While isometric exercises can help you build strength and flexibility, these exercises are not your typical strength-training workouts. Many isometric exercises can be performed in the comfort of your own home without exercise equipment. Understanding isometric exercises will help you determine if these exercises are good additions to your regular workout regimen.
What Are Isometric Exercises?
While you do work your muscles when performing isometric exercises, those muscles don't change in length and your joints don't move during the exercises. In other words, you can perform isometric exercises while in a stationary position with no movement.
Benefits of Isometric Workouts
In addition to being a convenient way to work out without using exercise equipment, isometric exercises can provide you with some health benefits. The Mayo Clinic reports that isometric workouts can enhance stabilization and boost strength in people with arthritis -- or who have injuries that inhibit range of motion. A review published in 2014 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that isometric exercise training lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate. Because of this, completing isometric exercises regularly may help lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Lower Body Exercises
Examples of lower-body isometric exercise are wall sits and leg pull-downs. Complete wall sits by holding a squat position with your back against a wall and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle -- your thighs should be parallel with the floor. Hold this position until your muscles fatigue, which is usually about 10 to 30 seconds, and repeat for a total of three sets. Complete leg pull-downs against a wall as well. In a standing position, pull one of your knees up until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Interlock your hands below your thigh. While pulling up with your hands, push down with your hamstring to create isometric resistance.
Upper Body Exercises
Completing hand presses and triceps wall pushes will help strengthen your upper body -- including your chest, biceps and triceps. To perform a hand press, stand or sit with your fingers interlocked and your hands in praying position. Both forearms should be parallel with the floor facing away from each other. Push your palms together and squeeze your chest, biceps and triceps muscles for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise for a total of three sets. Perform triceps wall pushes by standing against a wall with your back straight and arms down at your sides. With your palms facing the wall and using your arm muscles, push hard against the wall.
To work your abdominal muscles, including your obliques, perform plank and side plank isometric exercises. Complete a plank workout by getting into a push-up position, but support your body using your elbows and forearms instead of your hands. Keep your back and legs straight during this exercise. Aim to hold the plank position for 30 seconds, and repeat three times. Perform a side plank by turning to your side on the floor and supporting your body with one forearm and elbow, while keeping the rest of your body straight. Hold for about 30 seconds before switching sides.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and J