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Wholebody Fitness for Seniors VHS
Dr. Leonard Schwartz created a video to demonstrate the performance of “isotonometrics”. Oddly enough the video title did not include the name!
The video is still available in VHS format: WholeBody Fitness for Seniors
If that is no longer available, the reader can read the patent filing related to “hand clasps” or “isotonometrics” and envision how they might be used along with Dr. Schwartz’ “in place” exercise moves shown here with weights at DailyMotion.
From Dr. Schwartz’ patent filing, here is his intended result for the type of exercise revealed in the video:
A fitness method for an exerciser combines the benefits of isometric-like exercising with isotonic exercising for simultaneous training of the exerciser’s cardiovascular and skeletal musculature systems and strength and endurance buildup. The method entails coupling the exerciser’s hands together in any one of a number of configurations and generating an isometric-like force during the coupling stage. The coupled hands can then be moved in any number of directions or coupled differently while maintaining or varying the isometric-like force during the movement. In addition, further training can be achieved by moving one or more other body parts during the coupled hand movement. The legs, torso, shoulders, and/or neck can be moved in any number of directions or sequences to exercise different muscle groups in conjunction with the muscle groups being worked by the movement of the coupled hands.
Though the video is intended for “seniors”, any fitness enthusiast may use the method. It was designed for anyone wishing to exercise without hand weights for whatever reason. Using this method, it is easily possible for even well conditioned athletes to do enough work to obtain a whole body aerobic effect as long as all four limbs are engaged in some fashion in a steady movement. Adding speed, pressure to the hand clasp, adding self-imposed tension in other areas of the body apart from the handclasp, or some combination of all these will ensure that the person exercising with this method is able to raise their heart rate into the “aerobic training range”.
Like all of Schwartz’ exercise protocols, the cardinal rule is to engage as much muscle tissue from as many body sectors as possible throughout the movement. This minimizes the stress on any one muscle group, reduces overall soreness after exercise, and processes the most oxygen in the quickest amount of time to mimic the cross country skiers who were his original inspiration.
So was this “isometrics”? Or “dynamic tension”? Or something else? That will be explored in a future article!
What is IsoTonoMetrics – Via the “Way Back Machine”
What exactly are “Isotonometrics”?
Basically they are Dr.Schwartz’ combination of “Isotonics” and “Isometrics” in one movement… a “moving isometric” or what some call “isomotion” today…
The “isometric resistance” was produced by a variety of “handclasps” where one arm resists the other through pushing or pulling in varying directions. Unlike traditional isometrics or “dynamic tension”, the arm movements were incorporated into larger body movements to activate as much muscle simultaneously as possible. Body twists, knee dips, waist bends, lunges, etc where mixed with hand resistance moves.
It was not only the arms that were involved …
Dr. Schwartz also envisioned hand to leg resistance. One move mentioned in a patent application for this method mentions sitting on the floor in a knees up position. The hands/arms can then be used to provide resistance to the knees as they flex outward or inward working first the outer thigh muscles then the inner thigh muscles.
However accomplished, the motion followed the doctor’s usual principles… of activating as many body parts simultaneously as possible and not letting the upper body be neglected during “aerobic” exercise. Using his methods, “isotonometrics” could produce aerobic effects equal to his other exercise protocols.
The extended quotation below explains the concept in Dr. Schwartz’ own words as they appeared on the now defunct “panaerobics.com” website.
(There is a site by that name, but it is not Dr. Schwartz’ site any longer!)
This quote was accessed by way of the internet archive called the “WayBack Machine”
ISOtonometrics is not just exercise for you, ISO is YOU!
Most popular exercise these days involves apparatus of some kind. Others offer a linear approach to fitness; get your “aerobics” at one time, focus on “body-sculpting,” strength work, or other fitness factors at another. Sound familiar? Not with ISO!
Better prepare yourself for some quantum, perhaps heretical leaps! ISO is an exercise discipline that galvanizes most every bone, muscle, tendon, ligament and joint you’d care to include, well orchestrated with an increasingly effective heart action. All this can be accomplished with no hardware outside the very body whose function and structure you’re out to preserve, enhance and gussy up to look like you want it to. As a whole-body exerciser, your Isotonometric ‘gym’ is always located precisely where you happened to be! Once that sense of ‘autonomy’ is acquired you’re home free!
