Isometric Disadvantages

Woman in yoga position

Isometrics exercises require no equipment and involve pulling or pushing against an immovable object to produce static force. An example of this is if you were to clasp your hands together with your elbows bent and press your palms against each other. Although this type of exercise has some advantages, notably the ability to be done anywhere, there are also a number of disadvantages.

Limited Strength Gains

If it's overall muscular strength you're after, isometrics won't help you in that department. Isometric exercises fail at effectively building overall strength, according to Mayo Clinic physical education specialist Dr. Edward Laskowski. Your muscles don't lengthen during isometrics the way they do when you perform isotonic exercises such as weight training. Instead, your muscles remain in one position, without going through a full range of motion. This can improve strength in one specific position and angle, but won't do much for building overall strength.

Increased Blood Pressure

Isometrics significantly increase the pressure against your arteries both when your heart beats and in between beats. Although these changes reverse soon after exercise, the effects during exercise are potentially unsafe if you have high blood pressure, according to Erin O'Driscoll, author of "The Complete Book of Isometrics." Aerobic exercise is recommended instead for those with hypertension, because isometrics can place stress on your heart and cause an irregular heartbeat, says O'Driscoll.

Muscle Endurance

Because isometrics require you to tense your muscles, without actually moving, you aren't improving muscular endurance. Weight training, for example, directs blood to your muscles, which increases muscular endurance. When you perform isometric exercises, the blood flow going to your muscles halts, preventing your muscles from benefiting from oxygen-rich blood. In fact, this may actually reduce muscular endurance, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association.


Isometric exercise is not considered sufficient on its own and should be combined with some form of isotonic exercise, which involves controlled movements that lengthen and contract your muscles. Combining isometric exercise with isotonic exercise can help make up for its shortcomings. Isometric exercise is better used in rehabilitation settings where the goal is to provide general conditioning without placing unnecessary stress on the muscles.