell (neuron) which supplies a group of skeletal muscles. These cells then receive signals from your brain and in turn, stimulate all of the muscle fibres which are being recruited. The more they are stimulated, the further they will grow and the stronger they will become.

This method will not only force your body to build strength quickly to overcome the new way of lifting a dead weight but encourage control throughout the movement.

Whereas before you might've been lifting a certain weight with a fast eccentric (downward) phase, followed by a jerking motion, allowing you to propel yourself back to safety past your sticking point, this method will help break plateaus and bring a whole new meaning to hell day (sorry, I mean leg day).

Now, instead of allowing yourself to gain momentum with a bouncing movement at the bottom of the exercise, you will be holding a static position with your knees bent at 90° for at least 2 seconds, which will keep maximum tension on your quadriceps and recruit as many muscle fibres and motor units as possible.

This will not only help you beat the sticking point on your squat which has plagued your mind for months, but help increase the initial phase of the deadlift and other multi joint exercises.

I wouldn't only limit it to lower body exercises either, the isometric pause method can work well towards pretty much all exercises, especially if you've been struggling to overcome a certain weight.

Don't be fooled

Of course, with the pause, comes a whole new way of lifting. So be advised that a decrease in your weights may be necessary and you can always increase from there. Be patient and the benefits will outweigh the effort involved during this gruelling way of training.

Give it a go and thank me later.