Understanding the Science of Isometrics

Activ5 utilizes isometrics to act as a highly effective and versatile addition to any strength-training or exercise regimen. To really understand how Activ5 works, it’s helpful to review the foundational science behind muscle activity.

Three Types of Muscle Contractions

The human body is capable of three essential types of muscle contractions – concentric, eccentric and isometric. Concentric contractions occur when a muscle is activated and required to lift a load that is less than the tetanic tension it can generate. As a result, the muscle begins to shorten, and 100$ of muscle fibers are activated. Lifting a dumbbell when doing a bicep curl is a classic example of a concentric contraction.

Eccentric contractions, on the other hand, occur as a muscle is lengthening, and only around 40% of muscle fibers are activated. Lowering a dumbbell during a curl is an example of an eccentric contraction. Because eccentric contractions break down muscle cells, actions that lengthen muscles help enable hypertrophy, the increase in muscle size that many weightlifters crave.

Isometric contractions occur when a muscle is activated, but instead of shortening as in concentric contractions or lengthening as in eccentric contractions, the muscle is held at a constant length. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise, as are many yoga poses.

Overcoming and Yielding Isometrics

Isometric exercises work in two different ways. The first, called “overcoming isometrics”, occurs when you attempt to lift a unit of weight that is beyond your capacity – essentially attempting to move an immovable object with maximum effort. Overcoming isometrics allow you to recruit as many motor units and muscle fibers as possible, “turning on” the muscle for a temporary boost in strength. Overcoming isometrics are often used as part of what strength trainers call “contrast training” in order to improve muscle power.

The second kind of isometric exercise is called “yielding isometrics”, which involves maintaining a static hold in a certain position for a given period of time. Yielding isometrics can be used to help isolate specific muscles to improve muscle mass, either to strengthen a healthy muscle and ensure symmetry or as a physical therapy technique to build up recovering muscles after an injury.

Activ5 uses yielding isometrics to produce measurable results that can help transform your fitness regimen. Check out the following exercises for great examples of yielding isometrics at work:

Plank Crush

Begin on your elbows and knees. Place Activ5 underneath both palms. Straighten your legs, keeping them hip-width apart. Keep your back straight. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Press Activ5 as you squeeze your core muscles.

Bicep Curl (L/R)

Hold Activ5 with your left palm. Lean forward at the waist and place your left elbow on the inside of your left knee. Place your right palm on top of Activ5 and squeeze. Keep both elbows bent at 90 degrees. Repeat on the other side.

French Triceps Press (L/R)

Bend and lift your left elbow to eye level. Make a fist with your left hand. Place Activ5 on the bottom of your left fist with your right palm. Press Activ5 with your left fist and right palm as you squeeze your shoulder muscles.

How Can Parents Keep Kids Engaged and Beat the Summertime Blues?

Parents everywhere await the end of the school year with a mixture of anticipation and dread. On the one hand, your kids are finally free from the stresses and pressures of homework, finals and term papers, while you get a bit of a break from managing and monitoring all the academic, extracurricular and athletic engagements that come along with modern parenting. On the other hand, the structure, supervision and intellectual guidance school offers is suddenly gone, and your kids are left to their own devices (literally—their eyes will likely be glued to their devices if you don’t step in.) On top of that, many of the various camps, sports activities and family vacations that traditionally offer some form of relief from the summer doldrums are simply not feasible or safe in midst of the ongoing global pandemic, making things even more challenging for kids and parents alike. What’s a conscientious but busy parent to do?

Make Reading Fun

Many kids probably won’t be itching to get their hands on a book as soon as the school year ends, and that’s understandable. They’ve (presumably) been putting in hours upon hours of academic work each day, and it’s fair to want a break. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on intellectual pursuits completely. Studies have shown that students who read at least 20 minutes a day develop wider vocabularies, perform better on standardized tests, show an increased general knowledge and gain a greater understanding of other cultures. While those facts alone may not make your child more eager to read during summer vacation, you can take a few simple steps to encourage reading. Set up a family reading challenge, for example, with a fun reward at the end of the summer for whomever reads the most. Or set aside a regular time each evening where everyone in the household takes a “reading break” and then discusses what they’ve been reading with each other. You can also create a “page-to-screen” project where everyone reads a book or series and then watches the movie or TV version. Most importantly, help your child find reading material that matches their individual interests, so it doesn’t feel like just another assignment. Comic books, gaming magazines, science fiction novels—it’s all reading, and it’s all good!

Tie Screen Time to Productive Activity 

Negotiating “screen time” is the bane of many a parent’s existence, especially during summer vacation. Finding the middle ground between a complete ban on all technology and 12-hour-a-day gaming sessions can be tricky, but one solution is to consider tying screen time to a set of daily activities. Let your kids “earn” screen time, up to a reasonable limit, by completing household chores, say, or spending a certain amount of time outside gardening, or helping prepare meals. Whatever your activity of choice, you can create a daily routine that strikes the right balance between the virtual and real worlds without making your child feel like they’re being punished. 

Stay Fit Even When PE Class is Out of Session

The biggest challenge for many parents over summer vacation is making sure their kids stay fit and active without the benefit of PE class or school sporting events. That challenge is even more daunting during a quarantine, of course, and many families don’t have access to big yards, home gym equipment or a driveway basketball hoop. That’s where Activ5 can help. Fitness experts agree that if a child is old enough to participate in team sports, they’re generally old enough to engage in some form of strength training. The convenient isometric exercises offered by Activ5 are an ideal way to work in some physical activity and build strength in convenient five-minute stretches. By blending fitness with screen time, they won’t even realize that what they’re doing is beneficial for their bodies!

Here a few exercises you might want to try with your kids: 

Boat Pose: Begin seated on the ground with your knees bent, hip-width apart. Place your Activ5 between both palms, and extend your arms out in front of you. Slightly lean back, keeping your back straight, chest open, and core tight. Press the Activ5 as you squeeze your core.

Chest Press: With your elbows out, hold Activ5 between both hands in the prayer position. Press both palms into Activ5 and squeeze your chest muscles.

Wall Squat: With your back against the wall, place the Activ5 under your left heel. Slide down the wall into a squat. Reach your arms in front so they are parallel to the floor. Press your left heel into the Activ5 while squeezing your left quad.

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. 


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.