Are you one of those who could get through the toughest of cardio sessions but start quaking all over while holding a squat for more than 15 seconds? Then you know isometric exercises are the real deal and nothing about them is easy. Today, isometric exercises are gaining popularity in the fitness world again. So first let’s know what is isometric exercise?
What Are Isometric Exercises?
Isometric exercises are those exercises, which are performed without changing the length of muscles. These exercises work on muscles in a static position and require us to tense the muscles without any actual movement. There are 3 main ways in which muscles are worked – concentric, which involves contraction or shortening of muscles; eccentric, which involves lengthening of muscles; and isometric, where muscles tighten without any alteration in the length. Most of the core conditioning exercises, yoga postures and even pilates exercises are isometric in nature.
Top 19 Isometric Exercises And Their Benefits:
So here are few exercises which can help one achieve a mounting muscular body:
Plank is one of the most popular and effective exercises ever. It works for your whole body, but specifically targets your core and arms.
- Get in the push-up position with your arms straight and abs tight, bellybutton sucked in and body in a line.
- Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds and try increasing the holding time gradually.
2. Forearm Plank:
Forearm Plank, also known as Dolphin pose in Yoga, is great for shoulders, arm muscles and core.
- Start in the plank with your body straight and abs tight.
- Bend your arms and lower your weight on your forearms.
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds and gradually try to increase the holding time.
3. Side Plank:
One of the best exercises for oblique, abs, arms and muffintops, side plank is another variation of plank that requires you to hold the pose for strengthening the targeted muscles.
- Get into the plank position with all the muscles tensed.
- Now slowly shift your weight on your right side and balance with one hand and foot on the ground.
- Extend your left hand straight into the air and put your left foot over the right one.
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
4. Isometric Push up:
The exercise here focuses on the muscles of the arms. To begin with, one must take the normal push up position and balance the body on the knees and palms. Then slowly raise the body upwards holding it for 10 seconds, before coming down. This may sound easy but the entire body pressure once fallen on the palms and knees may quite be challenging to hold.
5. Isometric Low Blank:
An isometric low plank is a combination of the plank and push up together. Just that the plank here will require the support of palms, and in the push up position, one should hold their body for 10 seconds. The only thing to be taken care is not once can one touch the floor till completing the count of 10.
[ Read: Best Aerobic Exercise Videos ]
6. Shoulder Extension:
The shoulder extension is quite a firm way of giving the muscles of your upper back a good stretch. It isn’t the extensive stretching, but needs you to just stand straight with the support of a wall. As you stand erect, just straighten your elbows while stretching your shoulders ahead. This will pull the muscles in the core area, initially painful but will gradually be a boon.
7. Wall Sit:
A wall-sit can explain you the task a mime artist goes through when he performs this. The exercise is all about giving your back and thigh muscles some endurance and power. The exercise needs you to position yourself in the sitting posture with the support of the wall. It may be a tough task in the beginning, but start with a count of 10 seconds and thereby keep increasing the time limit every week.
8. Neck Stretch:
The isometric neck stretches is one of the best ways to give your neck muscles the exercise they need. One can perform these exercises at home, office or even when out in a public place. They build the endurance power and create flexibility in the neck muscles. As much as one ignores the neck region, these isometric neck exercises have a great deal of importance is over all health!
[ Read: Medicine Ball Workout ]
9. Chest Squeeze:
The chest squeeze is a form of chest exercise, where you contract and expand the muscles of the chest. The isometric chest exercises must be performed only with a recommendation of a physician.
10. Hip Adduction:
The hip adduction will require a pillow to start with between your thighs as you lay. All you need to do is press the pillow as hard as possible between your thighs; ensuring pressure from both sides is at the same time. Then release your thighs without letting the pillow fall. During the course of pressing and releasing, breathing must be evenly controlled.
[ Read: Exercises During Pregnancy ]
11. Isometric Quads:
Isometric quads are quite a refreshing form of exercise derived by the new age physicians. To perform this exercise, you should keep a cushion or towel roll below your knee. Once you rest your knee, raise it upwards to form a bend and hold for 5 seconds. Once done, rest it back on the cushion and repeat the same procedure with the other knee. Perform this for each knee with at least 15 repetitions each.
12. Ankle Press:
Place a pillow between your ankles and press it as hard as you can till you touch the other ankle. Do these with a repetition of 15 everyday, till you feel the stretching and pressing has improved the elasticity of your ankle muscles.
