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What is an Isokinetic Exercise?

Last updated: June 7, 2022

In the past, you may have heard that working on a particular area of your body will help to reduce fat and promote weight loss in that targeted area. This is called "spot training" and has been disproved. The terms "toning" and "buffing" have absolutely no indication of targeting the lipids around an area's mass. The real meaning of "toning" is to pay particular care and attention to an overall muscle group, and either bring it up to speed with the rest of the body, or recover from injury. This is done through Isokinetic exercise.

Throughout the structure of this article, we will explore in depth the meaning of true isokinetic exercise, the myriad benefits that it can produce for your body - and finally, we will list the top three exercises of the most popular muscle groups to help develop your strength training regimen.

What Is Isokinetic Exercise?

Isokinetic exercises are movements that focus on keeping a single factor consistent: speed. This is difficult to do, since, during workout, reps are not usually time, but rather, start off more quickly and taper off as exhaustion and physical exertion sets in. The time between sets and rests also may vary as you progress through your workout. Isokinetic exercises are usually done on a small scale, with a commercial machine. For this reason, reducing the weight and timing sets helps to keep the workout isokinetic.

Isokinetic exercises are widely known for their restorative properties, and with the help of a proper diet and sufficient rest, can help isolate and multiply muscle mass in a particular area that may need some additional work.

What Are The Benefits Of Isokinetic Exercises?

Injury Recovery And Rehabilitation

Perhaps of chief importance to an isokinetic exercise is its rehabilitative properties. Keeping the movement consistent and focusing on an area or targeted muscle group at a time helps to strengthen the area where you have been injured, and bring it back up to speed with the rest of your body. Isokinetic exercises could help open the door to compound workouts in the future.

Increases Muscle Flexibility

Because weight is not the deciding factor, isokinetic exercises are often used to build flexibility where muscles are weak or atrophied. For example, someone that is right hand dominant that has not trained both sides of their body uniformly, should focus on their left hand and side to help match it with the stronger side. 

Prevents risk

Isokinetic exercises help prevent physical risk, both during and post workout. During the workout, keeping your velocity consistent makes it easy to predict your next movement, drastically reducing the chance that you will injure yourself. Strengthening a focused muscle group also has the added benefit that it is less likely to tear or injure when it is next used for dynamic or explosive movement.

Top 3 Isokinetic Exercises 

Stationary bike: The stationary bike is the number 1 isokinetic exercise that does not require a specialized commercial machine. Since many home gyms contain this piece of equipment, it is easily accessible. A stationary bike provides the same amount of resistance and keeps you at the same speed for the entire duration of your "ride". It calculates your revolutions, and usually, adjusts the pace to keep you on the same cadence. This is the epitome of a great isokinetic workout.

Isokinetic squats: Squats are the primary addition to any workout routine as they are the exercise which works the largest number of muscle groups. Squats can be done anywhere, without necessarily needing to use a barbell, rack or a smith machine. Isometric exercises are more about speed than weight, so make sure you are squatting as deep as you can and coming back up at the same time as your other reps. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps. Without timing your reps, this becomes an isotonic exercise.

Swimming: No home gym or gym membership? Pools are an abundant, and somewhat accessible, area to perform your isokinetic exercise without the need of a machine. This is due to keeping your motion consistent, while having the same amount of resistance placed on your entire body (the volume of water will stay consistent throughout the workout). The best stroke to hold a regular cadence would be breaststroke, as you are able to keep your head above water and see where you are going, making it easier to time your reps. Additionally, swimming is attributed to being a low-impact movement, giving it many benefits.


Are isokinetic and isotonic the same?

The prefix "iso" is short for isolation, or an exercise that will target one specific muscle group in the case of a physical movement. There are three types of isolation metrics: Isokinetic refers to the speed remaining constant in terms of muscle contractions. Isotonic refers to the tension, or that the weight used in the workout remains consistent throughout. Finally, isometric refers to length, or that the movement remains the same throughout and does not move your muscles to extend or contract more than necessary.

Are resistance bands considered isokinetic?

Isokinetic refers to the exercise, meaning that it is less about the resistance band itself, and more about the movement. Since the term "isokinetic" refers to keeping a constant movement at the same speed, performing any kind of exercise with a resistance band can be considered isokinetic as long as the reps are done on a regular cadence. For example, seated rows with a resistance band could be considered isokinetic, as you can easily establish a revolving pattern.

Who introduced the isokinetic method?

Isokinetic exercises are often done with the help of a machine, which in 1967 James Perrine introduced the first speed-controlled device to perform this function. A company named Lumex bought the machine and patent from Perrine  two years later, and started mass manufacturing them for the public for use in physical therapy and injury rehabilitation. To this day, isokinetic exercises are used for injury rehab, but public knowledge has led to the adoption of regular isokinetic exercise at home or in the gym.

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