So many workout programs and products can be found on the market today that it's hard to believe whether any of them are as effective as they claim to be. A case in point is the Bullworker line of bows and extensions that are touted for giving you a great isometric workout.
So what does sports science say about the claims behind exercising with Bullworker? To understand how this equipment trains your body, you need to understand isometric exercise. As Bullworker claims, its classic bow can be used for isometric holds that build strength faster than lifting weights. "Isometrics are the fastest way to build strength," the website claims.
While isometric exercise has its benefits, it's not necessarily better than exercise that takes you through a full range of motion.
Bullworker equipment can be used as part of your workout routine, but it's not as effective as other forms of strength training.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of Isometric Exercise?
What Is Isometric Exercise?
Mayo Clinic explains that isometric exercise is where you engage your muscles in a static position, so there's a contraction of a particular muscle but there's not movement where the angle of the joints change or any muscles lengthen or shorten.
Think of planks or wall sits — you engage the muscles by staying in place rather than moving. This helps maintain and build strength, but it's not the most effective method, because isometric exercises make you stronger only when you're in that position.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) agrees, stating that just because isometric exercises can make you uncomfortable, that doesn't necessarily mean they're good. There's less blood flow and more waste accumulation in your muscles when you do isometric exercises, so you feel the burn, but because there's less work being done, you aren't using as many calories or building as much strength.
Finally, Harvard Health Publishing notes that isometric exercises might not be ideal for people with heart problems, and physicians once discouraged people with cardiovascular disease from doing isometric exercises because they increase your blood pressure.
How Can Bullworker Be Effective?
Don't think this means you can't reap benefits from Bullworker equipment. As ACE states, isometric exercises help you build stability and bodily control that will help you when you are moving.
Mayo Clinic adds that isometric exercises can be good for people who are injured and suffer pain when they're trying to move their muscles or joints. For example, Mayo Clinic cites that people who injure their rotator cuff might be recommended isometric exercises by their doctor or physical therapist to engage specific muscles. Additionally, those who suffer from arthritis and have limited range of movement can enjoy a pain-free workout with isometric exercises.
ACE acknowledges that isometric holds are part of the repetitive movement you need for building strength. The other two parts of the repetition, ACE states, are eccentric exercise, where the muscle is lengthened, and concentric exercise, where the muscle is shortened.
A faster weightlifting tempo — where the lengthening (eccentric), hold (isometric) and shortening (concentric) are all quick and fairly equal in time — is better for building strength.
A slower tempo — where the lengthening (eccentric) and shortening (concentric) are slightly longer but the hold (isometric) is still short is better for hypertrophy, or building muscle volume, because the extended period of tension the muscle is put under creates the stimulus that the muscle needs for growth.
- Bullworker: “Steel Bow”
- Mayo Clinic: “Are Isometric Exercises a Good Way to Build Strength?”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Are Isometric Exercises Safe for the Heart?”
- American Council on Exercise: “The Two Fitness Myths You Still Believe Are True”
- American Council on Exercise: “Weight Lifting Temp and Amp”