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Do Isometrics Burn Calories?

Batman O'Brien before isometric exercise trainingBatman O'Brien before isometric exercise training
Batman O'Brien making a compelling argument that isometrics do, in fact, burn calories

You know now that isometric exercises build muscle. Muscles in themselves burn calories, but do isometrics burn calories?

20.3 lbs of fat in 4 weeks. A total loss of 9.4% body fat. That is how much fat was cut in a manner of for weeks from isometric exercises in one case study (I'll add a copy of the case study at the end of this article, just so that you can see for yourself).

Not good enough? Well how about the case when, by doing isometric exercises, one man burned 14lbs of body fat in 7 days. That’s a roughly 49,000 kcal deficit in one week. These numbers don’t appear from thin air; real people have performed isometric exercises of varying intensities in order to reduce not just water weight from their bodies, but actual body fat. Isometrics don’t simply burn calories; they turn your body into a furnace that can torch the calories like a space shuttle does jet fuel.

Isometric Exercises Burn Calories, The Art


Isometric exercises are incredible versatile, and the huge varieties of training styles makes for a vast array of benefits. Isometric exercises taught in yoga can be phenomenal for improving blood flow throughout the body, opening up the joints, and improving the strength and pliability of the tendons and ligaments in your body. Tai chi and similar energy arts will do the same.

Gymnasts also do isometrics, moving in and out of isometric holds that progressively improve their joint loading abilities, again strengthen the tendons, and build up muscle through myofibrillar growth over the course of time.

Maximally trained isometric exercises, also known as overcoming isometrics, can turn your muscles and tendons into absolute steel, and give you the ability to bend steel if you wish to train as an oldtime strongman. Such diverse training methods allow for different calorie deficits, depending on intensity of the exercise, as well as duration. 

Isometric Exercises Burn Calories, The Science


Isometric exercises are a critical key to lean functional muscle, as they have been in the martial arts for hundreds, yet thousands of years. Even without addressing the art behind isometrics, the science is irrefutable; in 1954, two German scientists, Muller and Hettinger, conclusively proved in over 5,000 independent clinical trials, that one could increase strength by 5-15% with a single 7 second stimulation once a week. Subjects in a later study performing a daily 7 second contraction increased their strength by 72% in 46 weeks. The fall of strength after the end of training is very slow. 70 weeks after the end of training their strength was still 42% higher than before the beginning of training. After doing nothing for over a year and a half they were still 42% stronger than when they started.

Ah well, that research must be outdated by now, as much as exercise science changes over the years. I suppose I’ll have to refer to this study by John Little (et. al. 2006) which showed a single 5 minute routine comprised of 10, 7 second contractions produced up to 9.3lbs of muscle tissue. That is enough muscle to drastically increase your body’s resting ability to burn body fat.

But a true fat burning fitness program cannot only have intensity. In fact, when you look at cardio machines in the gym, the core of their effectiveness is in interval training. Having a metabolic calorie increase from intense interval training, coupled with a massive calorie demand from intense muscle training will do wonders to burn calories in the body, and isometric exercises will do both. 

Naturally, nutrition will play a strong role in your body’s ability to burn fat; isometric exercises will still burn calories, but it would be more like a tug of war match between your fitness and your diet, when it should be a team relay to the lean muscle finish line. It is not as simple as eating fewer calories than you burn, and isometrics can burn a LOT of calories.

It also means things such as eating protein that will promote muscle growth, eating saturated fats that actually promote your metabolism, and slowing down with your meals (takes about 20 minutes for your brain to note that food is filling your stomach to trigger a cessation response -- slowing down your meals can mean feeling full, and avoiding overeating).

For the link to the case study on how isometric exercises helped Batman O'Brien lose 20.3lbs of body fat in 4 weeks, click right here. If you have thoughts or questions about the article, please post them below!

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