To increase strength and overall muscular fitness, isometric exercises are a perfect compliment to strength and cardio training. Isometric exercises use less or no force, so they are easier on joints as they build the muscle and strength.
What Does Isometric Mean?
Isometric exercises are characterized by their lack of movement. These exercises are held in a specific position for enough time to fatigue muscles and strengthen them without repetitive movement. Some isometric exercises use body weight, while some use light dumbbells held at a position where muscles are contracted (called submaximal muscle action), or maximal muscle actions where you push against an object that cannot be moved.
On each repetition, change the angle that you are working so you work the muscles around the joint in different ways, and therefore, are increasing strength in more than just the one plane that you are working.
1. Plank Variety
A Plank is the modern quintessential isometric exercise. Use it to your advantage and work your core and shoulders at a number of angles. Get in push up position on your elbows or hands if your strength allows. Hold the plank, working up to one minute.
Open your body to face out, balancing on one elbow, directly under the shoulder, looking straight ahead in a side plank. Hold your body in a straight line with hips up. Hold the side plank, working up to one minute, then switch sides
2. Wall Squats
Find a flat wall and place your back against it, feet slightly farther than shoulder width apart. If one is available, place a large stability ball between your back and the wall. Lower down into a squat, backside and knees in line, careful to keep knees over ankles. Engage your glutes and quads, and hold the squat for 20-30 seconds, working up to a minute. Slowly push back up and rest 5 seconds, then lower back into the squat. Squat slightly lower and add 5 seconds to the time. Push back up, rest and repeat one last time, squating slightly higher, but adding another 5 seconds to the exercise.
3. Iso-Pull Ups
This exercise is extremely beneficial for women who don’t always have the strength to complete a number of pull-ups. Add these at the end of your pull-up sequence, or complete them on most days and you’ll be able to do pull ups in no time!
Hold the pull up bar with a wide grip and pull yourself up, so your head is above your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower down. Repeat the pull up, but bring hands in closer to work another angle. On the 3 and final rep, switch to a chin up grip, palms facing in on the narrow grip bars. Repeat the circuit if you can. If you are not strong enough yet, load 50-60 pounds on the assisted pull-up machine and perform the exercise.
4. Isometric Ab Squeeze
This is an ab strengthener that you can do anywhere to strengthen your tummy, crunch free! Suck your abs in, drawing your belly button toward your back. Tighten your abs and hold for 30 seconds. Release for 5 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
Try adding these 4 exercises to your routine to target muscles in a different way. To make them more difficult, add time, get lower or repeat for additional reps.