Plenty of us yearn for a toned, slim body, but aren’t built to enjoy intense workouts.
Don’t worry, there is still hope, that is if you make isometric exercises your new best friend.
This form of training has earned itself its fame for being able to tone your body’s muscles without really moving them. It works on a very simple principle – it is possible for you to strengthen your muscles, lose weight, and get a toned body if you can activate the problem area of those specific muscle fibers.
What Are Isometric Exercises?
Exercises that are performed without manipulating or changing the length of muscles are called isometric exercises. They demand muscle tension while the muscles remain in static position. In other words, these types of exercises require you to simply flex a muscle as hard as possible without actually moving it. These exercises can be practiced with equipment, but for most of them, you don’t need to use any equipment at all. Yoga postures, pilates, and other core conditioning exercises are isometric in nature. This kind of exercises work great for weight loss, body toning, and building muscle mass and strength.
9 Benefits Of Isometric Exercises
Skip the crazy cardio and weight training, and start your isometric workout with these exercises that will help you stay fabulously fit and relieve you of any muscle pain that you may have.
1. Can Fight Age-Related Muscle Loss
With age, you will lose muscle. We’re not just talking about losing muscle mass and that youthful tone, but also muscle mobility and flexibility. As you get older, your body also loses the ability to be able to digest amino acids, and this can slow down the time it takes for your muscles to recover, which is something you definitely want to avoid. All of these things mean that as you age, physical activity becomes harder and harder.
Isometric exercises can counter these problems as they build muscle strength, mobility, and endurance and help you retain these properties as you age. The older you get, these types of exercises only become increasingly important, so it’s best to consider starting these as soon as possible.
2. Help Activate Muscles
The term “muscle activation” refers to the recruitment of motor units by your muscles. The more motor units your muscles can recruit, the stronger they will be.
Recent studies show that daily practice of isometric exercises recruit about 5 percent more of motor units than any other type of exercise, which means that intense isometric exercises use up about 95 percent of your muscles, as opposed to about 88 to 90 percent that the other exercises utilize.
This means that over a long period of time, your muscles will be able to permanently live up to their real potential and use maximum mass when engaging in physical activity.
3. Help In Muscle Rehabilitation
Isometric exercises can help your muscles recover much faster. Injured muscles and joints, especially after surgery, need time to heal. However, this doesn’t mean that your muscles need to rest for too long a time either.
While your muscles do need to rest sometimes, keep in mind that they have to be trained back to full health in order to grow back to being bigger and even more strong. Isometric exercises help rehabilitate your muscles and joints slowly and steadily, working to strengthen them without putting them through movement, therefore, practically no strain. This is why these exercises are especially beneficial for people who are recovering from joint problems, or for those who suffer from bone issues. This is also why these exercises are so perfect for seniors who can’t handle intense exercises anymore.
4. Help Strengthen Muscles
Isometric exercises put your muscles through increased tension. By tensing your muscles for a prolonged period of time, you activate various chemicals and compounds which make them grow bigger.
The longer you tense your muscles, the lower your blood flow gets and the longer these muscle growing factors will stay within your muscles, therefore making them grow bigger. A high number of contractions can increase muscle strength while holding these contractions for a longer time will help increase muscle mass.
5. Don’t Need Much Time
While cardiovascular training, bodyweight training, and weightlifting sets all take a long time until the actual results start showing, engaging in isometric exercises gives you great results in terms of muscle growth without taking away too much of your valuable time that you otherwise could be using to work or to indulge in a hobby.
6. Increase Mental Health
Like all other forms of exercise, isometric exercises put your body through physical activity that makes your brain release happy chemicals or hormones called endorphins which are responsible for making us experience joy and elation.
Therefore people suffering from anxiety and depression can find a certain amount of relief by doing some kind of exercise or the other, one of which could be the isometric variety.
7. Increase Flexibility
Certain isometric holds such as squats can be greatly beneficial for your body as they give you a more flexible range of motion. When you squat, your own body, along with gravity, acts an element of resistance towards your leg muscles, therefore it counts as an isometric exercise.
When you squat, going as low as you can go will keep increasing your flexibility, especially the longer you hold the position for. Stretching out your muscles increases flexibility and since isometrics involve stretching to a certain degree, they help make your more mobile and flexible.
8. Targets All Muscle Groups
Since isometric exercises demand you to push your muscles against any solid, immovable object (which could also be yourself) it means you can train any and every muscle, including specific muscle parts in your body.
