Benefits of Isometric Training for Women


Although isometric exercise can be beneficial for everyone, there are some perks of this training method that can be particularly beneficial to women. Isometrics are great for improving strength and stability, which are essential in group exercise classes, like yoga, pilates and barre. On top of that, they can have a positive impact on the overall health and wellbeing of women, but that’s just the beginning! Here are even more ways isometric training can benefit women: 

Improve Strength & Stability

If you’ve ever taken a yoga or barre class, you’ve probably done isometric holds without even realizing it. Isometric holds involve contracting a muscle or muscle group and holding that contraction for an extended period of time. It may not be referred to as isometric holds by your instructor, but holding a pose in yoga, pilates or barre is exactly that. This type of training is extremely common in group classes of this nature and in order to improve your practice of these techniques, it takes an incredible amount of strength and stability, which can be achieved through continued use of isometric training both in and out of the studio. 
This brings us to our next point. If yoga, pilates and barre aren’t your thing, there are many other ways to implement isometrics into your training regimen that are just as beneficial to improving your strength and stability. Holding a plank, for example, is a popular full-body strengthening isometric exercise that is practiced by many, but even something as simple as holding an isometric calf raise or knee extension while in a seated position can have positive impacts to your strength and stability as well.

Relieve Pain

If you’re in pain, you’re probably willing to try whatever you can to relieve that pain and isometrics can be a great solution. Chronic pain, especially lower back pain, is extremely common among women and studies have shown that stabilization exercises, like isometrics, have been helpful in reducing that pain. Not only can they help find immediate relief to pain your experiencing, they can also have effects lasting as long as 9 months in some cases. Targeted isometric exercises work to activate and strengthen specific muscles, without aggravating the surrounding tissues, tendons and joints, which is why they are used a lot in rehabilitation settings. Isometrics are static holds, so they have much less wear and tear on the body than eccentric and concentric movements, ultimately resulting in less pain.

Aid in Weight Loss

With so many fad diets and exercise options out there, it’s hard to find a weight-loss program to buy into. This seems to be particularly challenging for women, as their biological makeup makes it a bit more difficult to shed pounds as quickly as men. Men typically have less body fat and more lean muscle than women, which in turn allows them to naturally burn more calories. Before you get discouraged, try incorporating isometrics into your training program. Isometrics have been proven to strengthen muscles, which helps the body burn more calories and lose more body fat. In fact, a study done by Dr. Jerrold Petrofsky proved that isometric exercise, paired with a healthy diet resulted in the average person losing 3.0 cm around their waist in just two weeks. That’s equivalent to one pant or dress size!

Help Reduce Risk of Disease

In the United States, heart disease is the cause of one in every four deaths in women and while this statistic may be a little shocking to some, we’re not here to scare you. Instead, we’re here to shed some light on ways to help reduce your risk of developing diseases like this. Studies have shown that isometric exercise is a natural remedy that can assist in lowering blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of heart disease. Even simple handgrip exercises can lower the amount of pressure in your arteries and these types of exercises can be done virtually anywhere! We recommend reaching out to a healthcare professional to see if isometric exercise is right for you. 

Convenience

Between rushing the kids to school, your job and having a social life, it’s no wonder many of us struggle to find the time to get a workout in, which brings us to our last point. Isometrics are a super convenient way to get a workout in anytime, anywhere. They require little to no equipment and even short increments of isometric exercise can be beneficial to your health. Whether you’re at your desk, on an airplane, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or anything in between, anyone can incorporate this type of exercise into their daily routine. 

If you’re not sure where to start, one easy way to introduce isometric exercise into your daily routine is with the Activ5 device and mobile app. Designed for those short on time and seeking convenient exercises on-the-go, the Activ5 program can help you remain physical, all while keeping up with your hectic daily schedule. Plus, with Mother’s Day right around the corner, there’s no doubt that many of us are thinking of ways to treat the ladies in our life to something special, and the Activ5 is a gift that will keep on giving.

