Isometric training is a laborious and monotonous process. You can add novelty and enjoy the benefits of isometrics with this simple technique. Take a couple of dumbbells, but lift only one of them!
Fundamental bodybuilding exercises are considered fundamental because they actually work. On the other hand, if strength training is not just a whim for you, but a way of life, you need to learn how to modify basic movements through non-standard techniques. This will save your workouts from monotony and inefficiency, and at the same time will help you lift more weight with even more success when you return to the classic versions.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use what I call “isodynamic training” to generate new training stimuli from the foundations of your program. In a nutshell, isodynamic training is when, as part of an approach to some exercise with dumbbells, you fix one arm in an isometric contraction, while the other side continues to make a dynamic (concentric and eccentric) movement. Then, in the same approach, you swap your hands and continue the exercise.
Sounds simple? It is, but for greater clarity, I propose to analyze this method in more detail.
Isodynamic movements are an overload technique similar to drop sets, forced reps, and one of my personal favorites, eccentrics. All of these techniques are designed to load the muscle group to the fullest by increasing the time under load. This is achieved either by extending the finishing segment, or by changing the pace of work.
Increasing time under exercise increases metabolic stress, which is one of three mechanisms that stimulate muscle hypertrophy. Brad Schonfeld wrote about this in his 2010 talk, but back in 2002, the Journal of Practical Physiology published a paper shedding light on the relationship between isometric training and metabolic stress. However, if you have ever held heavy dumbbells in the half-position for more than a few seconds, you will not need proof in the form of scientific papers!
Be that as it may, in recent years, there has been a lot of research proving that isometric training can be a very effective detonator of muscle growth. But the technique has, and always has been, one significant drawback – it is very boring and tedious to pretend to be a statue for 5 seconds, and there is nothing to say about 30+ seconds. Isodynamic exercises solve this problem. They will help you harvest a rich hypertrophic isometric crop without the risk of falling asleep and dropping dumbbells on your feet.
The isodynamic training suggested in this article provides another bonus benefit – fantastic pumping! Researchers Bret Contreras and Brad Schonfeld concluded that this approach “increases protein synthesis while slowing down catabolic processes.” But even without delving into molecular physiology, timely pumping can be the X-factor that separates first place from a complete fiasco in a bodybuilding competition. This is why the athletes I work with always do isodynamic exercises before going on stage!
Moving on to my favorite isodynamic training exercises. I recommend doing 6 exercises:
Isodynamic biceps curls
Every bodybuilder loves biceps curls. The proposed option will change your idea of the degree of difficulty of this exercise, but after completing it, you will defile around the hall with your biceps swollen like the ego of Donald Trump. To perform the exercise, fix the isometric arm in front of you, bending it at the elbow joint at an angle of 90 °.
When doing this and all other isodynamic exercises, make sure that the isometric arm is firmly fixed. Don’t let her stray from her starting position, no matter how great the temptation! The second hand at this moment continues to work as usual.
Isodynamic hand raises with dumbbells
One of my favorite muscle and sculpting exercises I recommend for competitive bodybuilders to do before every stage. It bloods the muscles of your shoulder girdle and helps you look your best. To do the exercise, simply raise both dumbbells to a parallel level, and lower only one. After a few reps on the dynamic side, switch hands – the right arm is now doing dynamic reps and the left is locked in an isometric position.
Isodynamic dilutions for posterior deltas
Lean forward, raise both arms to the sides; they should be parallel to the floor as in standard rear deltas. Now lock your right hand and do dynamic reps with your left.
Isodynamic overhead press
Sitting or standing, keep your right arm in the middle of the trajectory, bending your elbow at a 90 ° angle, and with your left hand do standard, full-range overhead presses. After doing some dynamic reps on the left, swap your arms.
Isodynamic Dumbbell Bench Press
For the bench press, use the same strategy as for the overhead press. Fix the isometric contraction arm at a 90 ° angle; the humerus is parallel to the floor. Most importantly, do not let your hand slide down.
Isodynamic tilt rods
The opposite of the isodynamic dumbbell press. Take dumbbells in each hand and take the starting position for a bent-over row with the body almost parallel to the floor. Perform a pulling motion with both hands. Now fix your right hand at the top, and with your left hand continue to do your regular rows. After that, all that remains is to swap hands.
With each set, isodynamic reps become more difficult, and therefore are ideal for a top-down pattern like the 5-4-3-2 inverted pyramid. Do 5 dynamic reps with your right arm while your left is in an isometric position. Swap hands and do 5 dynamic reps with your left hand while your right hand holds the projectile in a dead grip. On the second round, do 4 dynamic reps with each hand, and on the next round, stop for three reps.
At the end of the exercise, do 2 reps with both hands at once. If by the end of the ladder your brain already refuses to work and you find it difficult to concentrate, remember this simple rule: two arms for two reps.
Personally, I like this scheme because it is easy to remember and is already adapted to work against the background of accumulating fatigue. As you get closer to the finish line, muscle fatigue increases rapidly and you complete fewer and fewer reps. The last bilateral reps help you generate “extra impulses” with your whole body when needed. But keep in mind that what I mean by “extra impulses” is controlled cheating, not chaotic cheating that increases the risk of injury.
Do it your way
Your ladder doesn’t have to start with 5 reps. You might as well start with 4 reps and work your way all the way to one final movement. Or you can start with 8 reps, decreasing the number of reps in increments of 2 using an 8-6-4 pattern.
In short, freely adjust the number of repetitions to your fitness, because there is no magic scheme. At its core, this training style is generally a deviation from the norm, so feel free to experiment and try your hand!