Isometric exercises are an excellent way to trim the fat, tone up, and build muscle without the heavy impact of other strength training techniques. Isometrics are used often in yoga, hot yoga, and pilates. They tend to target the abdominal muscles in the core- the “powerhouse” for the rest of your body- but various exercises are also used to specifically workout and tone each of the body’s muscle groups.
A Unique Form of Exercising
Isometrics are unique because they do not use movements the way that most exercises do. Rather, they work by holding certain positions for a number of seconds. Although these exercises are static, the muscles are working hard to maintain the proper position and angle of the body. In other forms of exercise, the muscles either lengthen or contract, but in isometrics, the muscles stay the same length throughout the pose.
Isometrics provide all of the general benefits of working out, such increase overall fitness and strength in the body as well as increasing mental health and a healthy lifestyle. Due to the endorphins released during exercise, an active lifestyle has been known to be helpful in fighting depression. The human body was made to be active, and muscles are designed to be worked and strengthened. Isometric exercises do this very effectively, while also providing some benefits that are unique.
Benefits of Isometric Exercises
A practical benefit of isometric workouts is that most of the exercises are done using only bodyweight, and therefore they require no special equipment. Many people prefer the freedom this gives them to exercise anywhere, with or without a gym membership. They also give a good workout in a short amount of time, so while you may not have the room in your schedule for a daily run or a trip to a workout facility, you can still work your muscles in a fifteen-minute routine in your living room.
Isometric Exercise Are Excellent After An Injury
Isometric exercises are more ideal for people who are healing from an injury, due to the minimal impact of the workouts. They are generally a gentler form of exercise while still challenging your muscles. The ability to target specific muscle groups is also helpful in the healing of injuries. If, for example, there is an injury to a joint, a doctor will likely recommend exercises which can strengthen the muscles around that joint without aggravating the injury. Many of these exercises are isometric.
Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally
Isometrics are also preferred by people who struggle with high blood pressure. They provide general fitness to lower blood pressure naturally without the risk of a spike in blood pressure which may occur in strenuous or high-impact activities.
Isometric Exercises Are An Excellent Addition To Any Routine
For someone who is already working out on a regular basis, isometrics are an excellent addition to your routine. If you are not someone who likes to workout or doesn’t live an active lifestyle, isometric exercises provide a low-stress and less intimidating place to start on your journey to getting fit. They bring fast results with little time and no equipment or financial investment needed. Suffice it to say, isometric exercises belong in your workout. If they are not already a part of your life, they should be!
Isometric Exercise Routine
Isometric exercises are for anyone. While they are best when performed with higher intensity exercises, they are great if you are recovering from an injury, short on time or in need of non-impact exercise, regardless of age. The elderly may also benefit from isometric exercises due to their non-impact style as well as the need to focus on the specific muscle you are working.
It is important to determine a routine that will be effective and do your best to be consistent by performing the routine, and variations of it, at least 2–3 times per week.
Create a Full-Body Workout or You Can Pin-Point Muscle Groups
Consider the different muscles that you need to strengthen. You can actually create a full-body workout using isometric exercises. It is important, like with all exercise routines, that you do not hold your breath, but rather breathe through the exercises, usually exhaling at the points of exertion.
Below is a great workout that includes both upper and lower body exercises. Try to get through the entire set 2–3 times.
Upper Body Isometric Exercises
Ball Squeeze: Using a medicine ball, hold in front of you using both hands. Squeeze the ball as hard as you can holding the squeeze for 10–30 seconds. Release and repeat 5–10 times.
- Starting in the push-up position with arms fully extended, lower yourself to about halfway to the floor.
- Hold this position for 10–20 seconds remembering to breathe.
- Repeat 2–3 times.
- If needed, start on your knees (keep a straight line from your knees to the top of your head) and over time you will gain more strength and be able to do the push-ups on your toes.
- Start with your arms bent at 90 degrees and rest on your elbows directly below your shoulders.
- Hold the plank position for 10–30 seconds while engaging your core, hips, and butt.
- Repeat the exercise for 5–10 times.
- If needed, start on your knees and over time you will gain more strength and be able to do the planks on your toes.
Lower Body Isometric Exercises
- Place your back against a wall (or no wall) and lower yourself until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor.
- Extend your arms in front of you.
- Keep your upper body upright (do not lean over).
- The easiest way to think of the isometric squat is to sit in an imaginary chair, placing your weight on your heels.
- Hold for 10–20 seconds, engaging your abs, quads, and butt.
- Release. Repeat 10–20 times.
- Stand with legs staggered, right foot in front and spread far enough apart that you can lower yourself near the ground.
- Left knee is almost touching the ground and calf is parallel to the ground.
- Right quadriceps is parallel to the ground and your knee should not extend past your foot.
- If you need help with balance, place a sturdy chair next to you.
- Start in the standing staggered position and lower yourself to the ground with hips slightly tucked.
- Hold the position for 10–20 seconds while engaging the butt and right upper leg.
- Repeat 10–20 times on that side, then repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.
5. Hip Lifts
- Lie faceup on the floor.
- Knees are up and feet are on the ground hip-distance apart with your heels near your butt.
- Push your hips into the air and squeeze your butt as hard as you can while engaging your abs for 10–30 seconds.
- Want a little more resistance? Hold a weight on your abdominal and hip area.
- Release and repeat 10–20 times.
Potential Risks of Isometric Training
You should always consult your physician before starting any exercise program. Isometric exercise can cause the blood pressure to increase because when a muscle contracts, blood is forced out of the muscle tissue and into the bloodstream. Also, never hold your breath during exercise, as this can cause your blood pressure to increase.
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