Reduce Low Back Pain with Quick Isometric Back Exercises


How to Reduce Low Back Pain with Quick Isometric Workouts

Low back pain is an affliction that is linked to weakened core muscles and musculoskeletal integrity in and around the spinal column. A variety of diagnoses including arthritis, spinal stenosis and endometriosis, cause the conditions leading to low back pain.  An extensive 2014 study suggested that isometric back exercise aids those suffering from low back pain to build core stability for a better quality of life.

Accessible and convenient, quick isometric back exercises and workouts build core muscles and increase vitality. It is ideal for people recovering from back injuries, those who suffer from low back pain, and for busy professionals who spend a lot of time sitting. If your schedule doesn’t allow for long workouts, there is a simple solution that will set you on a track to improving your quality of life.

Moreover, recent innovations in the exercise tech sector have revolutionized isometric exercise in such a way that you can engage in fun, quick workouts while monitoring your activity and documenting your progress.

Self-administer Physical Therapy

Broken bones, strained ligaments and sprained joints all require healing time. During this period, tissue in and around the injury is subject to atrophy. Isometrics can build muscle strength without the discomfort of high-impact activities like running and weight lifting. For example, low back pain from a herniated disc means that the region needs to be eased back into condition. With a doctor’s approval, you can expedite the process with quick workouts that engage the lower back muscles for intervals ranging from five to sixty seconds.

For example, isometric Yoga poses, including the Locust, the Bird-Dog, and the Superman, reduce low back pain. Yes, these are all forms of isometric back exercises! The muscle contraction should be intense enough to be felt but not so much that it causes pain. Repeat these exercises several times throughout the week to gradually build muscle strength. 

Stabilize for Back Pain Relief

The musculoskeletal advantages of isometric exercise also improves core stabilization, which reduces stress on the lower back. Low back pain is often the result of atrophied muscles from an overly sedentary lifestyle.  A recently published study demonstrates that isometric exercise is an excellent solution while providing additional benefits. A panel of 39 female subjects suffering from lower back pain underwent a four-week workout program, resulting in unanimous reports of reduced pain and increased vitality. What’s more, the health improvements lasted for nine months after the official exercise program ended. Quick isometric workouts builds muscle strength around your core, leading to an improved quality of life.

Reduce Low Back Pain from Sitting Too Much

Recent medical research has revealed that regularly sitting down for extended periods contributes to bad posture and low back pain. If sitting for long periods is unavoidable in your job, you don’t have to take it sitting down, so to speak. While at the wheel, behind a desk, or at a computer screen, you can perform isometrics without disrupting your routine. These include abdominal and pelvic floor contractions, among other exercises.  Additionally, as exercising increases circulation, you also benefit from improved mental clarity and enhanced energy.

isometric exercises for lumbar spineIsometric Back Exercises

It can be tough to find appropriate back exercises that help you to become more flexible and strengthen your muscles, without causing injury. Particularly if you a;ready have pre-existing back conditions. But, when you try the isometric back exercises that we have sourced for you through the Activ5 app, it’s a whole new world of opportunity. From lat pull-downs to seated rows, you can use the principles of isometric exercise for back strength.

The Isometric Revolution

Activbody has innovated a way for those interested in isometrics to experience it in a fun, engaging and connected way. The Activ5 device is an isometric exercise device that connects your movements with a smartphone app.  It coaches you through quick workouts while tracking and measuring your levels and progress. With Activ5 as your coach, you can build muscle strength, reduce low back pain, and enjoy an enhanced quality of life.

Sources:

https://draxe.com/isometric-exercises/

http://ptjournal.apta.org/content/85/7/676

http://www.dynamicpt.com/library_treatments_56/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

https://www.zvab.com/9780990606109/0990606104/plp

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/25/health/la-he-dont-sit-20130525

http://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/6-exercises-you-can-do-while-sitting-at-your-desk.html/?a=viewall

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258252724_Effects_of_Stabilization_Exercises_on_Health-Related_Quality_of_Life_in_Women_With_Chronic_Low_Back_Pain

http://www.healthline.com/symptom/low-back-pain

http://www.livestrong.com/article/106461-isometric-exercises-lower-back/

http://www.dianelee.ca/article-training-deep-core-muscles.php

Mental Benefits of Strength Training


Mental Health Benefits of Doing Strength Training

Good health involves more than just a disease-free body and fit physique. Your mental health matters just as much: A sound mind contributes to your overall well-being by empowering you with the resolve to meet your physical health objectives. Personal growth, emotional resilience, successful relationships and the ability to make good choices also stem from mental stability. Health professionals have explored the mental benefits of strength training and came up with this list!

