I'm an isometrics devotee. If you're unfamiliar with isometric training it is very simply the contraction of a muscle or series of muscles without moving the angle to the joint. Essentially you tense and hold a muscle in a given position without moving for a set number of seconds. Doesn't sound like much does it. I mean you're not even moving. But Isometrics are the most intense form of physical exertion - and the most effective.
In this article I want to introduce to some of the physical benefits of Isometrics, but beyond that I want to share with you the great secret of Isometrics, beyond the ripped, warm marble physiques, beyond the near superhuman physical strength (I leg pressed over 17,000 lbs during a one and a half minute period in my last workout), but the remarkable mental strength one develops - The Immovable Mind.
Isometric Training is the SINGLE most effective method of strength training available. In 1954 two German Scientist, Muller and Hettinger conclusively proved in over 5,000 independent clinical trials, that one could increase strength by 5-15% with a single 7 second stimulation once a week. Subjects in a later study performing a daily 7 second contraction increased their strength by 72% in 46 weeks. The fall of strength after the end of training is very slow. 70 weeks after the end of training their strength was still 42% higher than before the beginning of training. After doing nothing for over a year and a half they were still 42% stronger than when they started. Since then hundreds of studies have been conducted reinforcing this conclusion.
Isometrics are, due to their static nature an incredibly safe form of training and far safer than weight lifting which can cause severe problems not just to pressure and, bone and joint shearing but have been shown to seriously damage the heart. More over you can train in isometrics without moving, using contraction alone, or you can alternatively use your bodyweight or various bands and cables should you wish - depending on what resources you have and what your current fitness levels are. There are an infinite number of ways to incorporate Isometrics into you daily life or workout routines. And the best part is you can finish a workout in as little as 7 seconds per muscle – so you can finish working out your entire body in less than 3 minutes of exercise. What’s more, at advanced levels, you don’t have to exercise every day. :-)
From a physical point of view Isometrics offers safer, more effective and rapidly more time efficient results in terms of muscle building and strength...but that's not their greatest gift...that is within the realm of the mind.
I train in the martial arts, in particular, Japanese Swordsmanship daily. It's a cornerstone of my life, so my sword is very important to me. A lot of time and thought went into the design of my sword and it reflects my desire to improve myself. Why am I telling you this? Because of the little man on the handle of the sword (tsuka). I have an image of a Buddhist deity known as Fudo Myo-o. Now I am not a Buddhist, and for me this images contains no religious significance, but I like the mythology of this guy.
Fudo Myo-o legend tells us is a guardian of the Buddhist Deities. He is often depicted as livid blue in colour standing upon a rock covered in flames. In his right hand he holds a sword, in his left a rope. Fudo uses the sword to cut through delusion and untruth. He uses the rope to bind these. And while I won't go into the philosophy behind Fudo at length, he represents to martial artists and warriors (bushi) the concept of an immovable mind.
Isometrics teaches us to strain our muscles maximally against and immovable force. As a result we grow remarkably strong and thick muscles. To do this however, to strain the muscles voluntarily to their upmost requires great mental strength, great will. Isometrics thus teaches us to not only to develop the strength of the body, but the strength or our minds; an immovably strong Isometric Mind. In Japanese this is called "Fudōshin" (Japanese: 不動心) a mental state of equanimity or imperturbability (literally and metaphorically, "immovable mind", "immovable heart" or "unmoving heart"). It is a philosophical or mental dimension to Japanese martial arts which contributes to the effectiveness of the advanced practitioner. This is turn gives the isometric trainee great mental clarity and teaches them to cut through the delusions and loose ends that sap you of energy, distract you from purposeful and productive action and ensures that you reach your goals without interruption.
Incomplete actions drain our energy; they are the quite leak that sinks the ship. They manifest in many ways, a dietary plan that's on the fridge but is never followed through on, someone ripping you off leading to a lingering resentment, or as experience with being "halfway" through that "project" for MONTHS.
You've probably noted by now, much of my philosophy (I have a degree in Philosophy by the way) is rooted in the Japanese Martial arts. There is a reason for this. The concept used to succeed in life and death combat can be applied to any struggle, this includes the work / life balance, work itself, diet and training and more. Unsurprisingly the primary method of strength development in the martial arts is Isometrics. The trick to success in any endeavor and in Isometrics is to apply that small amount of will power to keep moving you in the right direction, to move you towards habitually right choices. For when we are in the habit of training, of eating well, of living well, we no longer have to expend will power on ensuring this. Then we can move on to the next goal knowing that we will automatically continue upon the path and repeat the steps necessary to succeed.
In order to succeed in Isometrics or any program or choice you make in life that steers you towards improvement and away from easy and comfortable choices that lead only to poor results and lifestyle you need Will Power and Awareness, Isometrics, carves both the body and the mind, providing you with an immovable bedrock of strength in each. With an Isometric Mind, Immovable Will, Fudoshin you can resolve yourself to confront poor habits and build better ones. Cut away your delusions and bad habit. It will be a battle, but one Isometrics can teach you to WIN.
If you'd like to learn more about Isometrics and the Isometric Mind check out my complete 7 Week Training Guide – 7 Seconds to A Perfect Body, The Scientifically Proven Method for Transforming Your Body in Just Seconds! Over 250 pages and filled with more than 100 photos it will transform your body from your face down to your toes, sculpting your physique and letting you develop astonishing strength with just seconds of exercise.
About the AuthorPaul "Batman" O’Brien, is a fully qualified Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner. He is also a certified in Western Clinical Medicine, Oriental Body Balance, and holds additional qualifications as a Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Whole Body Vibration Trainer.