Who knew that you could build strong, defined muscles from little to no movement. How? Isometric exercises (or holds) are very similar to compound exercises; in that they engage the core and a lot of muscles at one time. Not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s all you need to know:
What are Isometric exercises?
Isometric exercises are basically holding one position for a sustained period of time. For example: the Plank. The plank engages our core, deltoids, triceps, etc. You get the idea. The point is that this kind of training is often neglected, and in doing so you’re missing out on a list of benefits and a new way to train.
If you’ve ever seen a gymnast you would know that they’re in incredible shape. But how can this be when all they do is hand stands and somersaults? If you didn’t know already gymnasts actually spend quite a lot of time performing isometric exercises. Static holds that engage near enough every muscle in the body, and their appearance has something to show for it…
Fancy giving some a try? Check out my top 7 isometric exercises:
1. The Plank
Arguably the most known of the 7 is the plank. This simple exercise is often thrown into Ab routines as it engages EVERY abdominal muscle. Despite this, the plank still targets the front delts, and your quads. (which explains the burning sensation in the front of your legs).
How to perform the plank:
If the image above isn’t enough guidance, try placing your forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. It’s in the name ‘PLANK’ stay as straight as you can and you’ll smash it!
2. Wall Sit
Gains from sitting down? If only it was that easy. The wall sit is another popular position, and the chances are you’ve heard of it before. This position works the quadriceps on another level. Try to aim for at least 30 seconds on your first attempt, and progress from there. Is a weight needed? Of course not. Although this does offer an additional level of difficulty.
How to perform the wall sit:
It really is as simple as it looks. Lean against a wall as if you were to sit down. Align your knees with your hips (so that your legs are flat and not on an angle) and feel the burn!
3. The Chest Squeeze
This exercise is really simple, and a little different. Engaging the arms, shoulders and chest. Too easy? You can always add a little weight to further engage the muscles.
How to perform the chest squeeze:
Stand upright with both arms out in front of you, bent at a 90 degree angle. Lock your hands together and squeeze as hard as you can. Hold the contraction for 15-30 seconds then relax.
4. Isometric low push-up
Who doesn’t love a good push-up? Similar to the plank this exercise engages your core. The difference? This position puts emphasis on your triceps and front delts.
How to perform the isometric low push-up:
Just like a normal push up, arms shoulder width apart. Lower your self all the way down until you’re a few inches off the floor…And hold. Aim for at least 30 seconds and go from there.
5. Hanging Free
Who knew that just hanging there could have such a positive effect. After your pull-ups (or on a separate occasion all together) just keep a tight hold of the bar and hang… Engaging your upper body, this primarily focus’ on your grip strength. Give it a go! Aim for a minute.
How to perform the hang:
I couldn’t think of a more straight forward position if a tried. You just hang… On a serious note, find a bar, jump up and grab hold tight. Then let gravity do the rest.
6. Wide grip hold
A bit of a combination of the isometric push-up and the plank, this ones a little tricky. Engaging the core, shoulders, arms and chest you should defiantly give this one a try.
How to perform the wide grip hold:
Simply start in the raised plank position. (similar the first image, but palms on the floor instead of forearms) Then work your hands out as far as you can whilst still being able to hold yourself up. The wider you get, the stronger you are.
7. The L-Sit
The L sit is another great static exercise. This involves putting all of your weight through the palms of your hands and raising your legs out in front of you to form an L shape. This exercise works your arms, shoulders, core and quads.
How to perform the L-Sit:
First decide whether you’re going to use exercise bars, a bench or two chairs etc. Or nothing. Then simply place your palms on the ground (or equipment) and raise your legs out in front of you to from an L shape. You got this!
The benefits of isometric exercise
- Isometric exercises help to condition and strengthen the muscles
- Can improve posture
- Improve control over body
- Help to prevent injury
- Can be use to aid injury rehabilitation
- Muscular hypertrophy/build lean muscle
- Improve bone density
- Increase power and endurance
- Exercises are simple and can be done anywhere
In conclusion isometric exercises are a MUST within your routine. How often? That’s up to you. These simple positions allow for us to train different ways, building a strong core, improving balance, strength and appearance, along with many other benefits. What are you waiting for? Start pulling your weight.