Anxiety

Anxiety is an issue that plagues many, affecting as much as 15 percent of the US population. Researchers examined both aerobic exercise and strength training as potential anxiety reducers and found both to be effective. Randomized controlled trials involving both healthy adults and medical patients show that strength training has a beneficial impact on anxiety. In particular, moderate intensity strength training reduces anxiety symptoms more than high intensity.

Chronic Pain

Strength training also reduces chronic pain issues, which can contribute to a decline in mental health. One of the most common forms of chronic pain is lower back pain. It’s often caused by disc injury or muscle strain from insufficient core muscle tone. Medically supervised strength training for back pain not only reduces this pain but also increases physical functioning for back pain sufferers. Furthermore, studies support the mental benefits of strength training as well as pain reduction, specifically in symptom reduction for knee and hip osteoarthritis, as well as fibromyalgia.

Depression

Depression can be fatal and costs the US in excess of $50 billion each year, but strength training can help with this mental health affliction. Evidentlly, exercise of all types helps ease depression, but the studies involving strength training alone have all yielded positive results. Fibromyalgia patients derive a double benefit from strength training: pain reduction and a moderate reduction in symptoms of depression. Those diagnosed with depression fare even better and have large reductions in symptoms when they incorporate strength training into their lives.

Chronic Fatigue

Strength training combats chronic fatigue by giving sufferers more energy as they get in shape. Even if you don’t suffer from this condition, you might be one of the almost 25 percent of the population who have persistent fatigue. Once again, the prognosis for strength training participants is promising, as at least ten trials have demonstrated that this type of exercise can reduce fatigue.

Cognition

Incorporating strength training into an exercise regime along with aerobic exercise improves cognition among older adults. Memory, in particular, seems to benefit from the strength training component, with four studies demonstrating its effectiveness in boosting this cognitive process.

Sleep

Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is vital for good health, both physical and mental. Regular strength training not only improves both the quality and duration of your sleep, but also reduces the risk of developing sleep disorders. While high-intensity strength training produces a stronger effect, low-intensity workouts still yield improvements.

Self-Esteem

Healthy self-esteem is a cornerstone of good mental health, assessed by things like your personal relationships or your fitness level. Improvements in each area can affect overall self-esteem. Strength training, through its effects on physical health, improves global self-esteem and, in doing so, improves mental health.

physical fitness training and mental health

Activ5 Can Help Achieve the Mental Benefits of Strength Training

The Activ5 portable fitness device enables you to strength train with simple exercises that provide a full body workout. With short workouts and seated exercises that can be done almost anywhere, you can easily obtain your strength training objective. This mobile app-enabled fitness tool is customizable to your fitness level, meaning it can improve stamina no matter what your current level is. This gamified workout tool makes strength training easy!

Make strength training a part of your daily exercise routine to reap the mental benefits that it provides. Whether it’s a home workout, hotel workout or even exercise on an airplane, the Activ5 is your portable strength training solution.

Sources:

Mental Benefits of Strength Training by O’Connor

Mental_Health_Benefits_of_Strength_Training-2010-O_Connor-377-96.pdf

http://www.ripsych.org/importance-of-mental-health

Isometric Exercise Benefits: Can Isometrics Help You Quit Smoking?


Isometric Benefits: Can Isometrics Help You Quit Smoking?

If you’re among the nearly 70 percent of U.S. adult smokers trying to give up smoking [1], you’re probably well aware of the benefits. Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk of lung cancer drops 30-50 percent [2], and just one year of not smoking decreases your risk of coronary heart disease by half [3]. While these health benefits and others make a compelling case, it’s not as simple as just quitting cigarettes.

Smoking-cessation aids like nicotine-replacement products, prescription medications, counseling and behavioral therapies [4] can increase the likelihood of success. Even so, cravings and withdrawal symptoms make breaking the smoking habit feel like an impossible challenge. Surprisingly, one practice that can help you to part ways with cigarettes may be one you don’t expect: exercise.

