When it comes to building strength and speed, isometrics might not be the first thing that comes to mind, however, continued research has shown that incorporating low-impact, high-intensity isometric workouts into your training program can actually have a dramatic impact on improving performance as an athlete.
So what’s the hype all about with isometric training?
Isometric holds are valuable for many reasons. They’re practical because they result in less soreness than concentric and eccentric movements, which is key for athletes that need to perform on a daily basis. On top of that, isometrics also activate key muscle groups by putting athletes at near-maximum or maximum contractions, and are a safe means to test max strength for muscles and movements, but above all they’re convenient and can complement an already existing training program. So if isometrics are so beneficial, why haven’t all athletes incorporated them into their fitness routines?
Well for one, it’s traditionally been hard to track progress and motivate athletes with isometrics, so coaches have shied away from adding them into their training programs. Other criticisms of this training method have been that it’s not engaging or “fun” enough for athletes, but what if there was a tool that put all these criticisms to rest? (Spoiler alert: there is and it’s called the Activ5).
5 Isometric Exercises for Increasing Speed & Strength:
1. Plank Crush: A strong core is a basic requirement for improving running skills and the plank is one of the most effective isometric exercises to accomplish that.
For this exercise, begin on your elbows and knees. Place the Activ5 under both palms and straighten your legs, keeping them hip-width apart. Keep your back straight. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulder to your feet. Press the Activ5 as you squeeze your core muscles.
2. Side Plank: We like to think of the side plank as a better version of oblique ab crunches. They work the core and back muscles, which again, are crucial for increasing speed and strength.
To begin the side plank, lie on your left side, resting on your forearm. Keep your elbow directly below your shoulder. Place the Activ5 directly below your right hip bone and lift your hips off the ground by contracting your core. Keep your back flat and your body in straight line. Press the Activ5 as you squeeze your core muscles. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Wall Squat: Squats are one of the most effective exercises out there when it comes to sprinting and building speed. They improve stability and strength all while working to prevent injury.
Start with your back against the wall and place the Activ5 under your left heel. Slide down the wall into a squat position. Reach your arms in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Press your left heel into the Activ5 while squeezing your left quad. Repeat on the opposite leg.
4. Single Leg Bridge: A great exercise for posterior chain development, which some say is the secret to speed.
To perform this exercise, lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground hip-width apart. Place the Activ5 under your left heel and lift your right leg off the ground, keeping your right knee slightly bent. Press the Activ5 into the floor, as you squeeze your left glute to lift your hips off the ground. Repeat on the opposite leg.
5. Kickback Lunge: Isometric lunges stimulate the quads, hamstrings and hips — all muscles crucial in accelerating speed.
For the Kickback Lunge, you’ll start by placing the Activ5 under the ball of your left foot. Lunge forward with your right leg, keeping your torso upright and hands in prayer position. Squeeze the ball of your left foot down and back into the Activ5 while squeezing your left glute. Repeat on the opposite leg.
The Activ5 smart isometric training device and its companion training app let you get simple, powerful and effective workouts in that are customized to your specific goals. Used in tandem with your already existing training routine, there are hundreds of exercises that can be done with the Activ5 to test strength and increase speed. Check it out here.