Isokinetic Exercise: Meaning, How To Start, Benefits & More

Looking to recover from injury, burn calories, and improve lean muscle mass effectively? Strength training is the best way to do it and is one of the key components to the overall fitness regime for everyone. There are many strength training exercises and among them, isokinetic exercise is the most efficient. Read below to know how to define isokinetic exercise, its benefits and more.

What is an isokinetic exercise?

Isokinetic exercise means any type of movement of the limb where the muscle contracts and reduces at a sustained speed. The contractions used in the isokinetic exercise are used to tone weak muscles and build muscle strength. Isokinetic exercise is training that can be done using bodyweight or other lightweight machines that work constantly. A Home workout can also be done as physical therapy or for recovery when you use exercise machines with constant speed irrespective of the amount of energy you exert. When you use an isokinetic exercise machine, you can do targeted exercise for specific muscle groups and also the range of motion as per your needs.

Isokinetic exercise benefits

There are many Isokinetic exercise benefits since it is in a controlled form. It is also used as a regular exercise routine that treats body imbalances that lead to injuries. It is mostly used for recovery and rehabilitation after a medical procedure, injury, or even stroke. The advantages of isokinetic exercise are:

  • Safe: Perhaps one of the biggest advantages is that it is done in a controlled environment with adjustable resistance, so it is safe. When there is accommodating resistance, the initial inertia to overcome is reduced when starting back from a stop position. Additionally, it is safe for those overcoming injuries, as doing this leads to less likelihood of sore muscles or other complications.
  • Makes the muscles more efficient: It is a great way to increase the capacity of the contracting muscles to their maximum. There is also a decrease in joint compressive forces that leads to more efficient muscles. Moreover, it has a great effect on the core muscles.
  • Nourishes the joints: These exercises mobilise the joints, nourish and prevent deterioration of articular cartilage. In addition, it prepares the joints for weight-bearing and other demanding activities.
  • Promotes change in muscle use ratios: An isokinetic exercise uses varied resistance that provides muscles with a mixed experience. That, in turn, helps to achieve better training results.
  • Helps in data collection: The isokinetic exercise machine is synced to a computer to collect data. The results can also be saved and the data compared to get a better picture.

How to start an isokinetic exercise

Now that you know how to define isokinetic exercise and what its benefits are, let’s understand its execution. An isokinetic exercise is usually done as part of physical therapy and hence machines are mostly used. Every machine used has a specific purpose and is used to target specific areas of the body like the knees, abs, quadriceps, etc. The resistance of these machines can be adjusted as per your requirements. So while starting this training program, ensure it is based on your needs and your goals. Start with no resistance or very little resistance and then slowly move up the ladder. You can also increase the rep count as you have more resistance. Since most of these exercises need machines doing isokinetic exercises at home is difficult, but simple exercises like walking on the treadmill, or stationary biking can be done after consulting your trainer.

While doing isokinetic exercises at home using a machine like a treadmill or a bike, do it for 30 minutes a session. Slowly increase the duration and pace as you progress. Perform these exercises at least thrice a week with a rest day in between.

Do up to 15 reps of three sets while moving slowly if you are joining a class. Use weights that are just enough to fatigue the muscles without overstraining them.

Common isokinetic exercise and equipment

An isokinetic workout is not common and they need special machines. Isokinetic contraction exercises are done on machines that are found in rehabilitation centres and specific gyms. Some of the common isokinetic exercise examples with/without equipment are:

  • Stationary bike: It is a relatively cheaper machine that can be kept at home or found in local gyms. There are various resistance levels on offer and you can pedal harder or at a constant speed based on your goals.
  • Treadmill: Another common isokinetic workout where you can walk and add resistance is the treadmill. You can do so at a constant speed or varying speeds based on your fitness level.
  • Dynamometers: ¬†Isokinetic exercise meaning and goal remains the same when done with/without machines. Chest press, squats, leg press, are some of the isokinetic contraction exercises that can be done using machines or even bodyweight. It can also be done using dynamometers which are special equipment that measures and record the output. These are then analysed by therapists and changes made to an isokinetic workout plan.
  • Swimming: This is among the no-machine isokinetic exercise examples with a conscious effort to ensure the speed is constant and the arm movement.

Tips for doing isokinetic

Isokinetics is usually done with special machines and hence it is performed under the guidance of a therapist who shows the ropes. However, if you are past that phase and can do it on your own, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Speak to your therapist and get a green signal on where you can do this independently.
  • When doing this workout, start on a slow speed and slowly increase the speed, reps, and intensity. If you are doing a workout for beginners, start with a 30 minutes session three days a week and then increase the duration.
  • If you feel pain or fatigue while exercising, stop doing it immediately as continuing may lead to injury. Instead, take a break and then continue. If the pain persists, consult your doctor.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids to replace fluids lost during workouts.
  • Always do warmup exercises and stretching before the workout to prevent muscle aches.


Now that you know what an isokinetic exercise means and its benefits, consult your trainer if it is right for you. Though people use it to recover from injury or illness, it can also be done as part of a routine to increase the range of motion and muscle strength.

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