Examples of Isometric and Isotonic Exercise

Our Young For Life program teaches the benefits of using both isometric and isotonic exercises.  These types of activities were very much a part of the Charles Atlas system of Dynamic Tension.  Many exercise systems use some combination of isometric and isotonic, including pilates, yoga, and the martial arts.

From Tracy Roizman, D

Though both isotonic and isometric exercises strengthen muscles, these two forms of exercise differ in fundamental ways. Isotonic exercises involve moving your joints and muscles rhythmically and repetitively through their ranges of motion using low resistance, while isometric exercises are static and require you to contract your muscles without joint motion.


Most sports can be characterized as forms of isotonic exercise. Cycling, swimming, basketball and racket sports all put your joints through various ranges of motion using gentle to moderate stress. Likewise, activities of daily living, such as walking, climbing stairs and gardening, involve isotonic movements including stretching, reaching or bending. This type of movement is less prevalent in modern life, since time and effort-saving machines have replaced many manual labor tasks. Isotonic exercise has a cumulative effect, so it’s possible to fulfill your daily exercise needs with small bursts of activity sprinkled throughout the day, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Leg Extension

If knee arthritis limits your ability to participate in sports or other isotonic activities, try a leg extension. The Arthritis Foundation recommends this safe and effective isotonic exercise for the quadriceps. This exercise strengthens the muscles around your knee without causing impact to the knee joint. Perform this exercise in a seated position in a straight-backed chair. Starting with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet hip-width apart, raise one foot slightly above the floor and slowly straighten your leg. Hold your leg in the straightened position for six to 10 seconds. Slowly bend your knee and return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Shoulder Rehabilitation

You can strengthen and rehabilitate an injured shoulder without putting the joint through excessive movement using isometric exercises. Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center recommends a series of isometric exercises that you can do using just your body or with a wall. To strengthen the front of your shoulder, make a fist with one hand and place it in the palm of the other hand. Holding your arms in front of your chest, press your fist into your palm while resisting with your palm. Hold for a few seconds then relax and repeat. For the back of your shoulder, stand with your back towards a wall. Place a pillow between the wall and your elbow. Press your arm backwards into the wall. Hold for a few seconds then relax and repeat.

Knee and Hip

To strengthen you knee with isometrics, sit on the floor or a table with your leg stretched in front of you. Squeeze your thigh muscle to fully straighten your leg while flexing your ankle and lifting your toes up. Hold the contraction for five seconds, then rest for three seconds. Repeat up to 50 times. Perform an isometric exercise for the hips in a seated position with a pillow, towel or small ball between your knees. Squeeze your knees together and hold for 10 seconds.




For more understanding here is an article from Tom Servo of Yahoo

What Is the Difference Between Isometric and Isotonic Exercises?

Tom Servo

Tom ServoYahoo! Contributor Network
Dec 23, 2011 “Share your voice on Yahoo! websites. Start Here.”

The words isometric and isotonic may sound confusing and complex, but as long as you can remember which is which, understanding the difference between them is actually quite simple. It’s also important to know the difference between isometric and isotonic exercises and how they work because then you can incorporate them into your workout routine so you have a more diversified workout plan better suited for your needs.


The easiest way to understand what isometric exercises are is to just think of them static, or still, exercises, because that’s exactly what they are. When you perform an isometric exercise, you don’t move or put your muscle(s) through any range of motion. You simply hold a pose for as long as you can. Examples would include: holding a static pushup position; holding a dumbbell in one hand mid bicep curl; or even pushing against an immovable object, such as a wall.


Isotonic exercises are the exact opposite of isometric exercises: You are moving and you are working your muscle(s) through a range of motion. Isometric exercises are actually the most common type of strength training exercises people do. For example, lifting weights, calisthenics, swimming, rock climbing, cycling: they’re all isotonic movements.

Which One is Better?

The simple answer is: neither. Comparing isometric to isotonic exercises is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Each one has its own specific purposes. For example, when you are doing an isometric exercise, you are only strengthening the muscle in the position it is being held. That type of training can be very beneficial to athlete, such as a gymnast, who has to support their bodyweight in awkward positions or hold them self in one position for a long time.

On the other hand, an isotonic exercise like weightlifting is going to strengthen your muscles through a range of motion but won’t to much for you in the way of stamina and endurance. Both types of exercises, however, can increase the amount of force your muscles can generate. That’s probably obvious for isotonic exercises, but you may be wondering how an isometric exercise can increase the force your muscles can produce. Imagine you are pushing against the side of a building. There’s no way you can push it over, but if you are pushing as hard as you can, you are generating maximum force just like if you were lifting a heavy weight.

In conclusion, you should incorporate both isometric and isotonic exercises into your workout routine to develop the most effective and well-rounded routine as possible.






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