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Isometric Exercises - A Static Workout

isometric exercise
Isometric exercises, sometimes referred to as a static exercise, is a great way to strengthen muscles without breaking out in a sweat.

These non-moving workouts strengthen muscles when they are activated using tension. Remember as a kid in gym class you would have a sitting contest, but without the chair?

You would get into a sitting position with your back against the wall and see how long you could hold that position.

You could feel the muscles in your legs tensing up and eventually you would have to give up...but hopefully you were the last one and won the contest.

This is an isometrics, or a non-moving workout. This is just one example of how to strengthen muscles while holding still.



Ways to Strengthen Muscles

So if you are not moving your muscles doing squats or curls, how can this type of workout possibly help strengthen your body?

There are three different ways to activate and strengthen your muscles.

The first is by shortening the distance between your joints. A good example of this is is lifting a dumbbell weight while doing a bicep curl. This is known as a concentric contraction.

Another way to tone muscles is by lengthening the muscle while providing resistance. Using the bicep curl as an example, your muscle would be activated while lowering the dumbbell which is lengthening, or increasing, the distance between the joints. This movement is known as an eccentric contraction.

The last method to strengthen muscles is isometrics. This type of strengthening occurs when muscles are tensed without lengthening or shortening the muscle. Instead, the muscle stays static.

How Isometrics Work



With isometric exercises, your muscle fibers are engaged using equal forces against each other. This provides the tension needed to strengthen the muscle.

With static workouts, you engage the specific muscle or muscle group for a short period of time by holding your position and tensing the muscles.

If you have ever done pilates or yoga, then you know how effective isometric exercises are. Just 10 seconds of holding and tensing muscles and you know that you are getting a good workout.

Here are a few tips when doing isometrics.

1. Squeeze, Squeeze, Squeeze

To get the most out of your non-moving workout, you will want to squeeze those muscles. This will give you the maximum strengthening benefit.

The great thing about squeezing the muscles is you can do some isometrics while sitting in your chair at work. For instance, squeeze your buttocks and hold the squeeze to help tighten your buns.

Your co-workers won't even know that you are working out while sitting at the desk.

2. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe

Have you ever noticed that when you tense up you forget to breathe? This is true when tensing muscles as well.

So when doing your isometric exercises, don't forget to breathe. Concentrate on inhaling and exhaling slowly while strengthening your muscles.

Breathing should be done from the lower belly. Inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. This will keep your body and muscles well oxygenated.

3. Variety, Variety, Variety

When doing your isometrics, try mixing it up by adding some variety to your strengthening workout.

Research shows that by varying the angle of your isometric exercises increases muscle strength.

Changing your angle on an isometric move will activate different areas of that muscle group. This will give you a tone muscle without over strengthening just one area.

If you only strengthened your muscle the same way each time then you might end up with arms like Popeye the Sailer.

Add variety by working different muscle groups as well. You can do upper body, lower body and core isometrics to get a total body workout.

4. Position, Position, Position

With moving exercises, doing them correctly will give you the maximum benefit and reduce the chance of injuries.

With isometric workouts, or non-moving workouts, the correct position is equally important.

Using proper position will ensure you are strengthening the muscles while minimizing the risk of injury.

So assume the position, squeeze the muscles, add variety and don't forget to breathe.

Try the plank pose for a great abdominal isometric exercise.

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