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How Often Can You Do Isometric Exercise?

By Nina K.

Isometric exercises fall under the category of strength training, and it's not safe to perform this type of exercise every day for the same muscles, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. By spacing out your routine, you allow your muscle tissue time to recover, which is essential for the strength-building process as well as your health. In addition, isometric training is not suitable for everyone, so see your physician before attempting to perform these or any other type of exercise.

About Isometric Exercises

Isometric activities include any exercise that contracts your muscle without movement in the joint. For example, you perform an isometric chest press by pushing your clasped hands against one another, forcing your pectoral muscles to contract. Similarly, you can strengthen leg muscles isometrically by sitting in a chair with your ankles crossed and pressing your ankles against one another. Most exercises are isotonic rather than isometric because they involve bending the joints. Isometric exercises may be preferable to isotonic activities for people with restricted movement due to injuries or severe arthritis. For optimal results, hold each isometric exercise for six to 10 seconds, rest for one minute and repeat for three sets.

Isometric Exercise Scheduling

Isometric exercises can be taxing on your body, so you need ample time to rest between sessions. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing strength-training exercises two to three times per week, waiting at least 48 hours before working the area again. However, you may need more recovery time after particularly strenuous workouts or if you are just starting an exercise routine after a mainly sedentary lifestyle. As a general rule, sore muscles are a sign that you need more recovery time.

Health Risks

Harvard Medical School recommends using caution with isometric exercises because they can be hard on your heart, so don't make them the core of your routine. If you have any cardiovascular problems, you may be better off without isometric activities altogether. The Northwestern Memorial Hospital Center for Coronary Disease notes that isometrics create a sudden spike in blood pressure and heart rate while reducing blood flow throughout the body, thereby depriving tissues of needed oxygen.

Building a Routine

Although isometric exercises can be an effective part of your training plan, it's important to build a well-rounded routine that includes isotonic exercises, as well. Engage each body region with activities such as pushups, crunches and squats, or use hand weights or gym equipment such as leg-press or curl machines. Follow the same frequency guidelines for isotonic exercises as with isometric ones, and aim for two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for every exercise.

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