Even though ISO developed into an exercise system ideal for all you dancers, athletes, weight-loss-seekers, casual or obsessive exercisers, it began as a personal exploration. ISO evolved from exploration a system I developed in the 1980’s – Heavyhands. When I began my late-career leap into the exercise field – and the eventual development of Panaerobics and Heavyhands – I had several objectives in mind. I wanted my ‘strategy’ to be novel, simple, relatively inexpensive, utterly convenient, able to bring the exerciser all or almost all exercise can confer. Heavyhands did all that while including easy to use equipment that served as a catalyst for gaining the basic exercise benefits-and maybe a few more-simultaneously.
Seems the word “simultaneous” was key to my system. Lots of muscle groups trained simultaneously; lots of fitness factors, i.e., strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and skill, also gained during the same session; and of course I wanted exercise that fulfilled the fundamental fitness requirements, all while making for better performance in relation to work and recreation-you guessed it-simultaneously! (The “S” Factor)
In short, I wanted this exercise to be at once the very best and the most diverse available, acquired by dint of the most convenient, yet varied, tactics I could conjure. Heavyhands provides a unique brand of fitness.
Important to me, while I was at it, was making it fun. In my first book, “Heavyhands: the Ultimate Exercise System”, a primer teaching a hand weight-assisted whole body exercise system, I simply ducked the fun issue. That’s because the physician/psychiatrist part of me was getting more excited about the varied and growing list of measurable benefits of exercise as well as the well-documented added risk that came with being sedentary. Fun was okay, even pure wonderful, maybe for many a it is motivational must. But twenty years ago, I didn’t want to leave people with the impression that the down and dirty benefits weren’t good enough to be worth the toil – even if the process wasn’t pure pleasure!
A few years ago experts began suggesting that easy-does-it where it comes to exercise. Some went so far as to advise those who wanted to lose weight to work out at low levels of intensity. That advice was likely based on the fact that low intensity workouts were consist with metabolic activity that favors fat utilization. That argument never did convince me that low-intensity was the best fat-loss, weight-loss route because it avoided the speed at which calories of heat are expended!
I mention that trend and research because over two decades of exploration in exercise and movement adventure resulted in the discovery of Isotonometrics. ISO blends two exercise functions: isotonics and isometrics …. ISO-T allows you to
select any intensity you prefer by one of many routes (without fussing with various bits of equipment) and
to enjoy max control of intensity,
practice heart training,
do strength work,
focus on stamina and last but hardly least,
gain skill while having fun!
“Isotonometrics”, then is Dr. Schwartz’ term for his method of “simultaneous” exercising of as much muscle as possible using only the resources of one’s own body without reference to equipment – even his own brainchild the “Heavyhands”!
Leonard Schwartz, Isotonometrics, Charles Atlas and Dynamic Tension
In a previous post on Isotonometrics, the question was asked: “So was this “isometrics”? Or “dynamic tension”? Or something else? That will be explored in a future article!” This is that article.
Dr. Schwartz’s extant writings interact from time to time with the systems advocated by other fitness experts who are mentioned by name, like Charles Atlas. He is always courteous but clear about how his viewpoint differs and what advantages he believes it to have.
So how did Leonard Schwartz see his work in relationship to Charles Atlas’ “dynamic tension” and “isometrics’? The answer is found in his patent filing on “Fitness Method” with some observations drawn from the Charles Atlas course itself.
Dr. Schwartz writes:
…the concept of dynamic tension or isometrics is well known, having been popularized by Charles Atlas many years ago. The concept of isometrics involves pitting one or more muscle groups against other muscle groups in a stationary fashion. Typically, one hand of an exerciser is pushed against or pulled apart from the other hand with the other hand imparting an opposite and generally equal force. Neither hand nor the exerciser’s body is typically moved during the pushing or pulling of the hands.