Exercise and Smoking Cessation

A study by the University of Exeter has added weight to the claims that exercise can assist efforts to quit smoking. The research used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans to show how physical activity results in changes in brain processing.  In fact, these changes can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms [5]. Although further study is needed, researchers believe exercise curbs cravings by boosting your mood and/or shifting your blood flow.

Although eliminating cigarettes has a clear benefit, a regular exercise plan can be difficult to incorporate into a busy life. In addition, those new to exercise will have an especially hard time finding the right workout plan that will reduce cravings and fit their schedule. That’s where isometric exercise fits in.

A Study on Isometric Benefits

Another study of the relationship between smoking cessation and exercise concluded that isometric exercise, in particular, was found to reduce the desire to smoke. Furthermore, just 10 minutes of isometric exercises, which involve contractions of specific muscles, measurably lessened cravings and withdrawal symptoms in the study’s participants [6].

There are many advantages to using isometric exercise to curb cravings. These exercises don’t require a long time commitment to complete, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule. They can also be done at any time, at any location, so isometrics are the perfect solution to avoid boredom and deal with cravings throughout your day.

Activ5 and Isometric Benefits

One easy way to introduce isometric exercise into your daily routine and smoking cessation strategy is with the Activ5 device and mobile app. Designed for those short on time and seeking convenient exercises on-the-go, the Activ5 program can help you remain physical and reduce smoking urges. Activ5 coaches you through five-minute workouts that not only help curb urges, but also tone and strengthen your muscles.

Activ5 provides quick bursts of exercise to keep you on track. It also maintains the convenience of isometric exercise, as you can use Activ5 to stay active anytime and anywhere.

To learn more about isometric exercise benefits from the Activ5 portable fitness device, you can watch our videos.  Also, you can get more tips on staying active on the ActivBody blog.

Sources:

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/mmwrs/byyear/2011/mm6044a2/intro.htm

[2] https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/lung-prevention-pdq

[3] http://www.who.int/tobacco/quitting/benefits/en/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63952/

[5] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092738.htm

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19563567

Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits


Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits

Isometric exercises are proven to help build muscle, strength, balance and range of motion. Other isometric exercise benefits include stress reduction, improved mental health, assistance with yoga exercises and injury avoidance. Here are some of the specific isometric exercise benefits.

Lowers Blood Pressure

•             Isometrics have been proven to reduce systolic blood pressure better than aerobic and resistance training in some studies. – Mayo Clinic

Aids in Weight Loss

•             Isometric exercise benefits include reducing both body fat and weight. In a test group, some subjects lost as much as 22 pounds over a 4-week period. – Journal of Applied Research

Saves You Time

•             Using isometric exercise for 6 minutes would be the equivalent muscle work of 30 to 35 minutes on a commercial weight lifting equipment. – Journal of Applied Research

Reduce Overall Pain

•             Older adults experience significant reduction in pain subsequent to several different intensities and durations of isometric contractions. – Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine

Reduce Back Pain

•             Isometrics reduces pain and increases vitality among women with low back pain, with effects lasting at least 9 months. –  Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Improve Range of Motion

•             Regular isometric exercises have been shown to significantly improve range of motion. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

Quit Bad Habits (Smoking)

•             Brief isometric exercise provides immediate relief in the desire to smoke. –Human Psychopharmacology Journal

Get Stronger and Bigger Muscles

•             Isometric exercise is associated with an increase in muscle bulk, upper and lower body strength, increase in bone density, and a decrease in bone fractures. – The Journal of Clinical Hypertension

 Benefits Over Aerobic Exercise

•             Stretching and aerobic exercising alone have proven to be a less effective form of training than isometric strength training. -Journal American Medical Association (JAMA)

Improve Stamina

•             Isometric strength training can have beneficial effects on performance during endurance events. -European Journal of Applied Physiology

Why Over-Exercising Can Damage Your Health


The idea of “over-exercising” seems counterintuitive, when mantras like “no pain, no gain” encourage the idea of physical fitness as torture rather than an investment in your health. And while most of us don’t get nearly enough exercise, it’s also possible to exercise too much or in a way that puts unhealthy stresses on your body.

