Posts Tagged ‘isotonometrics’

Image Courtesy Suppeversity Blog

Suppversity is a brilliant blog to read… Here’s one of their latest articles on fatburning you should read for yourself:

HIIT or LISS – A Question of Efficacy? High Intensity Interval Training Kickstarts Fatty Acid Oxidation & Metabolism to Make Up for the Higher Energy Exp. During LISS in 24h

It’s not only worth reading, but thinking through in light of Dr. Leonard Schwartz’ philosophy of Panaerobics because – as you know – Dr. Schwartz approved of and encouraged the use of intervals and brief workouts, but NOT in the ways they are conceived in light of the modern discussions about “High Intensity Interval Training” and total exercise time.

(Just so we’re all on the same page “HIIT”, again, stands for High Intensity Interval Training. “END” stands for “endurance training” which for this study’s purposes are the same as “LISS” = “Low Intensity Steady State” exercise.)




It’s possible to read about Dr. Schwartz’ IsoTonoMetrics in the patent filing on Fitness Method and begin to understand the concepts behind “isotonometrics”. The allusions to isometrics and dynamic tension are giveaways and can help people get started doing “ISO” even before being able to watch the Schwartz video on the topic.

There are some reasons why Dr. Schwartz may have chosen to retain all the handclasps as they are shown and this blog post – at best – hazards a guess at “why”?

For one thing, recall that while the video and patent filing represent a “finished product”, the development of IsoTonoMetrics had been well tested in the lab to make sure that this panaerobic exercise was as helpful as “HeavyHands” or “Longstrength” calisthenics is aerobic effect and strength development.

So – at the very least – these handclasps were chosen – even the ones that may feel “weird” – after making sure they could at least provide a solid workout aerobically while functioning to build strength as well.

Why do they seem so weird still?


Creative Commons Licensed Image

Creative Commons Licensed Image

If you had a leaky faucet and a plumber came out and announced they were done when they’d only fixed 35% of the leak, you’d be mad!

If you went to the operating room for an appendectomy and they only took out 35% of your problematic appendix, you’d still be sick!

If you opened your pay stub and found you’d only received 35% of the money you thought you had earned, you’d be pretty steamed!

When you expect 100% effectiveness but learn later you’re only being 35% effective, you suddenly realize something has to change…

That’s precisely the point Dr. Schwartz was trying to make about “panaerobic” exercise whether you’re talking about “HeavyHands“, “IsoTonoMetrics” or “LongStrength” Bodyweight exercises.

When you’re trying to get the best overall results from aerobic exercise but only exercise your LEGS, you’re only operating at 35% effectiveness.

Why? The legs ARE powerful aerobic “drivers” to be sure, but they only comprise about 35% of the body’s whole muscle mass.

The person who is able to harness both the LEGS and UPPER BODY MUSCLES (the other 65% of the body’s muscle structure) in their exercise will be able to generate far more work, process far more oxygen, burn more calories, maintain more lean muscle mass, and do so with less “perceived exertion” than the person trying to accomplish the same thing using their legs alone.

Many exercise systems target the “whole body” in one way or another, but Panaerobics are unique in their self-conscious attempt to harness all four limbs (or as much muscle mass as possible) simultaneously during exercise! In Panaerobics while any particular move may emphasize various sectors of the body at a given time… such as a “pump and walk” which tents to emphasize the biceps and shoulders along with the muscles used to walk … there are no “Panaerobic Isolation Exercises”. Users are encouraged to “spread out” their activity so that a “pump and walk” routine becomes increasingly mixed with other elements to engage more and different muscle groups… like the “Duck Walk” which activates the front of the thigh (the quadriceps) much more effectively than ordinary walking while swinging the HeavyHands high to activate a different set of shoulder and upper back muscles while processing even more oxygen than ordinary walking could ever hope to!

HeavyHands DuckWalk

HeavyHands DuckWalk

In Panaerobics, even small – seemingly insignificant changes – can make all the difference in the world for aerobic effectiveness and muscle activation. Those who “carry” weights at their sides while walking receive almost no benefit. Those who move the weights to hip level (“Level 1”) begin to receive some benefit. Moving the weights to shoulder height (“Level 2”) begins to produce a strong cardio-respiratory response while moving the weights to head height or above (“Level 3” or more) produces the utmost in cardiac response during exercise.

In the same way, small weights lifted high while walking  can produce as much or more actual “work” than lifting heavier weights more slowly!

As Dr. Schwartz’ books testify, dozens (if not hundreds) of possible movements are available to exercise as close to 100% of the body’s musculature as possible in a given workout!

By creeping forward at a snail’s pace while performing the “Swing and Sway” with HeavyHands, Dr. Schwartz estimated he could burn over 1,900 calories per mile! That’s a far cry from the traditional expectation that the average person burns about 100 calories per mile! Panaerobics “change the game” and create new opportunities for fitness and for fun while exercising.

