Boost strength and stamina with isometric exercises

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Boost strength and stamina with isometric exercises

Fitting in exercise on a daily routine is not always easy.  But what if you could do something in your spare moments during the day that would maintain muscle strength and flexibility all without the use of equipment?  Isometric exercises may be your answer.  Also known as static strength training, this type of min-workout does not replace a regular workout routine which should include both aerobic and weight lifting.   Rather it is meant to a good addition you can add in anytime during the day when you have a few spare moments. 

What are isometric exercises?

Isometric exercise is a type of strength training in which your muscle length doesn’t change when you contract your muscle and your joints don’t move either during the exercise.  Basically, you perform isometric exercises while in a stationary position instead of moving through a range of motion.  This is why you can do these exercises anywhere without needing weights or special equipment.  It’s the perfect type of exercise to do that can be performed for just a few seconds and no one will know you are doing them.

The best way to understand what an isometric exercise is, think of when you have pushed against a wall or tried to open a window that won’t budge.  You are pushing or pulling against something that is not moving but that sort of motion works your muscles offering a level of resistance.

Anytime during your day, try to incorporate isometric exercises.  Just remember to exert as much force as you can against the resistance for at least 10 seconds.  

Benefits of isometric exercises

Not your conventional type of work out, isometric exercises, at the same time, do have many advantages you can benefit from:

·      Requires no equipment – just yourself

·      Enhances stabilization and bone strength in people with arthritis

·      Benefits people with an injury that limits their range of motion

·      Lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate

·      May lower risk of heart disease

·      Effectively works at increasing muscle strength and stamina

The one thing to remember about isometric exercises is although they offer an important piece of your workout efforts, they do have some limitations.  Each isometric contraction will only increase muscular strength in the exact position you are practicing, not through a whole range of motion.

Isometric exercise to try out

·      Wall sits

Hold a squat position with your back against a wall and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle – your thighs should be parallel with the floor.  Hold this position for about 10-30 seconds or until your muscles fatigue.   Repeat for a total of three sets.

·      Palm press

Press your palms together as hard as you can comfortably can, holding for at least 10 seconds and repeat several times.

·      Planks

Planks are a perfect isometric exercise for strengthening and toning the abdominal and core muscles.  Get into a push-up position, but support your body using your elbows and forearms instead of your hands.  Keep your back and legs straight during this exercise.  Aim to hold the plank position for 30 seconds and repeat three times. 

·      Neck strengthener

From a seated or standing position, clasp your hands behind your head, pulling your elbows out wide.  Then try to push your head back using your neck muscles, while simultaneously trying to push your head forward with your clasped hands.  This exercise works your upper back as well as your neck muscles.

·      Foot flex

While seated, place your left hand on the outside of your left foot, and your right hand on the outside of your right foot.  Then flex your feet outward as hard as you can while using your hands to resist the pressure by pushing inward against your feet. 

·      Calf raises

Stand next to a sturdy chair or any fixed object to hold onto.  Stand on just your right leg and rest your left foot on the back of your right calf and then stand up on to your toes holding on to the chair for balance.  Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.  Then repeat for the left leg.

·      Hip abductions

Stand to the side of a sturdy chair or table for support.  Your left leg should be next to the back of the chair.  Holding on to the chair with your left arm only, raise your right leg directly out to the side as high as you can.  Hold your right leg as close to parallel to the floor as you can and hold that position for 10-30 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times and change legs.