Also known as static strength training, isometric training involves intense static positions in which there is no shortening or lengthening of the muscle and its associated joints. Isometric exercise is great for beginners and seasoned fitness buffs because it is safe on joints and can build strength and create tone.
Isometric exercises build strength by holding the muscle contraction against resistance, using only body weight or you can add extra weight once the body only weight becomes less challenging. Isometrics are also great for improving body awareness, posture and movement.
I have for you, a leg burning challenge to try in the gym or at home this week. This set of four isometric lower body exercises will focus on boosting muscle endurance and strength. Make sure to start and end the workout with a decent warm-up and cool-down.
ISOMETRIC CALVE RAISES
This one is ideal for strengthening the outer most muscle that defines the size and shape of the calves.
Stand upright on the edge of a step or bench with your feet shoulder width apart and knees straight. Rise up onto the toes and try to balance your body weight on the balls of your feet. Hold that position for 10 seconds, or longer depending on your fitness level, then slowly lower you heels down until you feel a stretching in the calve muscle. Repeat the exercise. Aim for 3 sets of 5 reps.
This one focuses on the quads and glutes to promote muscle and strength gains.
Step forward into a lunge position and make sure all toes are pointing straight ahead. Now sink down until legs are at 90 degrees and hold that position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Push back up to starting position and change sides. Aim for 3 sets on each side.
ISOMETRIC WALL CHAIRS
This is a challenging exercise that targets the entire lower body. It's ideal for increasing strength and endurance in the calves, glutes and quadriceps.
Start by standing with your upper back and back of head pressed against a wall, with your feet placed about 2 feet out from the wall. Holding your arms across your chest, slowly lower down the wall by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute before returning to the start position. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat for a total of 3 sets. If you need this to be more challenging, lift one heel for a few seconds and then the other.
ISOMETRIC LEG EXTENSIONS
This targets the quadriceps at the front of the thigh and hip flexors. Performing this exercise correctly requires a strong static contraction of the core and good range of motion in the hamstrings.
Start by sitting with your tailbone firmly against the back of a firm chair with hands resting on the chair at your sides. Both feet flat on the floor and looking straight ahead, slowly extend your right leg out in front and contract the quadriceps muscle by flexing your foot and toes back toward your shins as much as possible. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds before lowering your leg to the starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 8 reps per leg.