Isokinetic exercise uses specialized workout equipment to maintain a constant speed during movements, regardless of the amount of force applied. Its purposes include rehabilitation, recovery, and testing muscle function.

Isokinetic exercise is a type of strength training often used for testing and rehabilitation. It uses specialized exercise machines that allow the muscle to work at maximum strength while maintaining a constant speed.

These machines help isolate and control the movement of the targeted muscle while regulating the pace of an exercise by fluctuating resistance throughout your range of motion.

You can adjust the speed and range of motion to suit your needs. Different attachments on the machines can also isolate and target specific muscle groups.

You can use isokinetic exercise to test and improve your muscular strength and endurance, typically under the guidance of a qualified professional.

Using a machine to control the speed also allows the muscles to contract at a steady rate, causing isokinetic contractions.

Isokinetic exercise and isotonic exercise are two techniques that can be used to strengthen the muscles.

Isokinetic — or “same speed” — exercise refers to movement at a constant speed regardless of the amount of resistance applied. Muscles contract at a constant speed in isokinetic contraction. This consistency allows muscles to gain strength uniformly all through the range of movement.

With isotonic — or “same tension” — exercise, you apply a consistent amount of tension to the muscles as they move through a full range of motion.

Most traditional strength training exercises are isotonic. For example, exercises such as dumbbell curls and squats isolate and place a consistent amount of tension on specific muscle groups to strengthen them throughout the range of movement.

Compared to isotonic exercise, isokinetic exercise is often considered less practical, as it requires special equipment. Plus, most isokinetic machines are designed to isolate movement to a single joint, which might not be ideal for those hoping to increase overall strength or muscle mass.

For this reason, it is usually only done in controlled environments to evaluate muscle function in athletes or strengthen muscles during rehabilitation.

Physical therapists and occupational therapists often use Isokinetic exercises for rehabilitation and recovery since they are a controlled form of exercise.

These therapists may use isokinetic machines to help people recover from:

  • a stroke
  • an injury
  • a medical procedure

Some of the benefits of isokinetic exercise compared to other types of training may include:

  • resistance can be applied to the muscle throughout the entire range of motion
  • muscle injuries are less likely to occur
  • specialists can easily monitor and track progress

According to a 2017 study in 31 males, isokinetic exercise was more effective at improving functional performance than isotonic or isometric exercises, or exercises involving muscle contraction without moving the surrounding joints.

Furthermore, a study that included 60 football players found isokinetic exercise more effective than conventional exercise programs for improving muscle strength and reducing inflammation. Their results suggest it could also help prevent further injury.

There’s also evidence from a 2016 study that isokinetic muscle strengthening increases the effects of aerobic exercises in people with obesity.

As part of the study, isokinetic exercises were found to improve muscle strength, increase lean body mass, and reduce body fat. Those who participated in isokinetic training in addition to aerobic exercises showed greater improvements than those who did only aerobic training.

Additionally, similar to other types of strength training, isokinetic exercise can also increase:

  • muscle tone
  • strength
  • flexibility
  • balance
  • coordination

Strength training makes everyday activities easier to perform, and can increase your athletic performance. It may also enhance cognitive function and improve quality of life, especially for older adults.

In general, isokinetic exercise is considered safe and is associated with very few side effects.

Isokinetic exercise is also safe for people with injuries, as the controlled speed and resistance make it hard for you to push yourself beyond your limits.

In fact, according to one 2015 review, isokinetic exercise may be safer than other types of training during rehabilitation because the resistance mechanism of the machine disengages if you experience any pain or discomfort.

This means you’re also less likely to pull muscles or have complications from the exercises such as sore muscles.

However, it’s best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new training program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or injuries.

Isokinetic exercise requires you to use a special machine and should be done under the guidance of a physical therapist or other professional, especially if you’re just getting started.

Some of the machines are more complex, and you’ll need a skilled user to teach you how to use them. This person will also know how to do tests and measurements. Isokinetic exercise machines are found in sports science labs and rehabilitation centers.

Each attachment on an isokinetic has a specific purpose and can be used to tone or work specific areas of your body, such as the:

  • quadriceps or knee extensor muscles
  • hamstring muscles
  • abdominal muscles

The resistance can be customized and adjusted to suit your needs. This is useful if you’re rehabilitating from an injury.

A therapist should tailor your exercise program to your personal goals and needs. When you’re first getting started, you should begin with little to no resistance, and slowly build up your resistance and repetition count.

It’s important that you exercise safely to protect your body and follow recommendations from a medical professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist.

Be sure to balance strength training with exercises that promote heart health and flexibility.

Always start by warming up the body with dynamic stretches, jogging, or brisk walking. Then do some gentle stretches to loosen up your body.

Drink plenty of water and maintain proper hydration before, during, and after your workout. Take at least a few minutes to cool down after your workout. Doing gentle stretches will also help to prevent soreness and injuries.

Pay attention to your body, take your time, and breathe regularly.

Stop working out if you feel pain or discomfort, and always use proper form and alignment while completing the exercises to prevent injury.

Get plenty of rest and schedule days off from exercise, especially if you experience pain and fatigue.

Talk with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program. This is especially important if you’re healing from an injury or have any other medical concerns.

A doctor may advise you to do the exercises under the guidance of a qualified professional. You can combine this type of muscle training with aerobic and flexibility exercises.