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Top 28 Isometric Exercises And Their Benefits

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
Top 28 Isometric Exercises And Their Benefits November 15, 2017

Have you been yearning to get a slim and toned body? But are you someone who doesn’t like to workout? Then, I have great news for you. Today, I am going to tell you about an exercise that can tone your muscles without moving a muscle! This interesting form of training is known as Isometric Exercise and has gained much popularity in the recent times. It works on the principle that you can strengthen your muscles, shed fat, and get a toned body if you activate the muscle fibers in the problem area. So, skip the crazy cardio or weight training sessions, and start doing these 28 isometric exercises to get a fabulous body. But first, let’s understand what we are getting into.

What Are Isometric Exercises?

Isometric exercises are done without changing the length of the muscles. These exercises work on the muscles in a static position and demand muscle tension without any actual movement. Primarily, there are three ways in which the muscles are worked – concentric, which involves contraction or shortening of muscles; eccentric, which involves lengthening of muscles; and isometric, where the muscles tighten without any alteration in length. Most of the core conditioning exercises, yoga postures, and even pilates exercises are isometric.

Now, let’s begin with the exercises, their benefits, and how to do them correctly.

Top 28 Isometric Exercises And Their Benefits

Isometric Exercises For The Abs

1. Plank

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Transversus abdominis muscle, gluteus minimus muscles, gluteus medius, adductor muscles of the hip, and obliques.

Starting Position

Get into the push-up position with your arms straight, abs tight, belly button sucked in, and body straight.

Steps To Do

  1. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Slowly get back to the starting position and repeat.
  3. Try increasing the holding time gradually.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not stress too much right in the beginning. Build your strength gradually.

 2. Forearm Plank

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Transversus abdominis muscle, gluteus minimus muscles, gluteus medius, adductor muscles of the hip, and obliques.

Starting Position

Start in the plank position with your body straight and abs tight.

Steps To Do

  1. Bend your arms. Lower your body, concentrating the weight on your forearms.
  2. Hold the pose for 10 seconds. Try to increase the holding time gradually.
  3. Slowly get back to the starting position and repeat.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not point your elbows outward or inward. Place them close your body.

3. Side Plank

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, quadratus lumborum. gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and adductors.

Starting Position

Get into the plank position with all the muscles tensed.

Steps To Do

  1. Shift your weight slowly to your right side and balance with one hand and foot on the ground.
  2. Extend your left hand straight into the air and put your left foot over the right one.
  3. Hold the pose for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Slowly get back to the starting position and repeat.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

If extending your hand makes you unstable, keep your hand on your waist as you do the plank.

4. Isometric Push-up

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Abs, middle and lower back, triceps, and chest.

Starting Position

To begin with, one must assume the normal push-up position and balance the body on the knees and palms.

Steps To Do

Slowly raise the body upwards, holding it for one second before coming down.

This may sound easy, but it might be challenging to hold the position when the weight of the entire body falls on the palms and the knees.

Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not stress too much right in the beginning. Build your strength gradually.

 5. Isometric Low Plank

Image: Shutterstock

The isometric low plank is a combination of the plank and the push-up. This is a great exercise for those who want to build core strength and get toned arms, a flat tummy, and well-shaped shoulders.

Target

Abs, middle and lower back, biceps, triceps, and glutes.

Starting Position

Assume the push-up position.

Steps To Do

  1. Lower your body. Bend your elbows, keep your head up, and chin straight.
  2. Slowly push your upper body up as you straighten your elbows and support your body weight with your arms, shoulders, and palms.
  3. Hold it for 5 seconds.
  4. Lower your body and hold for 5 seconds.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure your body is well supported by your toes and your elbows.

Isometric Exercises For The Shoulders

6. Hanging

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Shoulders, lats, upper abs, obliques, biceps, and triceps.

Starting Position

Grab a pull-up bar or any other bar type surface from which you can properly hang.

Steps To Do

  1. Hold the bar with your hand and hang.
  2. Hang there for 10-15 seconds and then come down.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

It may seem a little tough for beginners. So, try doing 2 reps initially, and then gradually increase the reps and sets.

 7. Shoulder Raise

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Anterior deltoid, trapezius muscles, lats, and the supraspinatus.

Starting Position

Hold the dumbbells, one in each hand, and look straight ahead.

Steps To Do

  1. Do not bend your elbows. Raise your shoulders and hold for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Bring your hands down and relax.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Avoid doing this exercise if you have a previous shoulder injury.

8. Shoulder Extension

Target

Deltoids, lats, and triceps.

Starting Position

Stand straight with the support of a wall.

Steps To Do

  1. Straighten your elbows while stretching your shoulders.
  2. Hold for 5 seconds and release.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Keep your back straight while doing this exercise.

9. Isometric Shoulder Press

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Rotor cuffs, lats, triceps, and biceps.

Starting Position

Hold 2­-pound dumbbells in your hands and lift them till the shoulder level. Flex your elbows so that your forearms and upper arms are at 90 degrees with each other.

