6 Simple Isometric Exercises Your Body Deserves

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Isometrics had their hey-day in the 1970’s. That’s when pieces of equipment like The Bull-Worker were all the rage. But then, along came the gym movement and, suddenly, isometrics exercises were old hat. It was now all about exercising a muscle through it’s full range of motion. But have we thrown out the baby with the bath-water when it comes to static contraction training?

Maybe so.

Although, isometric exercises limit the exerciser to a single joint and muscle length, they do have some very real benefits that can translate to a fitter, stronger, leaner body.

What is isometric exercise?

Isometrics exercises are done without changing the length of the working muscle. In other words, you stay in a static position during the entire working set. Because your body is contracting against an immovable object ( the wall, the floor, etc), The muscles tenses, but it does not change length. The opposite to isometric exercise is isotonic contraction, which occurs when you shorten the distance between two joints, such as when you do a barbell curl.

Isometric Benefits

  • You can do it anywhere, anytime – without equipment
  • Nearly 100% of motor units in the muscle fiber are activated (something which does not happen with concentric movements)
  • Strengthens and conditions the working muscle
  • Improves posture and spinal alignment

Incorporating Isometrics

Isometrics are not meant to be your sole form of exercise. By combining them intelligently with isotonic exercises, however, you will be able to supercharge your exercise and strength gains to unheard of heights.

The following 6 Isometric exercises will allow you to put the power of static contraction to work for you:

5 Examples of Isometric Exercises:

 

1. The Plank

the plank

Lie face down on the floor and prop yourself up on your elbows so that your body is supported only by the balls of your feet, elbows and forearms. Keep your back straight in one solid line. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

 


2. Wall Sits

Sit with your back against a wall, just as if you were sitting in a chair. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with your legs at right angles and thighs parallel to the ground. Spread your arms out along the wall at shoulder height. Hold this position for a set time.

Sets and Reps: Start with a 30-second hold and aim to extend to between 2-3 minutes.


3. Isometric Push-Ups

Set yourself on the ground, face down with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Your feet should be touching. Keeping your body in a straight line, rise up so that your arms are fully extended. Tense your buttocks and tighten your abs to prevent your butt from lifting you into a ‘v’ position. Look straight ahead rather than down. Now steadily lower yourself into a halfway position, so that your upper arms are at a 45 degree angle.

Sets and Reps: Start with a 15-second hold and aim to extend to between 1-2 minutes.


4. Pull Up Static Hold

Position yourself in front of a pull up bar. Reach up and grab the bar with a close underhand grip. Cross over your ankles and pull yourself up so that your chin rises above the bar. Squeeze your biceps tight and endeavor to hold that position for as long as possible.

Sets and Reps: Try to hold for 20 seconds and extend until you can achieve the hold for a full minute.


Wall pushup

5. Wall Push Ups

Assume a push up position while standing against a wall, with your palms on the wall at shoulder height. With your back arched, bend your arms to move your chest towards the wall. In the fully contracted position, try to push through the wall while endeavoring to touch the wall with your chest. Hold this position for 30 seconds, making sure to keep pushing into the wall throughout.

Sets and Reps: Hold for 30 seconds, relax for 30 seconds, then repeat twice.

 

 


6. Isotonic Exercise Sticking Point Statics

Most weight trainers eventually hit a sticking point with an exercise. Take the bench press. There’s usually a point – about three quarters of the way up – where the eight stutters and then stops. You can use isometrics to help you overcome this sticking point. Here’s how:

  1. Set up a pair of pins on a bench press machine at the height of your sticking point
  2. Place a heavy resistance on the bar
  3. Get into position and push against the resistance without lifting it off the pins. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat for 3 sets

Summary

Isometric exercises can benefit you, but not as a stand-alone workout. By intelligently incorporating specific static contraction moves into you isotonic routine, you’ll be able to get stronger quicker, while boosting your endurance, improving your posture and overcoming training sticking points.