Hi, I am Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health Performance, and today we’re going to be talking about yielding versus overcoming isometrics, what they are and why that matters. If you are new to Z-Health, we are a brain-based education company and we really love diving into the details of emerging research because our job as movement professionals is to get maximum benefit for our clients in minimum time.
So if you are a movement professional, a doctor, a therapist, a coach, and you find this information interesting, make sure to subscribe and also follow along with this upcoming series. Last week we finished shooting and just released our newest brain-based practitioners guide membership unit, which is on isometrics, which is about an eight hour dive in isometric exercise, how to use it for pain, for blood pressure, for hypertrophy, for strength, et cetera. And what I wanted to do for the next month or so is take you through some very fast protocols because not only are isometrics amazing for professionals used with clients, these are things that you can implement immediately at home with tremendous benefit.
So an isometric exercise is typically defined as a muscular movement where no movement’s actually occurring.
So in other words, if I was doing a dynamic exercise, I’m doing a bicep curl, I’m gonna start at the bottom, I’m gonna come to the top, I’m gonna go back down, and isometric would be, I’m gonna come to one position and I’m gonna be creating a lot of force in that position.
Now, in the research literature and in real-world experience, isometrics are incredibly powerful. They can make you stronger. They can make you bigger if you’re interested in that, they actually correspond dynamically, which is weird because we can train ourselves by not moving to actually move better. So you can see improvements in vertical jump, sprint speed, all kind of things using isometric exercise. Now, as a brain-based person, we also see some radical things happening in the brain when we compare isometric exercises versus dynamic.
So this is not an encouragement to throw out dynamic exercise, but it is an absolute encouragement to think about utilizing isometrics in your own training and for your clients because it is often easier on the joints. It’s better at reducing pain in many cases than dynamic exercise and has a host of benefits. Now, as I said, I’m gonna go through a series of videos for you to kind of explain some nuances that have just shown up in the research literature.
And the first thing that you need to understand is the difference between what is called an overcoming versus a yielding isometric. So normally when I demonstrate stuff like this, I recommend you have a couple of different things available to you. Number one, you need some kind of isometric strap. This doesn’t have to be expensive. This is actually called a forearm forklift. It is a brand that you can get at a moving store or a hardware store used for moving furniture.
They have these nice velvet inside or something, so they’re nice and soft, and they are virtually unbreakable by a human being. So we really love using them for isometrics.
So let’s talk about an overcoming isometric. An overcoming isometric kind of by definition means I’m going to be contracting without moving against a fixed force.
So in this case, I have this over my wrist, I’m gonna be doing a basic bicep curl. I’m standing on the band and I am constantly trying to overcome the resistance of the band. If I was pushing against a wall, an immovable object, I’m trying to overcome that entire time, that is one version of an isometric.
Now, the other version that is also super important is called a yielding isometric. And a yielding isometric basically means that I’m under load, but I’m trying to prevent the load from making me lengthen the muscle. Alright? So some people will call this kind of an eccentric version or compare it to an eccentric or lengthening contraction of a muscle.
So as an example, if I had a band that was really heavy, this is actually not quite heavy enough, so I’m gonna go ahead and grab two, and I was gonna stand on them and do a basic, again, bicep curl. Right Now, I can’t come all the way. Well, I can get almost all the way up. Let’s say this is very difficult for me to come to a fully contracted position. So a yielding isometric would look like this.
I might use two hands to get the bands in position and then release. And now my job is simply to maintain this position. So I’m now holding and over time as my muscle fatigue, as my brain saying, Hey, this is getting too hard. I will start to extend. And that is a yielding isometric.
So like I said, as a practitioner or an athlete, you need to actually have an internal sensation of what the difference is because they are very different. They’re different neurologically, they’re different muscularly, and ultimately they create different results in the body.
When we look at the research literature, people doing an overcoming isometric can typically hold that contraction twice as long as a yielding isometric Research from 2017 and forward, because they are really just starting to identify so many of the different variations.
The hard part again, is that this is a mental construct, right, where I’m trying to overcome something or I’m just trying to prevent my arm or my body from being pulled down or lengthened away.
So this week what I want you to do is play with this. I want you to experiment with overcoming isometrics. Yielding isometrics. If you’re doing it in a pull-up or a chin up, a overcoming isometric would be coming up and continually trying to lift yourself higher and higher and higher and higher over the bar. A yielding isometric would be pick a elbow angle, come here and just hold for time and just prevent yourself from lowering down. As I said, these have different neurological effects and different benefits. We’re gonna be exploring those in subsequent videos.
So as I said, this is gonna be a series on isometrics. The first thing you have to know, overcoming versus yielding, ’cause we’re going to be applying that in the future portions of the series. Hope you enjoy this and we’ll see you soon.
If you’re wondering about the Brain-Based Practitioner’s Guide series, this is a part of our professional membership. Follow this link to learn more.