Going to the gym is not just about building more muscle. The idea is to strengthen your body and muscle development is but a consequence of strengthening your body. However, with busy schedules, it’s not always possible to hit the weights daily. Instead, you can do isometric exercises at your home or the local park.
Isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. Unlike normal exercises, they are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion, which means you can do them even in small spaces like a hotel room. Here are 6 isometric exercises to get you started.
1. V-Up Hold
Begin seated on the floor. Keep your knees bent with hands behind your knees, pulling your knees into the chest.
Point toes and keep your heels off the floor. Lean back slightly and lift feet off the floor, balancing on your butt.
Lift chest up and keep your back straight while looking forward. Extend one leg to a 45-degree angle while still holding behind the knees. Then, extend the other leg. Release one arm forward, then the other.
Hold this position for 4 seconds and then lower for 4 seconds. Repeat for 5 total sets.
Muscles Engaged: This is excellent for building balance and learning to use the core as your stabilizer.
Lie flat on your stomach with arms extended in front of you and legs extended straight behind you.
Variation 1: Lift opposite arm and leg, hold for 3 seconds, then come down and alternate sides. Repeat for 10 sets.
Variation 2: Lift just the arms off the floor for 3 seconds, then come down. Then, lift just the legs off the floor and hold for 3 seconds, then come down. Repeat for 10 sets.
Variation 3: Lift both arms and legs off the floor at the same time, hold for 3 seconds, then come down. Repeat for 10 sets.
Muscles Engaged: This move will really work your mid and lower back.
3. Plank Hold
Begin with a plank hold on forearms with palms facing up and arms shoulder-width apart. Keep your back in a straight line, squeezing your butt, thighs, and abs. Do not let your back sag or your chest cave between your shoulders.
Keep eyes focused on the floor so that your head remains in a neutral position. Shift your body forward onto tips of toes with weight in your shoulders, and hold that position for 3 seconds.
Then, shift back to the balls of the feet; hold for 3 seconds. This completes one set. Repeat for 10 total sets.
Muscles Engaged: Core, back, shoulders, glutes and quads. This is a fantastic full-body isometric strength exercise!
4. Crab Hold
Start in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward. Place your hands flat behind you about shoulder width apart and fingertips facing your heels.
Lift your hips up off the floor as high as you can, coming to a table-top position. Keep your head at a 45 degree angle. Squeeze your butt, flatten your stomach and breathe.
Keep your abs flat as possible, butt tight and hips as high as you can. Hold for 15 seconds and then slowly lower back down to the floor. Repeat for 3 sets.
To intensify the crab hold, you can do this move using only one leg. Simply lift one leg (straight) off the ground during the entire movement.
Muscles Engaged: This exercise is not only a great isometric core, quad, hamstring, and glute movement, but it’s also good for increasing shoulder and hip flexibility.
5. Squat Hold
Start in a standing position, hands behind head, feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
Keep chest up, back straight, abs in and weight in the heels. Lower into the squat as if you’re going to sit in a chair.
Hold the squat at the bottom while maintaining good posture and not compromising your form.
Hold squat for 10 seconds, then return back to standing position. Repeat for 6 sets.
Muscles Engaged: This move works your core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Start in a seated position. Place hands flat on the floor just outside your hips. Extend legs out in an L-position.
Engage your abs first, then press hands into the floor and lift butt and legs off the floor at the same time. Lean a little forward to help engage the abs to lift yourself up.
Hold 15 seconds then rest 15 seconds for 5 sets.
Modification: Sit in a cross-legged position with 1 leg extended. Then, press hands into the floor and lift your butt and legs at the same time.
Muscles Engaged: This move works your entire midsection as well as your arms. It’s challenging and different than your normal core exercises, but once you get it, you will see a difference if you keep at it!