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6 Isometric Exercise Examples You Should Know

Isometric exercises sound both intimidating and challenging – however, chances are, you’ve likely completed a variation of isometric exercises before without realising!

Isometric refers to the contraction of a muscle or a group of muscles without any associated movement in the surrounding joints. Therefore, an Isometric exercise involves the tightening of specific muscle groups against resistance where the joint remains still.  These low impact exercises are fantastic for joint health and building strength. Implementing them into your fitness routine will also help improve your physical endurance and stability within the tendons and ligaments.

In this article, NQ Physio Solutions have compiled six isometric exercise examples you should know to help strengthen your muscles. 

6 Isometric Exercises to Include in Training

1. Calf Raise Hold

If you have participated in a basic physical education class before, you would be familiar with how to perform a calf raise.

Calf raise holds are easy to do – inside and outside of the gym. The calf muscles tend to be forgotten, therefore, can become weak compared to the larger muscle groups we work more often. 

How to do a calf raise hold: 

  1. Stand straight with your feet hip distance apart. You can do this anywhere or with a wall to support you if it becomes hard to balance
  2. Raise your heels slowly and lift your body off the ground, concentrating on those calf muscles to hold you up
  3. Remain in this lifted position for up to a minute before slowly coming back down

The great thing about this exercise is that you don’t need any equipment, and you can alter the difficulty by adding more time to the holding period or by holding some weight in your hands.

2. Plank

The plank exercise is challenging for most people, for a good reason. The plank is a rare isometric exercise that targets the whole body, from upper body muscles and the core to the lower body. 

How to do a plank: 

  1. Get on all fours and extend your legs with your feet close together
  2. Place your hands in line with your shoulder and lift off the ground
  3. Keep your shoulders down and tense your core to stabilise your body into position
  4. Clench your glutes for extra support and to help activate your lower body
  5. Hold the position for as long as you can

This exercise can be made easier by making a few modifications to your position. Instead of your hands on the ground try your forearms or try holding the position on your knees rather than your feet.  

3. Wall Sit 

Another common isometric exercise is the wall sit. This isometric exercise focuses on your quadriceps, hamstring and glutes - the ultimate lower body exercise. Just like calf raises, this exercise does not require any equipment.

How to do a wall sit:

  1. Stand against a wall
  2. Bend your knees and lower your bottom to maintain a sitting position
  3. Ensure that your knee joints form a 90-degree angle
  4. Keep your hips and shoulders against the wall
  5. Hold the position for as long as you can 

4. Leg Extensions

Leg extensions are a bit more complicated as they require some equipment to get the best results. This isometric exercise targets your quads and patellar ligament, which is the tendon attached to your kneecap and shinbone.

How to do leg extensions:  

  1. Sit on the chair, ensuring your hand are resting on the sides facing a wall
  2. Keep your feet flat on the floor
  3. Slowly extend one leg pressing into the wall, engaging your quads.
  4. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on your strength

If you are in a gym you can perform this exercise on a leg extension machine and lock the bar into position. 

5. Glute Bridge

Glute Bridges are the perfect exercise to build your glutes and stimulate those lower body muscles. This exercise does not need any equipment. However, if you want to challenge yourself or are ready for more pressure, you can practice the glute bridge with resistant bands or weight.

How to do a glute bridge:

  1. Lie down on the ground, keeping your arms close beside you
  2. Keep your legs aligned to your hip distance
  3. Clench your glutes, lift your body up, and hold for 5-10 seconds before slowly returning
  4. Repeat for 10 lifts, take a break before doing another set of 10

6. Static Lunge

Like the calf raise hold, the static lunge may seem simple and easy, but it should be completed slow and monitored to ensure pressure is maintained on your muscles throughout. This exercise targets your glute muscles, as well as your hamstrings and quadriceps muscles.

How to do a static lunge:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Keep your hand on your hips.
  3. Ensuring your shoulders, back, and chest are flat, engage your core and take a step forward. The step should be large enough that the front leg is bent at a 90 degree angle. 

Final Thoughts

Isometric exercises are fantastic for tightening and strengthening your muscles individually. These examples of isometric exercises should be incorporated in your fitness routine if you are looking for something slow-paced yet challenging enough to show improved results in strengthened muscles.  Remember to start slowly and build the hold time.  Start with 10-20 seconds increasing gradually up to a minute. 

NQ Physio specialises in helping patients improve their muscles and provide further information on ways to restabilise and strengthen parts of your body. If you’re looking for personalised advice on strengthening, get in touch with our expert team of physiotherapists today.

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