Do Isometrics Burn Calories?
Muscles in themselves burn calories, and strenuous exercise has a great effect on burning calories in the body, but do isometrics burn calories? Is an isometric workout strenuous enough to burn fat in the body?
One isometric exercise case study performed by the owner of Isometric-Training showed a cut of 20.3 lbs of fat in 4 weeks. That was a total loss of 9.4% body fat, not water weight. Furthermore, he showed that, by doing isometric exercises, he burned 14lbs of body fat in 7 days, with video updates and archiving each aspect of his training. 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 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Ah well, that research must be outdated by now, as much as exercise science changes over the years.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.
There are hordes of thoughts about the best method of strength training; what I will say is that your regimen should include something that builds your body from the inside out. For me, isometric exercises build strength from the tendons, ligaments, and nerves out to the muscles. I do training that isolates individual muscles for maximal muscle fatigue, and training that involves large muscle groups for fatigue of the central nervous system. As long as your training does not neglect internal principles of strength (like bodybuilding training that focuses solely on muscle without long-term development of the tendons), it can be a part of what gives you stability and fat burning ability.
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).