Steps To Do

  1. Start pressing one arm by steadily extending your arm and then bring it back to the starting position. The other arm will remain static.
  2. Do the same with the other arm.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete one set on each arm.

Precaution

Maintain the 90-degree angle.

10. Isometric Shoulder Internal Rotation

Image: Youtube

Target

Shoulders, back, forearms, and upper arms.

Starting Position

Stand upright with your elbow flexed at 90 degrees. Place a folded towel between your arm and the wall.

Steps To Do

  1. Push your arm into the wall as if you are rotating your forearm outward, keeping your elbow tucked to your side.
  2. Relax and repeat.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure to keep your back straight during the exercise.

Isometric Exercises For The Back

11.  Warrior III

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Lats, shoulders, obliques, biceps, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Starting Position

Start in Tadasana and slowly shift your weight to your right leg.

Steps To Do

  1. Start lifting the left leg slowly, bending forward at the same time.
  2. Keep your back erect and spine straight the entire time.
  3. Bend forward and lift your leg until your spine and the lifted leg are aligned in a straight, horizontal line.
  4. Keep that balance and hold the pose for 10 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg. Repeat the pose with the other leg.

Repetitions

3 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Take the support of a wall initially if you find it difficult to balance your body.

12.  The Bridge

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Gluteus maximus, obliques, erector spinae, gluteus maximus, rectus abdominis, and obliques.

Starting Position

Lie down on your back on the floor. Flex your knees, keep your hands on the sides, and feet and palms flat on the ground.

Steps To Do

  1. Support your body on your feet on and palms and gently thrust your hip upwards.
  2. Hold this position for 10 seconds before lowering your body back to the starting position.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Keep your head and neck straight. Look up at the ceiling while doing this exercise.

13.  Back Stretch

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Lats, obliques, chest, upper abs, shoulders, and neck.

Starting Position

Stand straight. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and hands by your side.

Steps To Do

  1. Hold your arms out and interlock your hands.
  2. Pull your shoulders back so that your chest pops out and your feel the stretch just below your shoulders.
  3. Flex your elbows and bring your interlocked hands close to your navel.
  4. Push your shoulders back and feel the middle back muscles contract. Hold it for 2 seconds and release.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Exhale as you pull your shoulders back.

15.  Towel Row

Image: Youtube

Target

Rhomboids, glutes, lats, shoulders, and biceps.

Starting Position

Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Hold the ends of a towel in your hands. Flex one knee and put it over the towel.

Steps To Do

  1. Raise your arms towards your shoulders as much as possible so that you can feel the stretch in your back, arms, and glutes.
  2. Hold it for 30 seconds before releasing and reverting to the starting position.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Sit straight while doing this exercise.

Isometric Exercises For The Legs

16.  Wall Sit

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Hamstrings, quads, calves, and lower back.

Starting Position

Stand with your back against a wall.

Steps To Do

  1. Flex your knees and lower your body as you would while squatting.
  2. Hold the position for 5-7 seconds and release.
  3. Repeat this 10 times. Increase the hold time gradually.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure you keep your back against the wall at all times.

 17.  Isometric Quads

Image: Youtube

Target

Quadriceps or the front of your thighs.

Starting Position

Lie down flat on your back. Keep one leg straight and one knee flexed, and the foot flat on the ground. Keep a rolled towel or a cushion underneath your straight leg’s knee.

Steps To Do

  1. Once you rest your knee, raise it to form a bend and hold for 5 seconds.
  2. Rest it back on the cushion and repeat the procedure with the other knee.
  3. Do this for each knee with at least 15 repetitions each.

Repetitions

15 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Lie down on a flat and sturdy surface.

18.  Ankle Press

Target

Peroneal muscles and calves.

Starting Position

Lie down on your back and hold a pillow between your ankles.

Steps To Do

  1. Press the pillow as hard as you can till you touch the other ankle.
  2. Hold it for 10 seconds.

Repetitions

15 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not use a hard object as you may hurt your ankle.

19.  Weighted Calf Raises

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Calves, glutes, and arms.

Starting Position

Stand straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side with the arms straight.

Steps To Do

  1. Raise your heels off the floor and balance yourself on the balls of your feet.
  2. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Another version is to continue doing calf raises while holding the weight in your hands.

Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Use weights that are not too light or too heavy.

 20. Isometric Knee Exercise

Image: Youtube

Target

Knees, quads, hamstrings, adductors, and calves.

Starting Position

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.

Steps To Do

  1. Keep one leg straight and flex the other knee. Keep the foot flat on the floor.
  2. Place a rolled towel underneath your straight leg’s knee.
  3. Push your knee down as hard as you can. This will work on your quads.
  4. Hold it for 3 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.
  5. Flex your straight leg and push your heel down to the ground.
  6. Hold it for 3 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.
  7. Now, keep both your feet flat on the ground and the knees flexed.
  8. Use a belt (not a resistance band) and tie it around your thighs.
  9. Push both your legs out. Hold for 3 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.
  10. Grab a medicine ball and hold it between your knees.
  11. Squeeze in your legs so that you feel the burn in your inner thighs.
  12. Hold it for 3 seconds, relax, and repeat.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

If you do not have a medicine ball or a towel, use a pillow to do the exercises.