9. Can Be Done Anywhere
Isometric exercises can be practiced anywhere – either in your home, in your office at work, at the neighborhood park, or in the gym. The fact that these exercises don’t require any equipment, actually makes them very versatile. For instance, you could just be sitting in your chair if your office and flexing your abs – and that actually counts as an isometric exercise!
Isometric Exercises For Specific Body Parts
1. For Your Abs
Plank – This is one of the best-known isometric exercises for your abs and can be great for strengthening your core and helping to improve your posture. It can even help to lessen or get rid of back pain.
- To perform a plank, get on the ground as though you were going to do a pushup, then lower your arms so you’re resting your weight on your forearms and your toes.
- Tighten your core, keep your back flat, and hold this position while breathing normally. Stay in this position for as long as you can.
If the basic plank exercise is too difficult, it can be modified by resting your knees on the floor instead of holding yourself up on your toes. You can use this position to strengthen yourself enough to be able to graduate to the basic plank. If on the other hand, you find the basic plank too simple, you can modify it by lifting a leg or an arm off the ground. This will demand your core to do double duty to keep you in the right position.
2. For Your Shoulders
Isometric Flexion – This is a good exercise for people who are recovering from shoulder injuries and are trying to regain or build muscle strength.
- Stand just a few inches away from a wall and just push your hands towards the wall.
- Fully stretch out your hands and press against the wall as if you are trying to push the wall away from you.
- Hold the resistance for 12-14 seconds and do two more sets.
3. For Your Legs And Knees
Static Squats – This is a common exercise used by athletes and sportsmen to strengthen their leg muscles and their knees. If you think you have practiced the static squat enough, you can hold a kettlebell to further increase the resistance.
- Position yourself in the squat position while holding your back straight and your thighs parallel to the ground.
- Hold the squat position for 30-45 seconds. Inhale and exhale deeply to feel more burn in your muscles.
4. For Your Neck
Neck Flexion – This exercise will help improve the mobility and flexibility of your neck. It will also help relieve muscle spasms and neck pain.
- Sit upright and bend your head forward.
- Try to get your chin to touch your chest. Hold this position for 8 seconds.
- Repeat this about 8 to 10 times.
5. For Your Chest
Chest Squeeze – This exercise contracts and expands the muscles of your chest. Always remember to breathe properly while performing chest exercises; one should never hold their breath back while doing this particular set.
- Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart.
- Put your palms together and press them together. Hold it for 10 seconds.
- Now lift your right leg and balance. Hold for 10 seconds.
- Lower your right leg and lift your left leg. Hold it for 10 seconds.
Caution: Your blood pressure can increase dramatically when performing this exercise so be sure to check with your doctor first, especially if you suffer from hypertension or any other heart condition.
6. For Arms And Core
Forearm Plank – Also called the Dolphin pose in yoga, this exercise is very good for your shoulders, arm muscles, and core.
- Start in the plank keeping your body straight and abs tight.
- Start bending your arms slowly and lower your weight onto your forearms.
- Hold this pose for about 10 seconds. Try to push the holding time with each time you try this exercise.
7. For Lower Back
The muscles in your back work isometrically all throughout the day to keep holding your frame upright. These muscles can be strengthened with this simple isometric exercise that can also help relieve you of back pain.
Quadruped Exercises – These are performed on all fours and target your lower back and your glutes.
- Position yourself on your hands and knees such that your hands are in line with your shoulders and your knees are in line with your hips. Keep looking forward throughout this exercise.
- Tighten your back and abdominal muscles to ensure your spine stays straight. Slowly lift your right arm straight out in front of you.
- Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly bring your hand back on the ground. Repeat this for the other arm.
- Now slowly straighten one leg out behind you. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly bring your knee back down to the ground. Repeat this for the other leg.
- Lift your arms and legs alternately, 10 times each while keeping your spine straight.
Progress in this exercise can be made by lifting the opposite arm and the leg at the same time. Alternate sides at least 10 times.
8. For Thighs And Hips
Hip Adduction – This will build strength for your inner thigh muscles as well as your hips. To start with, you need a pillow between your thighs as you lie down.
- Lie down flat on your back.
- Hold a medium sized pillow with the help of your thighs.
- Press the pillow as hard as possible by applying pressure from both thighs at the same time.
- Now relax your thigh muscles without letting the pillow fall.
- Repeat about 8-10 times. Remember to evenly control your breathing while performing this exercise.
If you still have questions about the benefits of isometric exercises, we suggest you speak to a bodybuilder or a gym instructor to get further clarity. Making isometrics a vital part of your exercise routine will cost you no extra money, will save you time, and will help you get those great muscle and body toning results that you’ve always dreamed of!