Isokinetic exercise requires movements to be performed at constant speed. With this type of exercise, the speed of motion is controlled independently of how much effort is exerted. By allowing muscles to work under resistance over a full range of motion, isokinetic exercises enable muscles to build strength, endurance and flexibility without the risk of injury. Because of the necessity for speed control, precise isokinetic exercises are performed on equipment that is capable of this function, such as Cybex, Biodex and Nautilus. These machines, however, are very expensive and are typically used for clinical rehabilitation and physical therapy.
For fitness purposes, however, speed does not have to be so accurate and movement control can be self monitored. Different levels of training can be achieved by varying the resistance load, the range of motion, the preset speed or any combination of the three. Additional equipment, such as a treadmill, free weights or a Pilates ball, are still needed to perform more advanced training exercises, but these are generally more accessible. Below are three of the more challenging isokinetic exercises you can do:
Jogging on a Treadmill with Weights
This exercise is performed just as the name suggests. Preset the speed of the treadmill to an easy pace and jog with either a 3- or 5-pound dumbbell in each hand or a cuff weight tied to each ankle. The addition of free weights significantly raises the workout intensity of the muscles that even an extra 2-pound addition to each ankle will make the body work 14% harder. Regular performance of this exercise is very effective in building your leg-muscle strength and full-body stamina.
Leg Lift with Pilates Ball
This exercise isolates and tones your lower abdominal and thigh muscles. The moves you need do are quite simple, but they are extremely challenging. Start by lying down flat on your back, legs straight, palms facing down on each side of your body and a Pilates ball between your feet. Lift your legs to the middle of the ball and squeeze so that you have a firm hold of the ball between your ankles. On a count to four, lift the ball with your legs until the legs are perpendicular to the floor. Take one full breath. On a second count of four, lower the ball down to just above the floor without touching. Hold the position for two breaths, and repeat from the start for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Low Squat with Arm Press
For this exercise, it is preferable to use a body bar, but you can also use two dumbbells instead. Stand firmly with your feet at hip distance apart and hold a body bar so that it rests securely behind your neck. If you are using dumbbells, hold them at shoulder height. On a count of three, squat down as low as you can without losing balance, hold for two counts and on a second count of three, press the body bar straight above your head and stand up in one motion. Lower the body bar back to its original position and sit back to a low squat again on the next count of three, then repeat the movement 12 to 15 times. This is an advanced isokinetic exercise that requires exertion from all major muscle groups of the body, and is a highly effective ful-body conditioner.