. Isotonic, Isometric and Isokinetic are all different forms of resistance training

. Important to incorporate a program that is diversified and isn’t too one-dimensional

. Elastic resistance is a useful alternative to conventional resistance

Resistance training can be loosely broken into three different forms: Isotonic, Isometric and Isokinetic. Isotonic generally refers to full motion exercises where you apply weight and then ask the muscle to go through a full range of motion to achieve optimal benefit. Most exercises at the gym fall under this category. In contrast, Isometric exercises are more low impact and body friendly. They are not designed to be quite as strenuous and the biggest difference is perhaps the range of motion that you put your body through during the course of exercise. Resistance is quite often achieved by using your own body weight.

Isokinetic exercises are more of a speed based concept more directed at elite athletes who have to try and develop power at speed to optimise their performance. While you may look to some of these exercises to diversify your program, they probably aren’t quite as important for regular people who would be better served devoting their energies to isotonic and isometric exercises and locking down the basics first. In terms of how you can formulate and structure your resistance training there are some different options and we can take a look at those now. But as this study suggests it’s important to consider all the variables when compiling your program:

‘It is necessary that the advantages and disadvantages of a particular type of strength training are carefully considered before incorporating it into a program. Variables that should be considered include cost of equipment, motor performance increases, amount of strength gains, and range of motion of the strength gains.’ Continuing on that theme, this study states that ‘One of the many variables that coaches and researchers face when designing RT programs is exercise selection. Resistance exercises can be classified according many different criteria, considering the number of joints involved they can be classified as multi-joint (MJ) or single-joint (SJ) exercises.

Most popular recommendations postulate that RT sessions should involve 8 to 10 exercises performed in multiple sets with both single (SJ) and multi joint (MJ) exercises.’ So to achieve optimal benefit, the fundamental theme that emerges is that it’s important to diversify your training with element of both isometric and isotonic concepts, multi-joint and single-joint components, and implement a program that gives you the full complement of benefits and isn’t too one-dimensional.

The next concept is load building. This study looked at the difference in impact between moderate load resistance and low load resistance. The program ran for six weeks, eight exercises, four times a week. The study concluded that both variables help to achieve muscle strength and achieve body composition but that: ‘RT performed with moderate-to-heavy loads is recommended to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres…RT with a low  number of repetitions and intermediate RM is considered an appropriate stimulus to increase strength and skeletal muscle mass. Alternatively, RT performed with a higher number of RM is well recognized to increase muscular endurance.’

So load management is an important concept to consider when deciding if you want to place the emphasis on increasing strength or building endurance because there is a different formula applied to achieve both variables. A large load with low repetitions will help to build strength while a smaller load with more repetitions will help to build endurance. And the final point we will look at in this article is the difference between elastic resistance and conventional resistance. One of the benefits of using elastic bands is versatility and portability.

The drawback is that you might not get as strenuous of a workout as you would with free weights or conventional resistance, but it’s certainly a piece of equipment that is worth investing in because of the convenience and options they provide. But this study certainly suggests that elastic resistance is a very valuable tool and doesn’t lose anything in comparison to conventional resistance:

‘Evidence from this study suggests that resistance training with elastic devices provides similar strength gains when compared to resistance training performed from conventional devices. These findings allow coaches, physiotherapists, and even patients to opt to use devices with low costs, ease of handling, and which can be used in different places, such as elastic devices, for maintenance and gain in muscular strength.’

So there’s a broad overview of the different forms of resistance training at your disposal and the things that you should consider when formulating your workout.

References

NCBI: Types of strength training

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6843979/

NCBI: Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744434/

NCBI: The Effect of Different Resistance Training Load Schemes on Strength and Body Composition in Trained Men

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5548165/

NCBI: Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383082/