Oddly enough, even doing lower body movements while doing what are otherwise called “dynamic tension” or “self-resistance” movements can have profound panaerobic results that can provide more aerobic training than running while building upper body strength! Like the hand movements with weights, the higher the arms move upward under tension while the lower body moves, the greater the aerobic benefit along with the strength benefit for the upper body.

One type of movement that was not stressed by Dr. Schwartz so much while discussing Heavyhands actions were Circumferential and Figure 8 movements. The first refers mainly to torso and body twisting during movements to stimulate the abdomen (obliques) encouraging the arm movements to “wrap around” the body. That term can also apply as the arms move in circular patterns behind or in front of the head while bending from  the waist from the 10 to 2 position on the face of a clock … or even more deeply perhaps.



Figure 8’s refer primarily to the pattern of the “handtrail” created by the “handclasp”. Moving the locked hands in a Figure 8 pattern allow more muscles to be engaged than simply a straight movement which travels either vertically or horizontally. Depending on the weight though, light HeavyHands can be used in Figure 8 patterns as Dr. Schwartz is often depicted as doing in his books!

The question remains… are you settling for a 35% solution when you could workout out much more effectively by engaging as much muscle as possible by performing Panaerobics?

Strongman Alexander Zass was known for specializing in Isometric Exercise

Strongman Alexander Zass was known for specializing in Isometric Exercise

Was Dr. Schwartz a fan of Isometrics? Good question. Some say a definitive “no”. Even his “isometric like” exercises were “isotonic”!

The answer is probably more nuanced in reality.

On the sidebar of page 164 of  “HeavyHands:The Ultimate Exercise” Dr. Schwartz discusses isometrics.

He finished the sidebar by noting that at the time of publication, the opinions of physicians had changed regarding the usefulness of isometrics. Before that, some felt that isometric exercise dangerously increased blood pressure and was useless as an exercise protocol.



If you’re familiar with Charles Atlas or other self-resistance exercise systems (sometimes called “Dynamic Self Resistance” or “DSR”) Dr. Schwartz’ IsoTonoMetrics may still seem baffling to you. Don’t worry, many people are similarly baffled at first!

Look at it this way, if you’re familiar with a variety of self-resistance exercises already, you’re half way there!

The difference between a classic dynamic self-resistance exercise and an “IsoTonoMetric” is that in addition to the basic self-resistance movement other movements are added to

A. Activate all four limbs
B. Involve as much muscle as possible
C. To build strength and endurance simultaneously

Ok so let’s get more specific and turn a classic dynamic self-resistance exercise into an “IsoTonoMetric”!


handclasps2 Recently on an internet forum, someone expressed doubt that Dr. Schwartz had promoted any other exercise protocol besides “HeavyHands”… especially one requiring NO EQUIPMENT! Why? Dr. Schwartz is known as the “HeavyHands” man! Unlike some fitness gurus who are “one trick ponies” it seems, Dr. Schwartz was too interested in learning new things and actually helping people even if it meant advocating a fitness method that worked without equipment! Working out without equipment was simply a logical extension of his findings while studying the impact of HeavyHands. As such, it was to be embraced on its own merits even though he never suggested that anyone STOP doing “HeavyHands”. They fit perfectly together in his mind.

rebounder1“Exercise intensity increased by addition of handheld weights to rebounding exercise” This older study (1995)  looked into the effect of using hand held weights to increase the intensity of rebounding exercise. They concluded “The addition of [Hand Held Weight or HHW] exercise to rebounding substantially increases exercise intensity. Because rebounding without weights results in a relatively low intensity, the addition of HHW should be considered in the use of rebounding for cardiovascular training.”

What’s a rebounder?  It’s essentially a mini-trampoline. There are many incredibly cheap ones that could injure you and then there are the rebounders warrantied for users up to 400 pounds with a premium price, and rebounders priced at the mid-range with a good reputation like the Urban Rebounder “as seen on TV”!

Advantages to the rebounder vary by who you ask. Zealous promoters of these products list numerous benefits which to some degree are likely true. Less dramatic promoters highlight the ability to use these devices to work at home, promote circulation and healing, and as a platform for exercise that can be as challenging as you wish to make it! Before outrageously expensive “treadmills” rebounders or mini-trampolines were the standard device for people training indoors. Many trainees considered them excellent tool for developing leg strength thanks to the jumping and the high “G” force landings that could be created for experienced users. (Inexperienced users can potentially injure themselves even on premium rebounders!) Unlike any other training device, the rebounder allows for the development of balance and agility while working out… attributes appreciated more as folks age and the tendency is to become unstable.