When you think of low-impact, high-intensity isometric workouts, you don’t necessarily think of them as a staple for sprinters and track stars. And yet, we’re seeing a trend of trainers and coaches looking to isometrics to help train their athletes. While there has yet to be a study on the relationship between isometric exercises and speed training, enough experts like Bryson Tucker are seeing significant results from integrating isometrics into their routine.
Why Is Isometric Training Good for Speed?
Sprinting is the only way to speed train, right? Not necessarily. A lot of trainers are actually finding out that intense strength-training is the key to speed training.
A lot of that has to do with how different muscles respond to different kinds of activity.
What Are the Different Types of Skeletal Muscles?
Slow-Twitch Muscles (Type I):
These are the muscles you use for endurance sports, like cross-country. These are the ones that maintain posture and work for an extended period of time. Slow-twitch muscles are typically recruited first during a movement.
Fast-Twitch Muscles (Type II):
These are the muscles used in fast bursts of motion, like sprinting. These muscle fibers are recruited last, and they often require much greater force to be activated. They also fatigue faster than slow-twitch muscles.
How Do Isometric Exercises Affect Fast-Twitch Muscles?
Because they have different activation thresholds, fast-twitch muscles need to be conditioned differently than slow-twitch muscles. So, rather than speed or endurance, intensity is actually the key to activating those fast-twitch muscles.
For instance, running for a long time will mostly activate those low-threshold, slow-twitch muscles. But isometrics, which is known for activating around 95.2% of a muscle group, is a great way to ensure those fast-twitch muscles are actually contracted. And since these muscle fibers are interwoven with each other, the best way to force your body to recruit those motor units (and those muscle fibers), is through intense isometric exercise.
One possible mechanism is that when you’re sprinting for long periods of time, your fast-twitch muscles will fatigue first, meaning at a certain point you’re mostly building endurance with your slow-twitch muscles!
Studies have shown that an athlete’s performance after isometrics is comparable to results from plyometrics, but without the high-impact wear and tear on the joints and ligaments. So, if you’re sprinting for speed and not seeing any results, it may help to incorporate more isometric workouts into your training.
The best method? Try the Activ5 device for quick, supplemental speed-training workouts that won’t cramp your style. Activ5 workouts are personalized, intense, and take less than 5-minutes to complete. So if you’re interested in a new way to speed train, head on over to the nearest Apple retailer to test out the Activ5 for yourself. Hurry!