The Link Between Stress Hormones, Over-Exercising, and Your Health

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study on the effects of jogging and long-term mortality rates and coronary health. The study confirms what you probably already know. Getting regular exercise is much better for your health and longevity than a sedentary lifestyle (aka “the new smoking”). 

However, this study also illustrated that when it comes to exercising and your health, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Surprisingly, physically intensive workouts actually have a ceiling for increased heart health and longevity. At a certain point, exercising harder for longer periods of time reaps no benefits and can actually be harmful to your health.

Some of the study’s main highlights include:

  • Light to moderate joggers generally live longer than their sedentary, non-jogging counterparts.
  • On the flip side, the mortality rates for strenuous joggers were found to be statistically similar to that of sedentary non-joggers.

The study found a type of sweet spot for running that consisted of no more than three days a week of activity, for a total of one to three hours at a slow to moderate pace.

How Cortisol Affects Your Body and Ability to Effectively Lose (and Keep Off) Weight

If you’ve ever noticed that, despite how much you exercise, you can’t seem to lose weight, you are not crazy. You are also not alone. If you’re like many people, you’ve probably blamed yourself, wondering if you’re not pushing yourself “hard enough.” Science has found that in reality, the opposite is true.

The answer lies in a stress hormone known as cortisol. Known as the “fight or flight” hormone, the adrenal gland releases cortisol as a response to stress. Consistently elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to stubborn belly fat, making it harder to effectively burn fat. In addition to storing fat, cortisol has also been linked to other potentially serious health risks such as:

  • Inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Immune problems
  • Cognitive problems
  • Depression

So what does exercise have to do with the fight or flight hormone? Scientists and researchers believe that the body interprets intensive physical activity above the ideal threshold for health and weight loss as stress. This triggers the production of cortisol, creating a dangerous cycle that makes it difficult to lose weight.

The Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training consists of short bursts of high-intensity exercise alternated with periods of rest and recovery. HIIT also incorporates weight and strength training,  shown to be an essential part of fat burning and weight loss, but often overlooked in favor of intensive cardio. Typical HIIT workouts often include:

  • Sprinting
  • Short Cycling “Sprints”
  • Jumping rope
  • Weight training (with weights and/or body weight exercises)

HIIT workouts provide for a well-rounded and effective full-body workout, making it a great option. In addition to being short and easy to incorporate into a busy schedule, they can be tailored to activities that you actually enjoy. All too often, people sabotage their exercise and wellness plans by focusing on activities they don’t enjoy, leading to ineffective, unsustainable workouts. For example, how many times have you made yourself miserable on a treadmill, when you really enjoy hiking in the outdoors?

HIIT workouts allow you to start with small, manageable steps that you can incorporate into your schedule when convenient, making it more likely to turn your workouts into a regular habit.

Most importantly, in addition to being more convenient, HIIT workouts effectively offer health and wellness benefits, such as:

  • Burning more fat and calories in a shorter amount of time.
  • Continuing to burn fat after your workout by increasing your metabolic rate.
  • Building and strengthening muscle.
  • Reducing heart rate and blood pressure.

Smarter Workouts

Are you ready to get started with a safe and sustainable exercise and strength training routine that fits into your lifestyle and fitness goals? The Activ5 app is the world’s first portable smart strength training device. Activ5 exercises are short – you can complete an Activ5 workout in just five minutes. The device and app adapt the exercises to your fitness level, so each workout is challenging but achievable. The Activ5 coaches you through more than 100 five-minute workouts, measures your strength, and gamifies workouts for a fun, interactive experience. Activ5 makes strength training convenient, fast, fun and effective. Visit www.activ5.com to learn more.