One of the drawbacks to the system of isometrics is the inability to generate sufficiently large workloads to involve the circulation (heart rate especially) appreciably. For one thing, the duration of each isometric exercise is too brief; for another the muscle mass involved in the exercise was generally too small. Consequently, isometric exercise only provides strength improvement and does not contribute to endurance, flexibility, aerobic training or the like.
Technically, Charles Atlas’ “Dynamic Tension” and Dr. Schwartz’ “Isotonometrics” are not “isometric” because they are not static holds. Movement is involved in each. Schwartz is correct though in that most Dynamic Tension and Isometric exercises attempt to isolate relatively small muscle groups, though some isometric exercises like the Kiveloff protocol seek a simultaneous “whole body isometric”.
For that reason, Schwartz says his isotonometric method involves “isometric like” action, i.e. limb to limb force and resistance:
“[Isotonometrics is a] fitness method that combines isometric-like physical activity with isotonic physical activity to achieve both endurance and strength.”
The Charles Atlas course of exercises taught the development of the body’s various muscle groups by way of specialization and isolation. His exercises were varied. Some were “dynamic tension” with limb to limb resistance. Others were “isotonic” exercises… well known calisthenics like his pushup variation, deep knee bends, lunges and, even, running. In general, however, there was no emphasis on involving all the limbs or the majority of the body’s muscle groups at the same time. One exception to this is a modified “burpee” that is demonstrated by Atlas in Lesson 6, Exercise 2. From the squatting position, the legs are kicked back. It is not a commonly known burpee that usually starts and ends in the standing position and may include a pushup or many other variants. In general, however, Schwartz’ assessment of Atlas’ dynamic tension approach and isometrics in general was correct regarding the tendency toward isolating individual muscles and muscle groups.
Dr. Schwartz’ method of “Isotonometrics” in contrast seeks to involve as much muscle simultaneously as possible (a common feature of all his exercise recommendations). To involve as much upper body muscle as possible, he advocates a form of “dynamic tension” with broad movements with as much range and muscle involvement as possible for the upper body while activating the lower body with trunk bends, twists, knee bending, stepping, and lunging. He also envisioned arm to leg resistance exercises and leg to leg resistance exercises as part of his system.
Though Dr. Schwartz advocated innovation and flexibility in arm movements to avoid boredom, some of his “handclasps” and “handtrails” resemble the Atlas system. For example, in Lesson 1, Exercise 3, Mr. Atlas has an exercise that involves pulling on an imaginary rope from head to thigh. The motion of the downward hand activates the “latissiums dorsi” muscles among others which pull the arm down and backwards while the motion is resisted by the bottom hand which activates the biceps, frontal deltoid, and trapezius muscles which pull the arm upward. Obviously to exercise both sides of the body, the dominant hand must be changed half way through the chosen number of repetitions.
The “rope pulling” movement and several others in the same lesson are perfectly in line Schwartz “Isotonometrics”… the difference, however, is that in Schwartz’ method they would likely be performed at lower tension to accommodate higher repetitions and in conjunction with lower body movements or even dance like movements.
Schwartz’ Isotonometrics had several similarities to the Charles Atlas system while building on the results of modern understandings of training to produce cardiac and general muscular endurance. Both incorporated “dynamic tension” and “isotonic” (calisthenic) exercise though not technically “isometrics” in the form of the static holds studied, for instance, by the Max Planck Institute. Unlike Atlas, Schwartz consciously used predominantly upper body dynamic tension work to replace the use of hand weights for that purpose. Whether using weights or “dynamic tension”, the use of the upper body along with traditional lower limb cardio was to mimic the high oxygen processing of Nordic skiers while minimizing the stress and injury potential on any one body part.
There is a enough similarity in outward exercise forms between the two systems that a number of upper and lower body exercises from the Atlas course could conceivably be combined to form “whole body” movements. If those cojoined exercises were performed with a tension that allowed the activation of muscles for long enough time to create an aerobic effect, the untrained eye could not really tell the difference between the Atlas dynamic tension and isotonic moves combined and adapted for endurance training and the Schwartz Isotonometric moves.