Many sports teams and athletes have adapted martial arts and specific Bruce Lee techniques into their practices for a very long time. Truthfully, it has been going on since the 1970s. In 1977 Bruce Lee’s, protégé Dan Inosanto, taught martial arts techniques to the Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen. The result, made the defensive linemen faster, more explosive, and agile, and they won the super bowl that year. Bob Ward, the strength and conditioning coach, said that Dan was their secret weapon. And, players like Randy White said, Dan’s training took their football performance to the next level.
Today, football, hockey, rugby teams, etc., use martial arts training in their practice sessions. It is highly effective because you learn to leverage your opponent in martial arts like Jeet Kung Do (JKD). Similar to isometric exercises, they strengthen specific leverage positions and ranges of motion points.
One of Bruce Lee’s training regimens to be more explosive and faster was isometric training. Bruce Lee was a big fan of isometrics. He did it 2-3 times a week. Isometrics helped Bruce Lee and his offense and defensive martial arts techniques, be faster and more explosive. And if the methods taught by Dan to the defensive linemen made them quicker, well, now imagine combining the two! For now, let’s understand isometrics.
What are Isometrics?
Isometrics are perfect for developing strength, speed, explosiveness, body control, postural strength, and stability. You need all these things to enhance and boost your sports strength and performance.
Isometrics are a force generated against an immovable object. For example, when you push against a truck, you can’t move the truck. So, with isometrics, you can use maximal effort. In addition, isometrics strengthen your whole body and a muscle’s specific range of motion. As a result, you can train at any angle possible to be stronger and more explosive from a sport-specific movement, like a lineman.
Isometric Strength from Different Angles
Training at different angles is essential for maximal strength development because the force changes in each range from the bottom, middle, and top. Your movements vary in force during a full range of motion. Let me explain.
For example, the most challenging part of a movement is not from the start or the finish. Instead, the hardest part is in the lower to the middle range, the isometric part. That is where the greatest amount of force is generated.
When you lower the weight down, your isometric strength is what reverses the direction of the motion up. When the weight rises above the isometric midline, the force begins to decrease. However, your muscles remain in the isometric mid position for about a second. The isometric position is where your explosiveness happens. So, if your isometric base is weak and cannot sustain force, your speed and explosiveness will not be effective.
Isometric training is an excellent way to solve specific weak phases of movement. However, the weakness in a particular part of the movement will cause you to cheat or compensate to finish the repetition. Consequently, the muscle fibers will not become stronger because of compensating the movement.
Benefits of Isometrics
The isometric part of your movement is the platform for speed and explosiveness. A perfect example of visualizing your isometric platform is by bouncing a ball. If you bounce a ball on the concrete, it will bounce high. If you bounce a ball in the sand, no bounce. Another important aspect of isometric training is, your strength develops 10 degrees above and below the isometric point. For this reason, you only need to train 1-2 positions. Training all three is ok too! Isometrics:
- Improve flexibility because of the PNF response using resistance in the isometric movement.
- Synchronizes all your muscles to fire simultaneously.
- Strengthen angles at a particular range of motion, especially weak points.
- Enhance the ability of the nervous system.
- Strengthen postural muscles that strengthen alignment.
- Strengthen muscles that provide joint stability.
- Isometrics can help resolve back and neck weakness.
How to do Isometrics?
A good isometric routine consists of 2-3 parts of the movement. First, set the angle at the mid-range of the motion, the furthest point of your stretch before you lift the weight upward. Then, using maximal effort, try to lift the weight holding for 6-12 seconds. However, don’t just go from zero to 100% effort. As you perform an isometric movement, gradually increase your effort to 100%, then count 6 seconds after that. Safety first! You can also choose the angles you want to train or where you feel weakest. Remember, you will not lift or move the weight.,
Bruce Lee’s Isometric Routine
Bruce Lee performed a very basic isometric routine using eight different exercises. He completed each exercise once (1 set) with maximum effort for 6-12 seconds.
Here is a video of Bruce Lee’s isometric routine.
One rep for each motion is plenty. The routine should only last 15-20 minutes. Don’t force or strain your body!
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