Sources:

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit#section7

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

http://time.com/3683118/working-out-not-losing-weight/?xid=time_readnext

http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/65/5/411?ijkey=1daf5c212b8f3b61b4d66aabc898186bff82facb&keyt

Isometrics Can Improve Range of Motion


How Isometrics Improve Range of Motion

A sure-fire way to break through a strength plateau is to increase your range of motion. One of the most overlooked and underrated methods to do that is through isometric training. First discovered in the 1950s by researchers Hettinger and Muller, isometrics is where your joint angle and muscle length stay the same during muscle contraction. In essence, your muscles are working but you aren’t actually moving. Although you’re performing little to no movement, isometric training has been proven to increase muscular endurance, strength, and flexibility with surprising effectiveness. But one of the most interesting aspects of isometric exercise is its ability to increase range of motion. Why is this important, you ask? Let us count the ways:

By Increasing Flexibility

Regular isometric exercise significantly improves flexibility which, in turn, contributes to a better range of motion. In Barbosa et al., a resistance training program implemented for elderly women resulted in a significant increase in flexibility. In other words, resistance training without stretching itself increases flexibility all on its own. This result has massive implications for the rehabilitation and physical conditioning of our bodies as we approach the senior stages of life. A further study by Houssein Mohammadi Sanavi et al. found that hamstring muscles of the males in the test group were significantly improved after a six-week program combining isometric contraction with passive stretching. Yet, surprisingly, not only was flexibility increased but also the strength and endurance of the hamstring muscle. Which brings us to our next point…

By Improving Physical Performance

Put simply, isometric exercises will not only increase your flexibility but also make you stronger. A single daily isometric exercise at two-thirds maximum effort for six seconds increases strength by a whopping five percent each week. More curiously, research further revealed that static strength continued to improve even after the conclusion of a program. Not bad results for a week of rest. In Thépaut-Mathieu et al., it was also discovered that subjects had an improvement of muscle contraction at specific training angles that was greater than at other angles (not trained with isometric exercises). So you can be pretty darn confident that isometric exercises will increase flexibility, improve stamina, and produce muscles that are more adaptable, stronger and durable.

By Decreasing Risk of Injury

As flexibility increases and physical performance improves, athletic range of motion is a natural byproduct. You’ll gain a greater sense of coordination and be more able to bend, twist, and avoid injury due to your increased ease of motion. Moreover, since isometric exercise also increases muscular endurance and strength, you’ll be combating early fatigue. And we all know that fatigue is one of the biggest causes of injury whether due to decrease of mental capacity or simply because of clumsy limbs.

How Do I Start Isometrics?

Isometric exercises are straightforward and require no equipment, but it’s sometimes tricky to know where to start. If you’re looking for a bit of guidance, Activ5 is a fantastic way to easily incorporate isometric exercises into a busy fitness schedule. It pairs with your smartphone and coaches you through a full-body strength training workout. It makes integration of an isometric program a no-brainer. You can measure your strength level, gamify your workouts, and track your progress with ease.  That leaves you to just concentrate on your results – and sweating it out, of course!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834101

https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/working-at-a-stand-still-how-to-do-isometric-training

http://jap.physiology.org/content/64/4/1500

http://www.imedpub.com/articles/the-effects-of-maximum-voluntary-isometric-contraction-durations-in-pnf-training-on-muscle-performance.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15462615

The Benefits of Isometric Exercise and Portable Fitness Devices


For those who wish to continue their weight training while on the move, it can be difficult without the aid of a home gym. But with discipline and the use of a fitness device to track your heart rate and calories burned, the simplicity of location allows for an established routine. In turn, you can more effectively generate muscle growth. If you find yourself in this situation or working from home, you should consider isometric exercises because you can do them anywhere.

Isometric Exercise Tips

Gym memberships provide weight machines for the most common muscle exercises: concentric and eccentric contractions. With these, muscles shorten through lifting loads or lengthen through lowering loads. The third contraction, isometric, occurs through steady muscle tension (think the “planking” challenge). Without challenging the muscle to change its length, the body can activate multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Two-thirds of a person’s maximum effort performed for six second sets can increase strength by 5% over a period of ten weeks.

You can practice isometric exercise by using your body weight in exercises such as the squat, lunge, and push-up. Instead of completing a full-rep for these, pause halfway through your range of motion. This will work your agonist muscles as well as your antagonist muscles.

With a bench press and squat, you don’t need a load on a bar for your variations. Set the movement of the pins to the mid-range, and where a sticking point may occur, place a second set of pins. For power racks, set the pins at the next height. This exercise is also useful for a deadlift. Simply place more weight than usual for your one-rep and hold for six to eight seconds.

