Understanding isokinetic mechanics
Updated: Mar 22
Isokinetic is defined as a constant rate of speed, regardless of force applied. It is a primary principle of exercise science, for which there are three. These three principles are the basic methods for building muscle: isokinetic, isotonic and isometric.
Today, the fitness industry has broadly adopted isotonic and isometric exercise, as isokinetic exercise requires specialized equipment, making it less attainable for the mainstream. We can compare the three primary principles as follows:
Isotonic – the most recognizable
This method is defined as muscles working against a constant load (load = weight). Isotonic exercise is realized by the application of weight in the form of a barbell or dumbbell. The user predetermines a weight and works against that weight. In this instance, speed varies throughout the range of motion and momentum plays a role in the completion of a rep. The impact of momentum may encourage the application of more weight than a user can effectively and safely move, which can result in poor form and inefficient muscle breakdown.
Isometric – also broadly accepted
This method is defined by muscles working at a constant load, regardless of speed or position. Isometric exercise is realized through static bodyweight movements, such as a plank or wall site. In this instance, the tension of the muscle/s remains constant in a set position. While effective, isometric exercise fails to activate a muscle group across a range of motion, decreasing muscle flexibility.
Isokinetic – the least recognizable, but most valuable (we're biased)
This method is defined by muscles working at a constant speed, regardless of load (or user generated force). Isokinetic exercise is realized through specialized machines that are capable of maintaining a constant rate of speed regardless of force applied by the user. Isokinetic exercise is proven to more efficiently break down muscle, meaning less reps/shorter workouts, with similar results. However, data supports the improvements isokinetic exercise has to explosiveness, speed and muscle flexibility.
While it’s critical to implement a wide range of motions and exercises to maximize physical performance, isokinetic exercise has a place in the broader workout regimen. Our goal is bringing isokinetic equipment to the mainstream, allowing athletes and users of all types to go beyond their personal best.