So you want to get into Isometrics but didn’t like the look of the $400 price tag on the Isochain…
Well today we’re going to take a look at 5 of the top alternatives that won’t break the bank.
No, they’re certainly not quite as effective as the Isochain, but they definitely do still work!
1. Isochain Stand-Alone Handle + Chain DIY
If $450 was too much for your liking but you still have a bit of a budget to work with, you can purchase an individual Isochain stand-alone handle for $300 (save $30 when you use discount code A1ATHLETE).
You’ll also need to get a chain capable of withstanding 1,000lbs of load and a few other bits and pieces (hook and block of wood) from a hardware store.
For about $330 you can put together your own DIY Isochain – that’s a solid saving compared to the price of the regular unit!
Chris of NoLimitSquad put together a great instructional video on how to put together your own OG Isochain, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested in doing this DIY project.
Personally, I’d be a little concerned about safety with such a ghetto setup but if it worked well for Chris, it’ll work well for almost anyone!
$280 is a much easier pill to swallow than $500 so this is definitely going to be a decent middle-ground.
2. Bullworker Bow Classic & Steel Bow
The second best piece of equipment for isometric training is known as the Bullworker Bow Classic which is similar to the Isochain, yet only costs half the price.
For $200 you can get a pretty solid upper body isometric workout in using this thing.
While there are a few leg exercises you can do with it, the Bullworker is known for being pretty useless when it comes to leg workouts as well as heavy back training.
However it does have its advantages over the Isochain, as you can definitely get a better chest workout using the Bullworker.
One of the main things we’re looking for in Isochain alternatives is the ‘stretch reflex’ which is a mechanism that allows us to override our brain’s natural tendency to avoid exerting maximum force output on an immovable object (for self preservation).
The Bullworker has plenty of stretch reflex which is why it’s a pretty decent overall way to get your isometrics in.
The major issue with the Bullworker, and why it pales in comparison to the Isochain, is the lack of measurability.
While it does have a sliding measurement scale on the side of the device that gives you a rough idea of how you’re doing, it’s not entirely accurate and is certainly no where near as effective as the Isochain’s force output display.
In addition to the Classic Bow there’s also the Steel Bow which is a smaller, more portable version of the original device.
The Classic Bow is better for certain exercises and offers more resistance and a larger range of motion, whereas the Steel Bow allows you to get deeper contractions on certain exercises.
Think of the pair as a barbell and a dumbbell.
The Bullworker has been around for 60+ years at this stage and is a tried and true product that definitely gets results.
No it’s unequivocally not as good as the Isochain, but it’s definitely the best option at the $250 price point!
3. WorldFit ISO Trainer
If you’re looking for a much cheaper alternative, the ISO Trainer costs only $40 and allows you to perform quite a decent range of isometric exercises.
This device is effectively nothing more than a pair of quality handles attached to a strap, but that’s all you need to get a fairly effective isometric workout in.
There’s a fairly decent range of exercises you can do with the ISO Trainer, although it’s not quite as versatile as the Isochain.
However, at less than 10% of the cost of an Isochain, the WorldFit ISO Trainer gets you plenty of isometric training for your dollar, to the point where I think this kit is a superior overall choice for people just starting out with isometrics or for anyone only doing them occasionally.
There’s absolutely nothing in terms of measurability with this strap however, which will make it virtually impossible for you to see gains.
If you’re only doing isometric training using the ISO Trainer, you’ll likely end up quitting because there’s absolutely no way to gauge your progress.
That’s why I recommend the ISO Trainer in addition to some other form of exercise such as free weights.
4. Bar & Chain/DIY Isochain
If you wanted to get super old school and fancy yourself a bit of a DIY project, you could build your own Isochain and save yourself close to $400!
The legend Hampton from Hybrid Calisthenics has put together an awesome DIY Isochain video that’ll guide you through the entire project.
Personally, I’m not a fan of DIY stuff and so I have zero interest in doing something like this, but I know some people actually enjoy this sort of thing and it’s a great way to save some big cash!
Of course the final product doesn’t have any form of measurability so again you’ll struggle to track your progress using this device and it therefore should be used in addition to other forms of resistance training.
But at least this one has a decent loading reflex with the heavy duty spring, so you’ll be able to do some serious work with this bit of equipment!
The other option is to go for the “OG Isochain” which is an even more bare bones version of the above.
This one will cost you about $50 in total and is even easier to put together.
Check out Chris’s video where he runs through the build process.
5. Low Tech Isometrics
There are a couple other forms of isometric training you could think about if you’re looking to get started but don’t want to dump a ton of time and money into DIY projects…
Static State Training
This type of isometric training involves resisting against and immovable load.
My favorite example of this is to use a power rack and push/pull against the pins.
As you can see, pressing a barbell up against the pins in a rack gives you a very similar amount of resistance compared to the Isochain’s overhead press.
It’s not quite as useful however as the loading reflex is very minimal, which means we’re going to struggle to generate maximum power output with this method.
You could also pull against the pins as a deadlift or bicep curl.
If you’ve already got a power rack, this can be a fairly decent workout!
Self Resistance Training
You can also go super simplistic and use your own body for resistance…
The easiest example of this kind of training is to press your hands together as hard as you can out in front of your chest – this replicates a pec deck type exercise and allows you to generate quite a substantial amount of force.
You can also hold two ends of a towel out in front of your chest and try to pull it apart – this is going work your shoulders.
If you’re happy to spend $20, grab yourself a pair of Bullworker Iso-Bows which enable you to do a whole host of self resistance exercises.
One of the final forms of isometric training is known as loadless training which, in its simplest form, is just flexing.
Ever wondered why bodybuilders stand in the mirror posing so much?
Most likely they just like staring at themselves, but you can also get a pretty effective workout in just by tensing your muscles for long enough!
The best thing about this form of isometric is that it can be done virtually anywhere at any time.
You can tense while you’re cooking food, in line at the grocery store, or on the toilet!
Why The Isochain Is Superior
There’s two primary reasons why the Isochain reigns supreme over each of these alternatives: loading reflex and measurability.
The loading reflex produced by the heavy duty spring on the Isochain allows us to reduce cortical inhibition enabling massive force outputs.
Pushing against yourself, up against a wall, or up against the pins in a power rack makes it very difficult for this process to take place.
The Isochain also allows us to measure our outputs which enables detailed progress tracking and that allows us to see our gains very clearly, further motivating us to continue training.
None of these alternatives offer much (or anything) in the way of measurability and it’s that very reason the Isochain is truly head and shoulders above anything else on the market!
I’ve managed to negotiate an exclusive 10% Isochain discount for Jump Stronger readers – allowing you to save $45 on your Isochain.
Click the link below and remember to use code “A1ATHLETE” at checkout to get your discounted Isochain!