Ok. So what is an "Isometric Hold"? And why do them?
They have many benefits! My favorites are
1- Feel the burn.
2- Get an amazing pump.
3- You can use them to increase strength and you can use them to overcome problems at particular joint angles you may struggle with.
4- They help me ride better. How? because the stronger you are in the gym, the stronger you are in the saddle and at the barn. You won't need help. Your work will be soooo much easier. And riding becomes easier because I'm stronger. So I can focus less on how tired I am and more on how to effectively time my aids.
"In simple terms, muscle can only contract in a few ways. It can do the obvious and contract to shorten the distance between joints, such as when doing a bicep curl. This is called a concentric contraction, where the muscle tenses while shortening. It can also tense while lowering a load, or resisting it, such as when lowering the weight in a curl. This type of contraction is known as eccentric and occurs when the muscle tenses while lengthening. A final type of contraction is called an isometric contraction, and it occurs when the muscle tenses while not changing length"
Quote and pic taken from: https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/isometric-training-what-it-is-and-how-to-do-it-correctly
Bottom motion = Eccentric
Any Static or motionless hold or muscle contraction = Isometric
So, I first heard of this and tried it while doing "Super-Slow" method weight training with Matthew. He is a certified trainer for that method.
Now when you doing "Super-Slow" your reps are SUPER SLOOOOOW... Like one rep takes 20 seconds, no joke, 10 seconds one way, and 10 seconds back. But you only do one set and you only do each exercise for 2 minutes at most! Usually you can only perform each exercise for about a minute before reaching muscle failure. Reaching muscle failure is the whole point though. When you fully exhaust the muscle it triggers the most strength to be gained. Once I start getting to 1:15 - 1:30 on the stop watch and I'm not reaching muscle failure, Matthew will ask me to hold and squeeze for 3 seconds. Doing so exhausts the muscle faster.
That 3 second hold was static or motionless thus making is Isometric.
He would have me do the same thing for 5 seconds once I hit muscle failure in order to trigger better strength gains.
Next I heard again while watching a video from Heidi Somers on youtube. She simply mentioned holding for 2 seconds and making sure your reps are slow and controlled and in good form of course!
And lastly I was watching one of Christian Guzman's videos on youtube and he mentioned holding the last rep of every set for 10 seconds.
Isometric holds are just holding/squeezing your muscles without moving.
You can do them for 3, 5, 10 seconds or longer.
You can use them while doing just about any weighted or non-weighted exercise.
A plank is a perfect example of a body-weight isometric hold.
During a weighted exercise they should be done on the last rep of every set for maximum effect.
They increase strength, help you get a good burn, will give you a great pump (basically increase blood flow), and help you overcome joint angle problems you may struggle with if you hold it for a few seconds at that angle.
As equestrians we need all the strength we can get and Isometric holds can help us develop the strength we need!
I hope this helps you.