Benefits of Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises are performed when the muscle length remains the same for the whole duration. Isometric exercises are beneficial because they do not add a lot of stress to your joints. They are great for use in rehabilitation and for increasing your strength.

Isometric activation means that a muscle is producing an active force while it maintains the same length; no visible movement occurs during this time. The tension produced by a muscle is equal to the force of an external load that is being applied. Additionally, this type of muscle action does not produce joint movement. Static exercises do not involve mechanical work and typically require isometric activation of one or more muscles to stabilize the body. It only takes about 10 seconds to effectively perform one isometric exercise and, in some cases, no one will even know you’re doing it.

To give you an idea of what an isometric exercise looks like, think about pushing against an immovable object, such as a wall or signpost, or trying to open a window that won’t budge. This allows your muscles to receive isometric exercise even though you’re not moving the wall, post, or window. In other words, your muscles can get exercise just by trying to move something that offers this level of resistance.

Time

Isometric exercises take minimal time to complete. Most exercises can be done in a minute or less. The plank is a core isometric exercise that works wonders for the abdominal and lower back muscles. Try this exercise on a mat by positioning your forearms on the ground and supporting yourself on them and your toes. Tuck your navel in towards your spine and hold as flat as you can while squeezing your glutes. Try to aim for 30 seconds to start. If you are an advanced exerciser, try holding it for a minute or longer.

Rehabilitation

Performing isometric exercises regularly will help with improving the overall flexibility of your joints. Isometric exercises can help improve muscles after a surgery is performed, according to MyIsometrics.com. These can be especially beneficial when it comes to ball-and-socket joints such as the knee, hip or shoulder. These exercises can also help improve bone density, minimize arthritis and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Increase Strength

Isometric exercise is intense and contributes to burning fat and building muscle. When you are nursing an injury back to health, isometrics are great for rebuilding strength in that area just by holding for 10 seconds at a time. An example of this would be performing a shoulder shrug after a rotator cuff surgery. Take a short break and repeat the hold at least four more times. You can perform isometrics daily or whenever your schedule will allow.

Tips

Isometric exercises can be performed almost anywhere and do not require the use of weights. Breathing slowly and deeply is essential in isometrics and can also contribute to a higher calorie expenditure. Pushing or pressing your own weight on an object that does not move are common examples of isometric exercises.

Types of Isometric Exercise

Palm Press
Press your palms together as hard as you comfortably can. Hold for at least 10 seconds, and repeat if desired.

Core Engagement
While sitting in a chair, deliberately tighten your stomach muscles, and hold your feet an inch or two above the floor. To increase the resistance, push your knees down toward the floor with your hands while trying to keep your feet from touching the floor.

Neck Strengthener
From a seated or standing position, clasp your hands behind your head, pulling your elbows out wide. Then try to push your head back using your neck muscles, while simultaneously trying to push your head forward with your clasped hands. This exercise works your upper back as well as your neck muscles.

Foot Flex
While seated, place your left hand on the outside of your left foot, and your right hand on the outside of your right foot. Then flex your feet outward as hard as you can while using your hands to resist the pressure by pushing inward against your feet. You can perform variations of this exercise to reach different muscles by:

  • Holding the insides of your feet and moving them toward each other while pushing outward against them with your hands
  • Holding the front of your feet and pushing your feet forward while using your hands to resist the forward motion
  • Placing your hands against the back of your feet and pulling your feet backwards against the pressure of your hands

Leg Lift
In a standing position, lift your left leg while keeping your knee bent so that your thigh is perpendicular with the ground. Then, use one or both hands to push your thigh down while continuing to lift it upward. Switch legs and repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

Are you hooked yet? Once you get used to building these mini-workouts into your day, the motions will start to come naturally. Besides these suggested exercises, you can think up many more of your own. Anything that causes you to use a muscle or limb to oppose the opposite one will give you the strength benefits of the training. You can achieve the same effect by pushing or pulling against any immovable object. Just remember to exert as much force as you can against the resistance for at least 10 seconds.

The most effective way to use isometrics is to incorporate it into a larger strength-training program. Although isometric exercises offer an important contribution to your workout efforts, they do have some limitations. For one, each isometric contraction only increases muscular strength in the exact position that you’re practicing, not through a whole range of motion. It is therefore best to think about isometrics as a complement to your weight training, not a substitute for it.

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