Isometrics are not often used in sports specific strength and conditioning. Because most sports are dynamic in nature, isometrics aren’t obvious to they eye and thus aren’t trained.
In MMA, isometrics can add another element to your game that can help you submit your opponent, escape a submission, or achieve a dominant position whether standing or on the ground.
For example, if you get caught in an armbar and your opponent doesn’t immediately lock you in, you’ve got some time to escape. How long you have depends on your ability to keep your arm flexed using your biceps while trying to move your body around so that your arm is in a safe position.
Another example is when you’ve got a triangle locked in. Submitting an opponent with a triangle is no easy task, so you’ve got to have the ability to keep your knees squeezed tightly together for an extended period to tire your opponent out to make him tap.
A final example is in the clinch. When you’re pummeling back and forth with an opponent or you have a single-leg, you’ve got to hold your arms in a certain position against his bodyweight – this is isometrics in action.
So how do you train isometrics in the gym?
My favorite way to do it is to throw isometrics into the middle of a set. That would mean if you’re doing 12 reps of an exercise, after rep 6, you do an isometric hold at the middle of the range of motion, then finish the set off.
Or, you can break it up into thirds, so you can do an isometric hold of 5 seconds after the 4th rep, 8th rep, and at the end of the set.
But let me warn you – this method is difficult and burns, making it a great method for training mental toughness at the same time.
Here are 3 of my favorite exercises to use isometrics with:
1) Inverted Row
- Hang under a barbell with your feet on a swiss ball so your body is parallel with the floor
- Hold when your elbows are at 90 degrees
- Do your standard push-up, or put your feet on a ball for an added challenge
- Hold at 90 degrees of elbow flexion
3) Leg curl on Swiss ball with knee squeeze
- For this one, you need a squishy child’s ball
- Put it between your knees and for the entire set of leg curls, squeeze the ball together as hard as you can
So now you have 3 exercises and a new method for developing your MMA strength and conditioning. Put these into your workout routine and you’ll be tapping people out when you would’ve given up before, and you’ll take your MMA game to the next level.