While many fitness trends involve ever-more strenuous forms of activity, such as army-crawling through mud puddles, jumping on boxes, or doing endless crunches – there is something to be said for going back to the basics. Isometric exercises are an “old fashioned” form of exercise which has long been underrated – but fitness experts are now recommending that athletes and everyday people alike build this type of exercise into their routine. And the best part? Isometric exercises have been found to help take off inches around your waist, increase overall strength, and even decrease high blood pressure.
Isometric exercises are a way to build strength and muscle through a static hold. That’s right, you don’t need to move at all! But just because you don’t move when doing isometric exercises, doesn’t mean that they’re easy. In fact, isometric exercises will work your muscles in a different way than you’re used to – and if you do them correctly, you’ll definitely be feeling the burn.
Here are 10 incredible benefits you can gain from this simple yet effective form of exercise.
Isometric exercise can help you lose weight
Isometric exercise burns calories and boosts your metabolism aiding in fat loss. It’s a great way to build strength and muscular endurance, which helps grow more muscle mass to burn more fat, even when you’re at rest. With an isometric workout routine, you can set aside 10 to 15 minutes a day dedicated to losing weight, inches, and stress, and gaining much-needed energy to tackle your day.
Isometric exercise is low-impact
Isometric exercises are done in one position where the specific muscle is tensed and held in that flexed position for at least six seconds. This allows you to target areas that need to be strengthened without straining weak or injured joints, which is perfect for people who have suffered from injuries or have arthritis.
Isometric exercise improves the mind-body connection
Isometric exercises can help you fix bad movement patterns that may cause pain or injury over time. We can use isometric exercises to re-teach the central nervous system a new and better pattern. For example, posture is one pattern that can be improved with isometric exercises. If you practice exercises that encourage healthy posture, you can teach your brain to activate key postural muscles you don’t typically use.
Isometric exercise is free
Unlike most sports and fitness programs that require you to buy equipment, shoes, or special clothing, isometric exercise allows you to get fit for free. All you need is your body!
Isometric exercise can be done anywhere
You don’t need to pay for a gym membership or make an effort to go anywhere. Isometrics are a great workout you can do at home because the only equipment you need is your own body weight, the floor, and perhaps a wall to lean against for certain exercises. Fitness in the living room, anyone?
Most of these exercises can be used in the office for a quick workout, and some can be done on a plane to get your blood moving in a confined space.
Isometric exercise is easy to learn
With just a few simple moves, you can be an expert in isometric exercise – there are no complicated routines or skills to master. Older people or those just getting into fitness can enjoy isometric exercise because it is simple and safe, with no heavy weights or high-intensity movements.
And because studies show isometrics can strengthen your muscles in as little as 7 seconds per muscle group, you’ll walk away with more time to do the things you enjoy.
Isometric exercise helps you stay healthier as you age
While it may seem normal to lose fitness as you age, getting weaker can affect your quality of life. Isometric exercise is a simple way to maintain and increase muscle strength, bone density, flexibility, and balance to ensure you can maintain an independent lifestyle and continue to enjoy all your favorite activities.
Isometric exercise can help prevent injury
Isometric exercises are great for improving stability. Think about your core: Doing a plank for an extended period trains your entire core to activate and stay strong and stable in this contracted position. By working your core in this way, you’ll be able to fire all of the muscles and keep your body stable when you do the other movements that require your core to be engaged and sturdy too. Working major muscles isometrically can be really beneficial in reducing your risk of injury.
Isometric exercise supports good mental health
All exercise is good for mental health; however isometric exercise offers a particular opportunity for stress relief and wellbeing. Since this type of exercise forces you to focus on the form and hold your body in one position for an extended period of time, the level of concentration required means you enter an almost meditative state as you cultivate that endurance, body awareness, and the mind-body connection. Controlling your breath is also critical during isometric exercise. This helps support proper breathing habits during your daily life, which, in return, gives you many benefits, such as better recovery and stress relief.
How to get fit at home with easy isometric exercises
The amazing thing about isometric exercises is that you can get fit in your living room, for free, without any special equipment. Simply do these exercises for a few minutes daily and enjoy the many benefits.
The easiest example of an isometric move to think about is a plank. When you hold the plank position, you’re squeezing and engaging your entire core the whole time. That muscle contraction is called an isometric contraction. Hold the plank for at least 15 seconds and remember to breathe throughout.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then bend your knees as if you are sitting in a chair. Keep the knees tracking over the toes and chest up, while keeping the back straight. Hold your arms out in front of you and count to 15 as you hold the squat position.
Stand with your feet staggered and bend your knees until both legs are at 90-degree angles. Make sure your front knee does not pass the toe of the front foot. Try to keep your balance and focus on keeping your core engaged as you hold for 15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Lay on the floor with your knees bent and arms at your sides. Engage your arms against the floor, squeeze your bum muscles, and begin to lift your hips. Your knees should remain straight above your ankles as you continue to hold your hips up using your core muscles and glute muscles. Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears as you breathe through a 15-second hold of this position.
A side plank can be performed on your forearms or with your arms fully extended. Start in a regular plank position, then rotate to the side, engaging your core muscles, so your body stays in a straight line. Keep the feet staggered, or stack them on top of each other for more of a challenge. Hold the top hand on your hip or extend straight into the air. Hold for 15 seconds on each side.
Complete two or three rounds of these simple exercises and you will have worked nearly every muscle in your body to improve strength and stability without even breaking a sweat! Use isometric exercises daily whenever you have a few minutes to spare, and you will reap the benefits for years to come.
-The UpWellness Team