IsoHolds for Better Form and Progress

There is no doubt in my mind that one of most effective ways to groove movement patterns (primarily upper body) is to incorporate some type of isometric hold for beginning or young athletes either in-season or off-season strength programs.  The added benefits of adding some kind of isometric hold into programming are…

  • Increase central nervous system efficiency,
  • Muscle mass (more time under tension)
  • Reinforces good posture and stability
  • Less stress on joints and muscles (Eccentric Quasi Isometric Holds would be slightly different here)
  • Can improve upon weak points
  • Can improve ROM
  • They are tough  – can create mental toughness having to fight through a hold

Susended Row Hold

The downsides are that they are typically seen as boring, the intent has to be there to execute it well (just like everything else though) and there seems to be limited amounts of time that you can use this training.  For some of the youngest athletes, incorporating “slow strength” is one of our primary goals because grooving patterns is  always first for those that do not move well.  Exercises like push-ups, low-pulley rows, and goblet squats are exercises that all can benefit from adding in short holds.  If you do not know what I mean by this, take yourself and see if you can hold a push-up position (at the top, elbows extended) for 30 seconds.  Can you keep perfect form without any compensations (letting your hips sag or chin poke forward)?  First, this is one reason why it is beneficial to know why to regress to an incline push-up. Second, after using it with many young athletes you can see the added benefit of how it improves form and control.  Athletes, regardless of age could benefit from these as well.

A typical progression or beginning program idea would be this…

Ex. Low-Pulley Rows:

Week 1 &2 3 x 8 (normal reps)

Week 3&4 3 x 10 (normal reps)

Weeks 5&6 3 x (8x3s) —> Hold at end range, squeezing shoulder blades back and down

Weeks 7 &8 3 x (6x3s)

More than anything adding in short isoholds can improve upon technique with a few basic exercises and make it a quality progression to simple programs.  I started incorporating suspended row holds with the young Comcast teams with good progress and teaching rowing patterns is one that I consider extremely important when so much emphasis is put on pushing movements nowadays.  With the TRX/Jungle Gym straps it allows anyone to row effectively because the handles on the strap can be easily adjusted which makes it a great piece of equipment with multiple uses at varying difficulties.

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving,


Categories: Strength Training


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