13. Static Lunge:
A great exercise for your lower body that requires you to shake your legs for about 15 seconds! It specifically targets quads, glutes, saddlebags and hips. It also works on the core at the same time.
- Stand with all the muscles in your body tensed your core tight, and shoulders back.
- Split and take your left leg back in a lunge.
- Lower yourself into as deep a lunge as you can without touching your bent knee to the ground. Ideally lower yourself until you are just inches above the ground.
- Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- To intensify the exercise, grab a heavy dumbbell in each hand.
14. Squat Hold:
Another great lower body exercise, which works amazingly on your thighs. Holding squat has two variations – Mid-Squat Hold and Deep Squat Hold.
- For mid-squat hold, lower yourself into squat and stop when you reach about the middle of your length. It is like you are sitting on a chair. Hold yourself in the pose for 10 seconds.
- For deep squat, lower yourself into a complete squat to the ground with your knees up to your chest and your butt inches off the floor. Hold the pose for 15 seconds.
15. Warrior III:
Warrior III pose is also called Virbhadrasana III. It is a balance pose in yoga and targets the back, shoulders, arms, glutes, and legs.
- Start in Tadasana and slowly shift your weight to your right leg.
- Now slowly start lifting the left leg and bending forward at the same time.
- Keep your back erect and spine straight the whole time.
- Bend forward and lift your leg until your spine and lifted leg are aligned in a straight horizontal line.
- Now, keep that balance and hold the pose for 10 seconds.
- Slowly lower and then repeat the pose with the other leg.
16. Wall Push-up:
Remember those physics force-motion lessons? It used to tell us that if you push on a wall with force, there is no motion and therefore no work done. Well, actually work is done, just not on the wall but on your muscles! Wall Pushing is a great isometric exercise for your upper body.
- Put your hands on the wall shoulder width apart.
- Now lean on the wall and push as hard as you can.
- Keep pushing with the same force for 15 seconds. Then relax.
Pull-ups are one of those monster exercises that we always dread but are super effective. When we do pull-ups, our arm muscles contract and expand. The isometric version of this exercise involves only hanging from that pull-up bar without any other movement.
- Grab a pull-up bar or any other bar type surface from which you can properly hang.
- Hold your weight with your hand and hang.
- Hang there for 10-15 seconds. Then come down.
- This exercise stretches and lengthens the muscles while strengthening them.
18. Shoulder Raise:
Shoulder is amazing isometric exercises that’ll make your arms feel like jelly-O! This exercise requires a set of heavy weight dumbbells.
- Lift the dumbbells one in each hand straight overhead.
- Do not bend your elbows and hold the raise for 10-15 seconds.
- Now bring down and relax.
19. Weighted Calf Raises:
This exercise has two versions – isometric raise hold and isometric-isotonic combination. It targets the calves, glutes, and arms.
- Grab some heavy weights like 12 pounds or so, whatever is heavy for you.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side with hands straight.
- Now raise your heels off the floor and balance on the balls of your feet.
- Hold the raise for 10 seconds.
- Another version will be to continue doing calf raises, while holding the weight in your hands.
Benefits Of Isometric Excercises:
Practicing isometric excercises offers various benefits to our body and they are:
- Isometric exercises help in strengthening and conditioning muscles.
- They aid in strengthening dormant muscle tissues on isolated muscles.
- They improve one’s control over the body.
- Improve body posture and spine alignment.
- Help in preventing injury.
- These exercises are used in injury rehabilitation.
- Help in the development of lean muscles.
- Improve bone density and make them strong.
- Increase resistance power and endurance ability.
- These exercises activate all the major units in the body.
- These exercises can be done anywhere and anytime.
- Most isometric exercises do not require any equipment, or at most a set of dumbbells is enough.
- Help in graceful aging, keeping body posture straight and erect even in the old age.
- These exercises can also be done by elderly people and are considered good for them.
Studies show that isometric exercises decrease muscle elasticity and speed of movement. But actually it happens only when you do excessive isometric exercises without other forms of exercises required by the body.
Isometric exercises should not be practiced in isolation. It is more effective to include isometrics with your HIITs. Combination of isotonic and isometric exercises works good as well.
Isometrics are great for strengthening your muscles and building those lean killers. It is a good idea to spread isometrics throughout your workout in between exercises. Isometrics can also be done throughout the day whenever you feel like. But remember that though isometrics are good for our body, but they must never replace the other forms of exercises. Talk to your trainer on how you can incorporate isometric exercises in your workout routine!
Does your workout routine include isometrics? Which one do you think is the toughest? Share with us.
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