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Isometric Exercises: How They Work

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Basics and Benefits of Isometric Exercises

What Are Isometric Exercises?

Exercises that are performed mostly for strength training, isometric exercises involve applying a force against a resistant object building tension without movement. An example might be trying to open a window that is stuck or pushing against a wall. You exercise your muscles without moving or using any equipment. These extremely easy exercises can be done anywhere and no one even has to know that you are doing them. Some fitness professionals say it only takes ten seconds to get benefits from performing one exercise.

Who Can Do Isometrics?

Beginners, particularly, will benefit from isometrics as a way to begin exercising. Safe on joints and building strength easily, a basic mini workout involves short ten-second exercises that anyone can do. As you progress, you can add in other exercises for whatever body conditioning you want. Make sure you consult a physician anytime you start a new exercise routine. Those more experienced to exercising can use isometrics as a complement to workouts.

How To Do Isometrics

A warm up is very important with either stretching or jogging in place for about five minutes. Since isometric exercises are done in a static position, you will count time instead of repetitions. Sets should include ten to fifteen second holds and resting for one minute between each set. Beginning with the upper body, neck and shoulders, moving to the core and finishing with the lower body, legs and feet will give you a total workout in a short time. Yoga and Pilates are basic isometric exercises as well as the popular core conditioning programs out there.

Some Basic Isometric Exercises

Benefits of Isometrics

  • Neck and Upper Back Strengthening – Sitting or standing, lace your fingers behind your head and open your elbows as wide as possible. Push your head forward while using neck muscles to push back against your hands.
  • Core Strengthening – Sitting in a chair, tighten your stomach muscles while lifting your feet about one or two inches off the floor. For more resistance, press down on your knees.
  • Leg Strengthening – Standing, against a wall for balance if needed, bend knee keeping thigh perpendicular to the floor. Press down on thigh with one or two hands while continuing to lift upward. Switch and repeat with other leg.

In today’s busy world, it’s difficult to have a regular exercise program. With isometrics, you can benefit from even a few ten-second exercises. Increasing stabilization, strengthening muscles after an accident or injury, or just shedding a few unwanted pounds are some of the benefits. The Mayo Clinic has referred to a study that shows the possibility of lowering blood pressure with isometrics but cautions on pushing yourself too hard or holding your breath which can increase your blood pressure. Check with your doctor, do some research on all the available exercises and create one of your own programs or consult with a professional trainer.


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