Sometimes Less is More: Why You Need to Incorporate Isometrics into Your Strength Training

side plank


Do you remember the last time you were at the gym, and some muscle-bound monster was screaming bloody murder on the bench press? Or a kickboxing queen was going all Van-Damme on a punching bag? We’ve all seen them – these ultra-intimidating gym rats looking very impressive (or at least trying to). But would it surprise you that some of the best exercises you can do require no movement at all?

They’re called isometrics, and if you haven’t added them to your strength-training routine, you will, because the benefits of isometrics run far and wide, and most surprising of all, you can barely see them in action! 

What are Isometrics?

Simply speaking, isometrics are exercises that engage muscles without actually lengthening or shortening them; that is to say – there is no actual movement during the contraction. Sound weird? Well, remember the last time you did a plank? That’s isometrics at work! And because there’s no movement, these little contractions-that-could are a wonderful low-impact option to help boost your strength-training routine.

Now, let’s look at some of the other benefits of isometrics, and why you should be incorporating them into your strength-training routine, like now.

Increased Intensity

The next time you’re doing a chin-up, bicep curl, or crunch, try adding a little isometrics. Simply go to the height of the movement and pause for 5 seconds before bringing it down again. We guarantee that you’ll notice the difference. That’s because adding in that little isometric push forces your muscles to exhaustion, leading to more gains and faster results.

Improved Flexibility

Because isometrics are so low-impact, we tend to be able to push our muscles further, for longer, and without a painful backlash. The longer you do these exercises, the more your body will adapt to them, and increased flexibility will result. Why do you think those expert yogis are so flexible? That’s right – isometrics.

Faster Recovery

Isometrics are one of the favorite exercises used by physical therapists for their rehab patients, and for good reason. The slow, stable, and steady exercises are a perfect way to build and challenge muscles without straining them. They are also great at protecting your joints. So the next time you’re feeling sore, instead of sitting out your workout altogether, try some isometrics to keep pushing your muscles safely.

Better Posture

One area of the body where isometrics truly shine is in your midsection. The core and back muscles were made for isometrics and vice-versa. Why do you think planks, squats, and deadlifts are so legendary and effective? They all incorporate isometrics! The effect of exercises like these work to stabilize your body, leading to better posture and fewer injuries.

Reduced Blood Pressure

If you suffer from high blood pressure, you’ve got enough to deal with. Combine that with the fact that heavy weight lifting can exacerbate your condition, it could scare you right out of the gym. The good news is that isometrics have actually been shown to help lower blood pressure, and can be done in or out of the gym.

The 5 Best Isometric Exercises, according to Cat Kom

1) Plank (Low or High)


 2) Wall Sit (with or without the stability ball and double or single leg)

wall sit

 3) Isometric Squat

Isometric Squat

 4) Glute Bridge (Single or Double Leg)

glute bridge

 5) Side Plank

side plank

 No matter what your workout goals are, isometrics can help get you there faster. And if you’re looking for some extra guidance, check out a
 7-Day Free Trial from Studio SWEAT onDemand. Our huge library of onDemand workouts feature passionate trainers and exhilarating classes, filled with REAL PEOPLE getting REAL RESULTS. If you’re looking for motivation, we’ve got your back. If you’re looking to scream at the top of your lungs while doing calf presses, you’re on your own. 

Body-sculpting workouts. Non-stop new releases. Pick Your All Access Pass Now!