Using Isometric workouts to get fit

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Posted on: 21 August 2015 by Claire Bilton

This article discusses whether isometric exercises can help you get fitter and healthier.

Isometrics have been around for a long time, but as new fitness crazes come and go, should we all be paying more attention to these types of exercises? Believe it or not, you can build serious strength—without even moving a muscle.

In these exercises, your muscles tense up, but don’t actually move. They take many forms and can be a lot more challenging than you think. To start with, press your hands together in a prayer position as hard as you can for 15 secs. You’ll feel tension in your chest and arms, yet your arms didn’t move at all. Holding a plank is another example that is probably more common and something you may already do.

In positions like these, the muscle fibres are activated but since there are equal forces against each other, there is no movement. Your muscles are still working very hard, and it forces your body’s muscles to adapt to this type of exercise.

We often think of lifting weights to get stronger. Weightlifting will always be the main way we see growth in our muscles, however, bodyweight exercises can be underrated and produce amazing results. With isometric exercises, you can take a break from jumping on boxes, lifting heavy weights, or doing endless crunches and help diversify your workouts. Isometric exercises have been found to help take off inches around your waist, increase overall strength, and even decrease high blood pressure.

The other big advantage is the fact it’s free! You can easily squeeze these types of workouts in an evening or morning as they don’t take too long. You could even do them while watching tv.

Below are some basic principles to follow:

1. Squeeze.

Since you’re not relying on movement to fatigue your muscles, you’ve got to squeeze them hard. The technical term for this is “maximal voluntary contraction,” which means you should tighten up your muscles as much as you can. When doing a plank, it’s important you learn how to really squeeze your abs to get the maximum benefit.

2. Breathe

When doing isometric exercises, the natural tendency is to forget to breathe. If you’re holding a position for a few minutes, you’ll have to breathe at some stage so make sure your breathing is constant and relaxed.  

3. Keeping the position.

Form is very important in isometric exercises. You need to ensure you are putting pressure on the right body parts otherwise it could lead to injury.

4. Mix it up.

Like any form of exercise, diversity is very important. There are isometric exercises for every part of your body. Combine this with an active lifestyle, healthy diet and you’ll see the benefits very quickly.

There is plenty of advice out there about isometric exercises. Talk to a personal trainer or use online personal training resources to help you understand this topic better. 

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