For additional convenience and coaching, consider a portable fitness device. It can track your progress and provide the necessary resistance to increase your strength and endurance.

Fun Exercises: Jazzercise or Zumba?


Most fitness classes include music, but both Jazzercise and Zumba are fun exercises that step up engagement with dance routines designed to shape and strengthen you. Latin and world beats reign strong in Zumba’s salsa-style cardio routines as participants rumba and cha-cha through the hour. Jazzercise lovers, on the other hand, insist there’s no better full-body workout to be found. If you want to explore the proven mind-body benefits of dance-cardio, learn a little more before signing up for these fun exercises.

Choreography

Choreography is a key difference between the two programs. All Jazzercise routines are designed in California and passed to instructors before teaching them in class. Zumba has a more fluid system in which instructors design dance routines using combinations specific to all Zumba classes. While some participants appreciate the impromptu energy of a loosely choreographed Zumba class, fans of Jazzercise love learning routines by heart and dancing to them on their own.

Music

While the Latin spirit is a consistent theme in Zumba, techno and pop song mixes are also common, especially in the specialty classes that focus on strength-training. Jazzercise classes are less genre-specific and will include a range of routines set to pop songs, Broadway musical tracks, world techno mixes, Latin beats, alternative hits and R&B melodies. Expect to dance to recent releases by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, among many others.

Attire

Both programs have their own brand of clothing, but neither requires participants to wear it to class. Some Zumba dancers wear the trademark drawstring pants, bra tops, and colorful smooth-soled sneakers, and keep their hair down instead of tying it back so their locks move with their bodies. Jazzercise clothing is more form-fitting and in tune with popular fitness style trends. Members wear graphic tanks, compression tights, and open-back jackets and shirts. Because Jazzercise usually includes high-impact routines, most members wear supportive sports bras, well-made athletic shoes and tie their hair back.

Isometrics

Because isometric exercise builds strength and stamina through stationary poses, like planks, it pairs well with a cardio session. While both Jazzercise and Zumba burn fat and build muscle, you might engage in more isometric exercises with Jazzercise. Their routines are inspired by yoga, ballet and pilates, and some of their specialty classes are dedicated to those forms. Zumba continues to expand its program offerings. Specialty classes focused on muscle toning are more common now. You can also do an isometric session on your own. For example, you can press your hands together and squeeze, or try a plank position on your hands or elbows.

Verdict

For all their differences, both are fun exercises that offer a structured environment to burn calories, make friends and get the feel-good endorphins pumping. No matter which program you pick, chances are good you’ll enjoy the chasse and cha-cha toward better health. So why not try them both?

Does Your Portable Fitness Device Really Work?


One of the latest workout trends to emerge, portable fitness devices train people to get fit like never before. Unlike going to the gym, a portable fitness device lets you work out in short intervals whenever your schedule allows it. Still, many people are understandably curious if these portable devices can really provide the same benefits as a traditional workout.

Health Benefits

A portable isometric fitness device creates a wide variety of options when it comes to working out. You can target any area of your body and work at the strength and intensity of your choice. While you won’t bulk up like with lifting weights, you can easily achieve the other health benefits of traditional workouts: toning, strength, endurance, and weight loss. Isometric fitness is designed to be low impact and easier on joints. Therefore, isometric exercise can be more effective for some people, such as those recovering from an injury. Also, you’ll get to enjoy plenty of health benefits, such as a decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Tracking Accuracy

Another question that frequently pops up is how accurately a fitness device can track your movements, heart rate, and calories burned. Fitness trackers often come under scrutiny and some measure up better than others. Most, however, do a pretty good job at accuracy, and the numbers will still give you a good idea of where you’re at in relation to your goals.

Long-Term Effects

Because they’re built to be convenient and fun, portable fitness devices really work. This is one of the best reasons to buy an isometric device. The fact is that when most people try to commit to going to the gym, their schedules quickly end up getting in the way and they stop working out altogether.

With a portable fitness device, however, you can sneak in a workout just about anywhere, meaning you’re more likely to stick with it long term. In addition, the games you can play while working out make it fun and keep you coming back for more. In other words, portable fitness devices often exceed other workouts in sustainability and long-term benefits.