Isometric exercises are exercises that require muscle contractions without movement. Not too long ago doing planks and other isometric exercises weren’t considered to be very effective for athletes, but over the last few years this type of thinking has been pushed to the curb and now athletes from most sports back rounds have some type of isometric exercise in their strength programming. These exercises include, but are limited to, planks, plate pinches, cable holds, lying back extensions and lying leg holds.
Isometrics are especially important in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are few, if any, sports that require the use of so much isometric strength and endurance. Think about passing someone’s guard, keeping pressure, holding the position and not allowing your opponent on bottom get space. This will require isometric strength and endurance. Think about being on bottom and trying to frame your opponent and make space or keep your opponent in your guard. This too will require isometric strength and endurance.
So, how do you go about adding isometrics into your current strength program? Well, during your strength phase of your program you should be looking to improve your isometric strength. This means using heavier resistance and shorter holding time, such as weighted planks for 30 seconds. When you get closer to competition and enter the sports specific conditioning part of your program you will want to use less resistance with longer hold times such as, body weight planks for 60 seconds.
One of my favorite isometric exercises to do is the reverse barbell plank on a stability ball. It is a little more of an advanced move, but it’s very effective and a good way to add variety to planking. This exercise should be done closer to the end of your program. Try to do this for 3 sets of 30 seconds or if you can’t hold it for that long just hold it for as long as you can.