Workout Tips

The Lift Doctor: Isometric Training and Front Squat Technique

Follow this prescription to maximize your isometric training and front squat exercises.

The Lift Doctor: Isometric Training and Front Squat Technique

What are your thoughts on isometric workouts and their effectiveness?” – Alexander Pipes

Isometric training, where you create maximal tension in a muscle group while in a fixed position is a very effective means of training. Isometric training helps improve joint stability and muscular strength at the joint angle being trained; approximately +/- 15 degrees around the position you are holding. Because of this, isometrics can be great for targeting weaknesses for big lifts and for rehabbing injuries. For example, targetting a weakness of your chest when you’re benching can be overcome by hitting isometric holds for 5-10 seconds with the barbell at that position.

The most common isometric exercise that you’ve probably heard of is the plank. It trains core stability and develops muscular endurance in the muscle groups that support and surround the torso. 

The problem with isometric training, as stated in the benefits, is that you only develop strength at the specific joint angle you’re training. To create strength through a full range of motion for a movement pattern – for example the bench press – you would have to perform isometric holds at increments all the way through the bar path; from lockout to right above the chest. Isometric training definitely has its place in the weightroom, but is typically reserved for targeting weaknesses or – for advanced applications - as a superset with an explosive movement for enhanced motor unit recruitment and more powerful expressions.

Some ways to utilize isometric training with the three big lifts – bench, squat, and deadlifts – is the following: