29 January 2020

Isometric vs Isotonic Exercise

If you have a workout plan created by your gym instructor or personal trainer, the chances are high that it will include both isometric and isotonic exercises. Both are strength training exercises, but what are the differences in performance and benefits of isometric vs isotonic exercise?

Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises are also known as static strength training exercises. You perform them by holding a position for a defined period of time. In an isometric exercise, the working muscles do not change their length. They remain in contraction for the entire duration of the activity.

Isotonic Exercises

Isotonic exercises are dynamic. You perform them by moving the muscles through a range of motion for a set number of reps as in weight training, or for a set period of time as in HIIT workouts. In isotonic exercises, your muscles perform two types of contractions. Concentric contractions are where the muscle contracts and shortens when you are exerting force to oppose gravity. Eccentric contractions and where the muscle contracts and lengthens, to control the release of the concentric contraction.

Benefits of Isometric vs. Isotonic Exercise

Both types of exercise have pros and cons. It is a good idea to include both isometric and isotonic exercises in your workout routine so that you can gain maximum benefits.

Isometric exercises carry less risk of both injury and asymmetric training than isotonic exercises. Isometric exercises can attain maximum muscle contraction and are useful in the rehabilitation of injured muscles and tissues. They can also help to improve cholesterol and bone density, protecting against osteoporosis.

Isotonic exercises build strength over a range of motion. This can benefit a person's quality of life when performing regular daily movement. They also pump more blood into the muscles causing increased muscular endurance, cardiovascular health and burn more calories than isometric exercises.

Examples of Isometric Exercises:

  • Plank
  • Isometric ab crunch
  • Static squat hold
  • Glute bridge
  • Overhead hold
  • Static lunge hold

Examples of Isotonic Exercises:

  • Dynamic squats
  • Walking lunges
  • Shoulder press
  • Bicep curls
  • Ab crunches and sit-ups
  • Jogging
  • Calf raises
  • Push-ups
  • Deadlifts


Isometric exercises are performed holding the muscular contraction in one position, which helps to build strength, rehabilitate muscles, and improve bone density.

Isotonic exercises are performed by exerting muscular force across a range of motion, including concentric contraction and eccentric contraction. Isotonic exercises build strength across the entire range of motion and improve muscular endurance and cardiovascular health.

In order to maximize the benefits of your workout, it is essential to include both isotonic and isometric exercises in your routine.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

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