What is an Isokinetic Exercise?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Isokinetic exercises are resistance-based exercises designed to provide a specific level of resistance while maintaining a consistent speed of limb movement. The idea behind this type of exercise is to achieve the highest degree of muscle contraction while also promoting a free range of movement of the limbs. There are several different exercise machines on the market today that help with this form of exercise, although they can generally be classified into two basic groups.

Exercise spurs the pituitary gland to release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.
Exercise spurs the pituitary gland to release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.

There are a number of benefits associated with isokinetic exercise. Because the amount of resistance can be controlled, it is possible to set the level so that the body is challenged but not in danger of straining or pulling the muscles of the legs and arms. This can help maximize the benefit from the workout, in that the muscles are invigorated during the exercises, which in turn promotes the release of endorphins into the blood stream. Instead of feeling fatigued after a workout, it is not unusual for the individual to feel more energetic than before he or she started the exercise.

Isokinetic exercises can speed up the rehabilitation process.
Isokinetic exercises can speed up the rehabilitation process.

Another advantage to using isokinetic exercise equipment is that the movements help to promote positive changes in the tension ratio between muscles and tendons in the legs. The process helps to promote strengthening as well as expansion. As this takes place, the individual usually finds that the range of motion possible is greater than before beginning to work out with this type of equipment.

While isokinetic exercise does not directly target the abdomen, chest, or buttocks, all these areas do receive indirect benefit from the regular performance of these exercises. As the resistance level with the leg and arm exercises increase, the muscle groups in the limbs begin to develop. At the same time, the consistent increase in resistance over time will also help to develop muscles in the lower abdomen, buttocks and chest as the connecting muscles also are placed under some tension. While this type of exercise does not lead to full development of these sections of the body, the exercises can certainly help prepare for middle section for weight lifting, stretches, and other exercises that do target those muscle groups.

There are several examples of isokinetic exercise that are ideal for the beginner. One good beginning exercise is to use a stationary bicycle that can be set to only allow a certain number of revolutions per minute. This helps to set the level of resistance and thus prevent the individual from doing too much too fast. As the leg muscles develop and can accommodate more resistance, the setting can be altered to meet the needs of the individual.

Advanced workout equipment that focus on isokinetic exercise can be found in rehabilitation facilities as well as in health clubs. The typical isokinetic exercise machine can be used under the watchful eye of the physical therapist and adjusted as necessary to create the maximum benefits for the patient. Isokinetic limb movement equipment can be especially helpful when attempting to recover mobility after a stroke or some type of accident that negatively impacted the function of the legs or the arms.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Brickback- I agree with you. I use my stationary bike everyday, and I love it. I just had a question. Would spinning exercises which are done on a stationary bike be considered isokinetic?


Great article- I agree that stationary bikes provide great isokinetic exercise and so do elastic bands and exertubes.

This equipment makes it easy for someone that does not exercise regularly develop muscle tone without stress to the joints or muscles. I prefer using a stationary bike than running on a treadmill.

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