 21.  Static Lunge

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Quads, hamstrings. lower back, and glutes.

Starting Position

Stand with all the muscles in your body tensed, your core tight, and shoulders back.

Steps To Do

  1. Split and take your left leg back in a lunge.
  2. 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.
  3. Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  4. To intensify the exercise, grab a heavy dumbbell in each hand.

Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not try to overtrain. You must build the strength gradually to avoid injuries.

22.  Squat Hold

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Adductors, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and lower back.

Starting Position

Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart.

Steps To Do

  1. For a mid-squat hold, lower yourself into a squat and stop when you reach about the middle of your length as if you are sitting on a chair. Hold yourself in the pose for 10 seconds.
  2. For a 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.

Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

When you squat, make sure your back is straight and your knees do not overshoot your feet.

Isometric Exercises For The Arms

23.  Wall Push-up

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Biceps, triceps, shoulders, lats, and chest.

Starting Position

Place your hands on the wall, shoulder-width apart.

Steps To Do

  1. Lean on the wall, supporting your body on your toes, and keep your palms on the wall.
  2. Push as hard as you can.
  3. Keep pushing with the same force for 15 seconds. Relax.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Keep your back straight while doing this exercise.

 24.  Isometric Towel Curls

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Biceps

Starting Position

Take a long towel and hold both its ends in your hands. Hold the lower portion of the towel with one of your feet.

Steps To Do

  1. Try pulling up the towel. You will feel the stretch in your arms.
  2. Hold it for 3 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.

Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Keep your back straight and flex your knees slightly while doing this exercise.

 25.  Body Weight Resisted Tricep Push Extensions

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Triceps

Starting Position

Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your hands above your head and clasp them together.

Steps To Do

  1. Raise your right arm and bend your left arm slightly to resist the right arm.
  2. Squeeze hard to feel the stretch in your triceps.
  3. Hold it for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.
  4. Do it with the other hand.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete one set.

Precaution

Keep your shoulders relaxed and core engaged while doing this exercise.

 26.  Barbell Isometric Curls

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Forearms, biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Starting Position

Hold a barbell. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged.

Steps To Do

  1. Lift the barbell till your hands reach your shoulders.
  2. Hold this position for 20 seconds and feel the contraction.
  3. Relax and lower the barbell to the starting position.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure to use weights that are neither too heavy nor too light.

Isometric Exercises For The Neck

27.  Neck Stretch

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Neck muscles

Starting Position

Place both your palms on your forehead and stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.

Steps To Do

  1. Push your forehead towards your palms and use them to resist that force. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions.
  2. Put your hands behind your head. Push your head towards your hands and vice versa. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions.
  3. Put your right hand on the right side of your head. Push your head towards your hand and vice versa. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions. Do it for the left side as well.
  4. Put your right palm on the sides of your cheeks. Push your hands inwards and use your face to resist that force. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions. Do it for the left side as well.

Repetitions

3 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Avoid hurting yourself by pressing your head too hard.

Isometric Exercise For The Glutes

 28. Hip Adduction

Image: Youtube

Target

Glutes, adductors, and lower back.

Starting Position

Lie down on your back, flex your knees, and keep your feet flat on the ground.

Steps To Do

  1. Hold a pillow with your thighs.
  2. Press it as hard as possible, ensuring the pressure from both the sides is at the same time.
  3. Release your thighs without letting the pillow fall. During the course of pressing and releasing, your breathing must be evenly controlled.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Lie down on a completely flat and sturdy surface.

 Isometric Exercise For The Chest

 29.  Chest Squeeze

Image: Shutterstock

Target

Pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles.

Starting Position

Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart.

Steps To Do

  1. Put your palms together and press them. Hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Lift your right leg and balance. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Lower your right leg and lift your left leg. Hold for 10 seconds.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Keep your back straight while doing this exercise.

Benefits Of Isometric Exercises

Practicing isometric exercises offers various benefits to your body. They are:

  • Isometric exercises help in strengthening and conditioning the muscles.
  • They strengthen the dormant muscle tissues on isolated muscles.
  • They improve one’s control over the body.
  • Improve body posture and spine alignment.
  • Help prevent 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.
  • They can be done anywhere and anytime.
  • Most isometric exercises do not require any equipment, or at the most, a set of dumbbells is enough.
  • Help in graceful aging, keeping the body posture straight and erect even in old age.
  • These exercises can also be done by the elderly and are considered good for them.

Tips

  • Studies show that isometric exercises decrease muscle elasticity and speed of movement. But actually, it happens only when you do excessive isometric exercises without doing other forms of exercises required by the body.
  • Isometric exercises should not be practiced in isolation. It is more effective to include isometrics with HIIT. A combination of isotonic and isometric exercises works good as well.

Isometrics are great for strengthening your muscles and building those lean, killer abs. 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 it. But remember that though isometrics are good for our body, they must never replace the other forms of exercises. Talk to your trainer on how you can incorporate isometric exercises in your workout routine.

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.
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