The Long Lost Tool In Building Elite Athletes-Isokinetic Training
The interwebs can make things go viral-sometimes this happens instantaneously. Other times, it's a resurfacing of something old that's portrayed in new light. Take contrast training or post-activation potentiation training, for example-it's been around for decades-Dr. Yuri Verkoshansky was talking about it ages ago. That said, it resurfaced as a 'new protocol' in the last several years.
I'm predicting the same will happen for isokinetic training-something Dr. Verkoshansky and Russian scientists studied ages ago, which blew up in the U.S. around the 1970's. In the modern era, Marv Marinovich was a major proponent. I learned about it first from Nick Curson of Speed of Sport.
The rise of the strength coach in strength & conditioning has made the barbell king when really the barbell should be king in certain instances. This has made many coaches phobic to innovation and creativity, even when backed by sound science. It's funny how trends dictate science-dominated enterprises, too.
My background is in the arts-I feel creativity, curiosity, and open mindedness are drivers behind much of my willingness to experiment. Isokinetic training and its application to sports performance is no different. Let me throw it out there that I'm not subscribing to isokinetic training as the answer, but I like dosing it in for athletes and/or rehabilitative purposes.
When training to improve performance, it's key to analyze and enhance the speed at which the athlete moves, the speed of extremities in athletic motions, as well as how quickly the athlete explodes in key sport movements. These are components of the science of isokinetic training.
Isokinetics, as a word, is defined as “same speed”, meaning there are no velocity changes within a movement; it is a constant velocity throughout all joint angles. Traditional weight lifting methods are defined as isotonic, which are defined as “same tension”, or in this case “same weight” throughout a movement, with changes in velocity occurring as the joint angle, and muscle length changes.
Conventional weightlifting involves initial force and then inertia through the ROM, not to mention allows the athlete to complete the movement in an unlimited amount of time.
Long married to rehabilitation in the U.S., Russian Scientists actually observed elite results in athletic performance from dosing isokinetics, particularly at specific anatomical power positions relevant to sports. The concept of being able to train the nervous system to move faster than it could with external joint-bearing load, coupled with strengthening the musculoskeletal system through the range of motion are key drivers behind this.
HACKING THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Training for speed, quickness, velocity, explosivity, etc. is limited in most training systems. These exercises have a glass ceiling on how many degrees per second they can train speed work, limiting the speed at which athletes can train.
Isokinetic training-and certain isokinetic machines-allow athletes to train at much higher speeds (up to 900 degrees/sec in some cases) with concentric-only (positive motion) load.
At XIIAM. Labs, my Fast Twitch Training System includes isokinetic training and machines that allow the athlete to train the neuromuscular system to move at much higher velocities that accommodate a higher speed throughout the range of motion. The nervous system is trained to recruit a different neural pathway from brain to muscle, causing a preferential recruitment of white fast twitch muscle fibers. The neural excitation caused by this is unique. The nervous system is trained to move rapidly through the slow twitch and medium twitch peripheral reflex arc and then fire using the aforementioned fast twitch reflex arc. This immediate, targeted training of the Fast Twitch nerve fiber heightens the speed at which muscles react and function.
SURFING THE FORCE/VELOCITY AND STRENGTH CURVES
Power = force x velocity. To be a complete athlete, it's key to work both sides of the equation. Contemporary athletic training sees trainers work the force side with free weights, albeit in an unlimited amount of time. This is fine for strength sports (CrossFit, powerlifting), as well as physique development, but overdosing can actually result in reduced athleticism. Practice makes permanent, particularly when it comes to motor learning and neuromuscular pathways. If you train to move slow, you will be slow.
This isn't to demonize conventional strength training methods or make a blanket statement-merely to emphasize balance and personalization of training. I love conventional strength training for the right setting. Even in certain athletic situations, dosing this can be fine for shoring up certain strength deficits, eliciting certain physiological adaptations, and more.
People like Verkoshansky, Marinovich, and Curson taught me to critically think: Is the athlete who can lift the most the best athlete? In strength sports-yes, but what about basketball, MMA, tennis, football, etc.? Not so much.
If your sport demands speeds of 300-900 degrees per second and you're training up to 10 degrees per second, you're not training in a relevant manner.
Creativity at Speed of Sport in action-a fixie isokinetic set-up for swimming strength & conditioning
The various domains of my training at XIIAM-including isokinetics-further increases power by training the athlete to generate force at top speeds on the velocity side of the equation. Whereas most trainers always blindly add resistance to movements, we also lighten loads with things like isokinetics, CAT, and overspeed methods to train the nervous system to move faster than it could with external joint-bearing load.
We can integrate isokinetic training to drastically impact athletic strength, speed, quickness, reactivity, explosivity, sports endurance, and rehabilitation. This art, science, and technology helps give you-the athlete-unparalleled results.
We can turbo charge this by utilizing our unique isokinetic machinery, as well as the neufit system/NEUBIE device. The former is a machine for isokinetic training. The latter is direct current electrical stimulation, which helps reprogram the nervous system and achieve results from our training sessions-isokinetic or otherwise-in record time.
Using the neufit system's NEUBIE for direct current electrical stimulation along with a plyometric machine.