Isometric Exercises are often overlooked by many when it comes to devising a workout program, but they shouldn’t be as they can provide enormous benefit to your training.
Typically used by beginners, older gym goers, and elite strength athletes — yes, I know, quite an eclectic mix — isometric exercises shouldn’t be sniffed at by the average gym bro.
Because they’re awesome, that’s why.
An isometric exercise is one that does not necessitate a dynamic movement against a force, but to withstand a force in one given position.
Mainly programmed to forge stability, their benefit can far surpass the expectations of many.
The Best Isometric Exercises: The Plank
We all knew this classic isometric exercise would be included in this article — it was inevitable.
The Plank is prescribed to many discerning gym goers and often joked as being the thing that slows time down.
Well, they’re not wrong — have you ever tried to hold on for ten more seconds while shaking like a leaf on a blustery autumnal afternoon?
The Plank works the entire core, strengthens the shoulder girdle, indirectly strengthens your thighs, and can help protect your spine from incurring injuries.
It will forever be a mainstay in the training programs of millions because it is challenging and almost anyone can hold a Plank.
The Dead Hang L-Sit
Now this is more of an advanced movement, but the L-Sit hold can set your core ablaze if you can stay in the position.
The L-Sit is an isometricexercise that requires you to set up like a Pullup or Dead Hang, then initiate a Hanging Leg Raise but hold onto the peak contraction.
This isometric exercise will challenge your abs, upper back, and hip flexors while decompressing your spine and loosening up your upper body in a similar fashion to the Dead Hang.
The Wall Sit, again, is another exercise that is implemented into many training programs, but can be challenging to even the most advanced lifters.
You literally just sit with your back against the wall in a parallel 90 degree squat for however long you like.
You shouldn’t go ass-to-grass on this isometric exercise as it would remove much of the tension from the exercise.
The whole point of this isometric exercise is to hold the position in a place where the muscles are most activated.
The Wall Sit activates the same muscles as the conventional Back Squat, but removes the spinal load.
And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can always add a plate or two on your lap.
The Pause Squat/Bench Press/Deadlift
Yeah, I know, while it isn’t a true isometric exercise, the addition of a pause into these movements simply makes them infinitely more challenging.
The brief isometric hold at the bottom of your Squat, Bench Press, or Deadlift can go a long way to improving your stability, form, technique, strength, and manipulation of the weight.
Simply pause for as long as you deem necessary — preferably a second to start — before you commence the movement. For the Squat, it would be at the hole; for the Bench Press and Deadlift, this would be an inch or two above the chest/floor.
The Dead Hang
The dead hang is a simple classic — literally just hold onto a pullup bar and hang.
You don’t need to be a proficient callisthenics bro to do a dead hang. Heck, if you can’t even do a pullup, get some straps and hang!
The dead hang is a nice, simple, easy addition to your pre-workout routine or as you warm up.
For 5 reasons why you should do Dead Hangs, check out our article.
The Hip Flexor Kick
This exercise is very simple to do and can be done most days once you get used to it.
By tying a band around a solid, sturdy column/post/railing/etc, place your foot in the resistance band’s loop, raise your knee to 90 degrees to your body and your foot to 90 degrees to your knee.
Proceed to hold this position, feeling a pulling tension from the resistance band, for approximately 10-15 seconds before changing leg.
Now, this exercise isn’t glamorous, but it will bring up your Hip Flexor strength fast.
Triceps Extension Hold
This isometric exercise, like with the paused movements, is a way to make a dynamic movement more challenging.
On your last rep of Triceps Extensions, assuming you are fairly fatigued, we recommend that you pause at the top of the exercise, keeping your arms at a 90 degree angle and holding this position until you cannot hold it anymore.
This technique will burn out your Triceps even more than they already are with the intention of surpassing muscular failure.
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