Isometric exercises can be a GRIND.
I'm sure many SCRATCH Athletes look at their training session for the day, see a long duration isometric and groan.
However, I want to take the opportunity this article to explain WHY we use ISOMETRICS within our golf performance training.
WHAT IS ISOMETRIC?
There are three central types of muscular contractions.
First, is a concentric contraction which is when the muscle is shortening... think the raising of a bicep curl.
Second, is an eccentric contraction which is when the muscle is elongating under load... think the lowering portion of a bicep curl.
In both of these examples the bicep muscle is still the primary driver of movement. It's either working hard to raise the weight and bend the elbow, or it's working hard to slow down the lowering of the weight.
Lastly, an ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION is when the muscle is relatively NOT MOVING. The joint is staying in one place. Instead of the weight moving up or down in the bicep curl, the weight is now staying in one place and you are holding your elbow in that singular position.
WHY WE USE LONG DURATION ISOMETRICS.
Often in SCRATCH training programs we make use of long duration isometrics, which simply means that you are holding a singular position for ~1 minute or more.
There are several reasons we use these...
First, TENDON HEALTH.
Tendons are like muscles in some ways, and unlike them in others.
They are similar to them in the sense that they're adaptable.
Tendons will adapt to stress, just like a muscle will, and become stronger.
Whether that is strength training, isometrics, power training, or even your golf swing, tendons will create adaptations based on the stresses that are placed upon them.
Tendons are unlike muscles in that they have what's called "Stress Relaxation."
Basically, this means that when a tendon is placed under a consistent load (like an isometric exercise), the tendon will undergo a subtle relaxation phase.
Tapping into this relaxation phase is NEEDED if we are healing from tendinitis OR if we are trying to build future resilience to AVOID it.
Moral of the story... Isometrics and exercises are great for your tendons.
Secondly, ISOMETRICS will build joint angle specific strength.
Our body adapts to the positions we expose it to.
To put it another way, if we hold the bottom of the push-up position, we will get stronger in that position.
While this isn't rocket science, sometimes simplicity gets lost amongst complexity on social media.
Therefore, we can use ISOMETRICS to strengthen weak, uncomfortable and "limited" positions.
THIRDLY, PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS
Isometrics are uncomfortable.
But, if we can teach our body to be comfortable within that discomfort.
If we can learn how to relax amongst periods of stress.
If we can show ourselves how strong we really are.
We are going to be well suited mentally and physically when we step onto the golf course.
We can handle stress because we've been able to battle through it in training.
ISOMETRIC EXERCISES I LOVE
Find 2 additional isometric exercises below that I've been using lately with athletes!
The bottom of a dip can be an uncomfortable and weak position for many, which is what makes it a great isometric exercise.
If this is challenging for you, do two things:
Don't elevate your feet
Limit the range of motion
Biceps tendinitis is a common injury I get asked about.
These two exercises are my favorite to HEAL and BUILD RESILEINCE in the tissue.
However, I want to especially highlight the first one.
By placing the bicep into an elongated state, and then forcing it to act against an immovable object (foam roll) we can tap into the stress relaxation response we are seeking!
We are going to continue to use ISOMETRICS.
Push them hard.
If you find yourself experiencing discomfort, simply breathe.
Focus on your breath.
Realize you are stronger than the information your body is telling you.
Tap into that next level.
Watch your physical abilities and joint health sky rocket.
Founder and Head Coach SCRATCHGolfTraining.com - And Part-Time Looper
Carter is a strength and conditioning coach out of the Milwaukee area working with athletes, in-person and virtually. Having helped hundreds of athletes, ranging from the middle school to the professional level and beyond, Carter brings a breadth of experience and knowledge to every athlete he works with. He launched SCRATCHGolfTraining.com in the summer of 2021 to help empower golfers to greater performance and longevity.
Carter believes ALL golfers are athletes, and they should be training accordingly.
Become a SCRATCH Athlete today, and start training like the ATHLETE you are!