Over the past couple of months I have made great use of yielding isometrics in my programming for my athletes. In doing so, I have developed some great strategies (in my opinion) on how to utilize these particular movements as accessories in your programming that can help pack on some much desired muscle (along with some strength)! Here is a quick and easy to understand breakdown of yielding isometrics along with some practical ways to implement them in your programming.
What are Yielding Isometrics?
So already in this article I have mentioned that yielding isometrics are a great tool to use to build muscle mass. With that being said, this gives us a great clue as to what is occurring during yielding isometrics that helps build muscle mass. As many of us know, a major component involved in the creation of muscle mass is the tearing of muscle fibers (myofibril hypertrophy). During myofibril hypertrophy contractile proteins also increase so you will also see some strength gains as well! This differs from sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (the result of high repetition bodybuilding style sets) in which non-contractile fluid, sarcoplasm, increases in volume. This is the “pump,” effect many bodybuilders refer to and is also the reason you can be massive and not have strength relative to your size!
Now, what sounds more appealing to an athlete? Functional muscle mass that correlates to strength gains or “show,” muscle that does not actually provide much of a performance benefit? Assuming that you want functional muscle mass, Yielding Isometrics are for you. Essentially, yielding isometrics involve resisting forces that are trying to pull you back through the range of motion you are performing. For example, the banded terminal knee extension exercise being performed here. The athlete moves through the full range of motion and then attempts to hold that position as the band is trying to pull him back through. Basically, you are resisting eccentric forces (remember that eccentrics cause muscle fiber tearing), and thus working myofibril hypertrophy.
How to Implement Yielding Isometrics
Before I delve into specifics on how you can pair these with certain exercises in your programming, here is one basic principal I like to use with yielding isometrics. I stick to general principles of hypertrophy and aim to keep time under tension (total amount of time a muscle is contracted during a set) to 30-50 seconds. You can begin with 30 seconds and gradually work your way up to 50 as you progress through your program.
My two favorite ways to implement Yielding isometrics in my programming thus far are as a second exercise in a superset that targets the same muscle groups as the first exercise or as the second exercise in a superset to accompany a concentric only movement.
Now that you understand yielding isometrics you can utilize them and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your programming!
Give them a try and notice immediate gains in muscle mass as well as strength!
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.