Isometric exercises are one of the best ways to build serious strength

Isometric exercises are predominantly used in strength training, as they’re incredibly effective at strengthening specific areas of the body and enhancing performance. They’re also great if you’re suffering an injury, as they don’t add stress to your joints.

“I love including isometric exercises in my workouts because, from holding a seemingly innocuous position, you can really get the muscles working hard and shaking,” explains personal trainer Tom House. “They provide a good contrast to the regular isotonic exercises in which you are contracting and lengthening your muscles repeatedly, thus you can make something feel ten times harder quite simply through holding the tension in the muscles for longer than they are accustomed to.”

Most of the time, home workouts involve a hell of a lot of dynamic movement; enough to make your neighbours in the flat below think you’re going to come through the ceiling. But we have excellent news: sometimes, the best thing for your muscles is as little movement as possible.

Okay, we’re not exactly talking lying on the sofa watching Netflix. We mean isometric exercises, which involves holding a static position, without any contraction or extension of the muscle, to maintain tension.

These are the top five isometric exercises to add in to your usual routine, or do them on their own (aim for 3 rounds) for the perfect lunch break workout…

1. Wall squats

  1. Squat with your back against a wall, knees at 90 degrees, thighs parallel with the ground.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds.
  3. If you like, add in alternating heel raises for a further 30 seconds, whilst keeping the hips still. The quads are working isometrically, the calves isotonically. Yowch. You can also do these without the wall.
2. Planks

Planks are excellent for core strength, especially if you want to improve posture.

  1. Place forearms on the floor, elbows below shoulders and arms parallel to your body, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your head up and eyes forward, remembering to breathe.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
3. Reverse planks

Also great for your core, reverse planks get the tricep firing too, as well as the rest of the posterior chain – lower back, glutes, hamstrings.

  1. Sit on the floor, legs out in front of you.
  2. With your hands on the floor, fingers facing forward, lift your body up until it forms a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Keep your arms and legs straight and your core engaged, without letting your hips drop.
  4. If it’s too tricky, go down and support yourself on your forearms, rather than with your arms extended.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.
4. Glute bridge holds

  1. Lie face-up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Keep your arms at your side, palms down.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground, so you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. Squeeze your glutes and don’t let your hips drop.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.
5. Low press-up holds

  1. Get in a good push-up position that feels comfortable.
  2. Lower your chest to a few inches off the floor.
  3. Keep your core engaged and don’t let your hips sag.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds.
  5. You can then try transitioning straight into 10 regular push-ups for an added workout.

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