5 Isometric Exercises You Can Use in Your Home Workouts

Have your home workouts gotten boring?  If you're looking to add a challenge to any bodyweight exercise try adding Isometrics. Give these exercises a try to see how you might incorporate isometrics in your training.

5 Isometric Exercises You Can Use in Your Home Workouts

  1. Bodyweight Squat + Isometric Hold - 3x10-20+, 20-30+ sec hold.
  2. Bodyweight Reverse Lunge + Isometric Hold - 3x10-15+, 20-30+ sec hold.
  3. Bodyweight Glute Bridge + Isometric Hold - 3x15-25+, 20-45+ sec hold.
  4. Push-up + Isometric Hold - 3x5-12+, 20-30+ sec hold.
  5. Back Plank + Glute March - 3x20-30+ sec hold.

In a weeklong feature on my Instagram, I demonstrated five exercises that you can incorporate isometric contractions into.

What is an isometric muscle contraction? An isometric, sometimes called an iso hold is when a muscle contracts but, there is no change in it's length. Ex. Bracing, holding a plank.

You can add isometrics to an exercise, at the end of regular sets or perform them on their own.

There are a few ways to perform isometric exercises. The variation that I included in the feature is holding for time at the end of an exercise. You can also perform the inverse of this idea by performing the isometric on the front end.⁣

Isometrics on their own are not very stressful so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using them as a standalone training method.⁣

You can use these as a tool in your toolbox. Some people use isometrics as a way to spend more time in a sticking point or an area of weakness in an exercise.⁣

Ex. Performing an iso hold at your weakest point in a squat.

If you have questions on how to get started with your own workout routine, I suggest you read What Beginners Need to Know About Strength Training.

Bodyweight Squat + Isometric Hold

To perform the bodyweight squat:

  • Place your weight over your feet evenly, feeling your heels, big toes and pinky toes in the ground.⁣⁣
  • Before each rep, take a 3/4 breath into your stomach and tense your stomach. ⁣
  • Bend your knees first or your hips and knees at the same time and allow your knees to travel forward and out. ⁣
  • Go as low as you can maintain a good back position.⁣
  • Squeeze your glutes and press yourself away from the ground to return to your starting position.
  • Breathe in on the way down or, take a breath in at the top as instructed above. Breathe out as you reach the top and lock your hips out.

To perform the isometric contraction:⁣

  • Squat as low as you can maintain a good back position.⁣
  • Try to stay tight at the bottom, squeeze your glutes and take deep breaths into your stomach throughout the duration of the exercise.⁣

Try 3 sets of 10-20+ repetitions with a 20-30+ sec hold.

Bodyweight Reverse Lunge + Isometric Hold

To perform the reverse lunge:

  • All reps should be performed on the weaker leg first before switching sides.
  • Try to lower yourself down to your full depth as you are stepping backward (a range where you are able to maintain proper form), then push back up and return to the starting position.
  • Your front leg should be doing most of the work. Make sure that you engage your quad, hamstring, and glute of the front leg and push up, versus pushing backwards and transferring your weight to your back leg. Your body should travel in a relatively vertical path the entire time.
  • As you are pushing up and are completing the rep, exhale.

To perform the isometric contraction:⁣

  • Set up in the bottom of a lunge, shin roughly vertical, weight distributed over your heel, big toe and pinky toe.⁣ Brace your core and draw a breath into your stomach, sides and lower back.
  • Squeeze your glutes and hold for time.⁣ Throughout the duration of the isometric, create tension by pulling your front heel towards you and keep that glute squeezed on your back leg.⁣
  • Flip and match your total time on the opposite leg.⁣

Try 3 sets of 10-15+ repetitions with a 20-30+ sec hold.

Bodyweight Glute Bridge + Isometric Hold

To perform the bodyweight glute bridge:

  • Start by finding a foot placement that feels comfortable to you. For most people, this will be an angle where your feet are at about 90 degrees when your hips are fully extended.
  • Before each rep, take a 3/4 breath into your stomach and tense your stomach.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips, locking your glutes out, not your back. Tilt your pelvis or tuck your butt underneath you at the top.
  • Be sure to drive your knees outward and try to keep your weight over the middle of your foot.
  • If you're not sure what it feels like to lock your hips out, push your lower back into the ground and then squeeze and lift. You will not go as high but, this is what it feels like to lock your hips out.

To perform the isometric contraction:⁣

  • Reach full hip extension either by performing a rep or, holding the top of the last rep in your set.
  • Hold for time.⁣
  • Take deep breaths into your stomach throughout the duration of the exercise.⁣⁣

Try 3 sets of 15-25+ repetitions with a 20-45+ sec hold.

Bodyweight Push-up + Isometric Hold

To perform the bodyweight push-up:

  • Place your hands beneath your shoulders and turn them out slightly.
  • Try to keep yourself straight from your head to your toes.
  • Squeeze your glutes, brace your core and tuck your elbows in slightly to your sides.
  • Breathe in as you lower yourself, and out as you press yourself away from the ground.
  • You can adjust your hands onto a higher or lower surface to make this exercise easier or more difficult.

To perform the isometric contraction:⁣

  • Lower yourself into the weakest point of your push up.⁣
  • hold there for time.⁣
  • Take deep breaths into your stomach throughout the duration of the exercise.⁣

Try 3 sets of 5-12+ repetitions with a 20-30+ sec hold.

Back Plank + Glute March

To start, find two chairs or benches of equal height and sit between them. I used boxes in this video.

Dig your elbows into the surface and lift your hips to the top of a bridge position with your body straight from shoulder to knee. Your hands should be pointed directly towards the ceiling. Keep your glutes squeezed, brace your core and keep your chest up.

Your shoulder blades should be retracted towards your spine and you should begin to feel the muscles in your upper back after some time.

Holding this position, begin your march, pressing your whole foot into the ground.

Do not allow your pelvis to tilt or rotate throughout your march.

To make this move easier - hold for shorter lengths of time or move the chairs closer to your body.

To make this more challenging - hold for greater lengths of time, move your chairs further away from you.

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