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3 Ways to Use The Isochain to Enhance Your Dynamic Training

Since the first time I’ve tried them, I’ve found isometrics exercises to be the ultimate training hack to quickly and safely improve neuromuscular proficiency to generate muscle tension.

Not only does the increased ability to generate muscle tension improve overall strength, but it can also substantially enhance all other strength and conditioning methods. Whether you’re an endurance athlete, bodybuilder, or kettlebell enthusiast, isometrics training is the ultimate training hack for those disciplines as well.

Isochain Isometrics and Dynamic Training
Isometrics and dynamic training; go together like steak and potatoes!

There are three effective ways I coach clients how to use isometrics within a dynamic workout. Some athletes like to use just one of these methods to improve lagging areas of their training, while others use all three of these strategies to make the most of their training. Feel free to use these strategies as you find best works for you.

Isometrics As A Warm Up

Overcoming isometrics is the perfect way to prepare both mind and body for a strenuous workout. Isometrics training naturally has a low barrier to entry so you don’t need to feel like you need a lot of motivation or preparation to get started. Whenever I don’t feel like working out, I tell myself to just start with a couple gentle isometric exercises. It only takes a few reps before my muscles are itching to start grinding.

Isometrics WarmUp Chart2
A classic example of using isometrics as a way to ramp-up the neuromuscular system for the dynamic workout to come.

I recommend starting off with a mild level of tension because you don’t want to exhaust your neuromuscular system at this stage in the workout. Remember, you’re just trying to ramp up your activation so pull on the handle for about five seconds with a modest level of tension. Repeat for several sets with gradually increasing levels of tension until you feel you are ready to begin your first warm-up dynamic training sets.

Isometrics As A Super Set Enhancer

Super setting isometric and dynamic exercises for the same muscle group can be a very effective way to level up the intensity of any exercise. It’s also a very effective way to level up both the intensity and volume of your training while minimizing the stress on your joints.

There are several ways you can put this sort of training into practice. The first is to start off with an isometric for the muscle group you’re training, and then practice a dynamic set right after and then resting before doing your isometrics again.

Isometrics Intra Workout3
Practicing a 3-6 second isometric before a dynamic set can help "set" the tension in the muscle.

This strategy works particularly well for any movements or muscle groups you have trouble engaging during dynamic training. For example, let’s say you have trouble getting your left glute to reliably fire during kettlebell swings. Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s just not working as it should. Practicing a couple 6-second sets of single leg deadlifts with the Isochain will light that glute right up and ensure you will use that muscle during the following set of swings.

The other strategy is to use your dynamic exercise first, and then finish off with a quick isometric mini finisher set before your rest period. This approach mimics the classic bodybuilding technique of flexing a muscle right after a set to really "get the pump into the muscle" and have a more satisfying finish each time.

This approach can work very well for building up lagging muscle groups. For example, try doing a set of pistol squats and then finish off with an isometric sissy squat on the Isochain to really hit those quads into the stratosphere.

Isometrics Intra Workout2 4
A quick 10-12 second isometric after each dynamic set can help you feel like you’ve successfully worked the muscle to the best of its work capacity.

You can use the standard 6-second isometric setting on the Isochain for this, but I will often increase the finishing time to 10-12 seconds depending on the degree of fatigue you want to create in the muscle.

Just keep in mind that longer and harder isometric finishers can leave the muscles feeling more fatigued and may compromise your ability to work hard for the next dynamic set. That’s why some athletes prefer to only use an isometric finisher for the last couple of sets.

Isometrics As A Workout Finisher

Isometric training is the ideal way to leave a muscle feeling completely spent and finished at the end of the workout. An Isochain finisher is also ideal, because your muscles are typically in a pretty fatigued state to begin with which can make maintaining good technique challenging with dynamic training. Isometrics gives you the freedom to use whatever juice is left in the muscle without worrying about maintaining perfect technique as you move.

Isometrics Workout Finisher5
Isometrics can be a safe and effective way to fully "finish off" the muscle. In this example, there are 3 isometric finishers with diminishing duration due to fatigue.

My favorite isometric finisher is to set the load of the Isochain to roughly 1/2 of what you were using for your main workout, and you just hold it as long as you can keep the beeps going. You’ll probably be able to hold it for about 20-30 seconds before releasing it. Go ahead and give yourself one or two more reps if you like, but one rep will usually be more than enough to fully exhaust the muscle far beyond what you would experience with taking your dynamic training to failure.

As a coach, Isometric training has been one of the most useful tools in my toolbox to help clients take their dynamic training to the next level. It’s my sincere hope that these strategies can do the same for you as well.

In strength,
Matt Schifferle


Matt Schifferle
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