Isometrics by Thaddeus
I found this little Gem posted in Knifeforums the other day. It was written by Thaddeus, who is a moderator over there (The way of the Modern Warrior forum). Isometrics are something I’ve worked on for years and some of the exercises on the BalisongXtreme site use the principles to build hand and finger strength.
I thought you guys might be interested in the “how and why” of Isometrics, so I decided to post it as this weeks Tip………….. Enjoy!
The next voice you’ll hear, is that of Thaddeus:
First of all, quickly, why do you want isometric strength: Isometric tendon strength means SPEED and true strength. Bruce Lee was an Iso-Freak. An Iso-Freak is also what we call a “sleeper” – someone that you think is weak, and then the minute you tie up with them you think “uh-oh, this guy is a lot stronger than he looks”. Isometric strength is usable strength and is the combat athlete’s best friend. It makes you strong without the expense of weight and bulk, and most of all it makes you fast and uses little or no oxygen to employ so you don’t drain your endurance.
Isometric strength is the strength of stationary motion. It is pure tendon power, not muscle strength. This type of strength is what rock climbers, wrestlers and gymnasts have. It is sinewy power, like strong rubber bands for limbs. How do they get this? Well, by developing their tendons. How do you develop tendons? Simple: By stationary resistance.
Muscles grow when you pump iron, but tendons grow when you meet resistance but don’t move. That is why a big weightlifter can blow out a tendon if he gets jostled or stuck during a lift. When you aren’t moving, you are using your tendons to power rather than muscle strength. The time when a weightlifter is really developing pure strength is when he has the bar stuck halfway up and can’t go anymore, and fights it. Rock climbers get this strength by hanging on by the fingers and toes in slow movements, using lots of upper body, and actually using a lot more than that, if you have much experience in the area. Wrestlers develop this by getting into clinches with their opponent and struggling to get a hold. Gymnasts get this by the same obvious reasons, I am sure you get the drift.
Okay, let’s get to brass tacks and figure out how to develop this without doing any of the above activities. There are a few different ways to actually train this, but first let’s tackle the concept that encompasses them all. The main concept is to mimic whatever motion you want to strengthen, break it into three parts, and train each part for ten seconds. FIRST OF ALL, BE SURE YOU ARE WARMED UP BEFORE YOU DO THIS. MAKE ISOMETRIC TRAINING THE END OF YOUR WORKOUT AND ONLY WORK MUSCLES THAT ARE WELL WARMED UP FOR THAT MOTION, OTHERWISE YOU WILL VERY LIKELY PULL A MUSCLE.
Here is the main concept: Take the motion that you want to strengthen, break it into three phases, apply resistance, and hold each phase for ten seconds, pushing absolutely as hard as you can!
Now for some examples to clear up exactly how this is done. Say you want to work your jab punch and make it more snappy and powerful. Break that motion, the jab punch, up into three phases FOR EACH STROKE. You have the outward stroke, where you are extending your punch, and the inward pulling stroke, where you are retracting the punch. Both motions must be worked to get true speed, but the outward motion gives you the most power. The inward stroke gives you the most snap. Anyway, back to the exercise. For the pushing motion, break it up into three parts, the initial part, where your arm is close to your body in more of a “guard” and you are just starting to throw the punch, then the middle part of the motion, where your arm is halfway to the target. Then the last part of the motion, where your fist makes contact, and your arm is almost completely extended.
Now that you have broken your stroke into three parts, take each part, go up to a wall, and lean on the wall as hard as you can for ten seconds, pushing with all your might but NOT moving, for the first part. Now take a break, and then go back and push on the wall with your arm halfway extended, in your exact stance, pushing with your legs, so that you are also working the proper support muscles. Then finish up with your arm all the way extended for the last third part of your motion. Hold each part for ten seconds and PUSH as hard as you can! You should be grunting and groaning and breathing hard. Really push! Now, to work the retracting part of your jab, just do the same thing, but pull each part of the motion. Find a pole or corner of a wall and grab hold of it, or hook your fist around it, and work each part the same way but in a pulling motion.
Okay, got it? That is the concept, now use it wisely. This is why we teach concepts where I am from, because you can be creative and use it in many other ways than just the way that is taught. You can use this concept to work any part of your body, to strengthen any motion you want, from kicks, to stances, to techniques, to ‘blocks’ or whatever.
The best friend of an iso-athlete is his towel. The towel is used for padding when pushing on painful surfaces like walls, and it is used to actually workout with. You can do all your pulling motions with a towel. Hold one end in one hand, and the other end in the other hand and pull in different positions. Hook the towel around things like poles or even your feet and pull with both hands. You can also do isometrics with friends if they want to work the same motions. Just grab each other, or a towel, or hook limbs and strain for ten seconds. You will go through towels pretty quickly as you get stronger.
The best way to work this concept is to finish each workout by doing the motions you were working on and strengthening them. For instance, if you are working your kicks that day, then finish your workout up with a quick isometric workout on your kicks. It does not take too long, but is very rewarding, and you will notice a real strength developing; a knockout, snappy power and an strength that does not fade from lack of oxygen like muscular strength does.
My favorite daily thing is to warm up my shoulders with small circles (like we used to do in P.E. as kids) and then work my deltoids/shoulders in the car while at stoplights. I use the steering wheel! Yep, I put my wrists into the steering wheel and push out with all my might. This is just one example. You can be very creative, and as you develop these tendons, you will be able to work them harder and more often without risking a strain. Good luck, have fun and be creative!
If anyone has any questions on this material, you can go ask Thaddeus himself over at www.knifeforums.com . Better yet, go there now and read a few of his posts. He’s pretty entertaining as well as knowledgeable.