What Are Isometric Exercises?

There are times when you may need to mix up your exercise regimen for specific reasons. For example, perhaps you decide that you want to build stability and strength in targeted areas, or you need to make adjustments to your workout as you recover from an injury. In either of these situations, you may want to give isometric exercises a try.

Isometric exercises help you build strength and stability by requiring you to hold your muscles in 1 position. While this may sound easy, these are exercises where you are going to feel that infamously uncomfortable, but familiar good-for-you kind of burn (via Self). The isometric exercises themselves may also be familiar, as they might be a part of the strength training you've been doing. "People forget that there's an isometric action in almost every exercise," Mike T. Nelson, a Minnesota-based exercise physiologist, told Self. For example, whenever you are doing squats, the point where you hold your body in the squat position is the isometric phase of the full squat exercise.

The benefits of isometric exercises

According to the Mayo Clinic, isometric exercises primarily build stabilization and strength when you are in particular positions, as opposed to building overall body strength. Because stabilization is the primary focus, doctors often recommend isometric exercises to people recovering from an injury or managing painful conditions, like arthritis. Engaging in isometric exercises can also make it easier to work up to other types of strength training (via Mayo Clinic).

Another benefit that Healthline points out is that you don't need a lot of space to perform isometric exercises, so you can probably do many of these at home. Perhaps the most famous isometric exercise is the plank, which can help strengthen your core, quadriceps, and the anterior portion of the deltoid muscle. Hold your plank pose for 30 seconds for 4 rounds to activate and increase stability in these areas of your body (via Healthline).

While doctors may recommend isometric exercises if you are recovering from an injury or suffering from joint pain, they can provide benefits, even if you are in good physical health. They can also be an excellent complement to your regular workout routine. Choose types of isometric exercises that suit your fitness needs and push you to your limits without causing injury (via Healthline).