There are tons of at-home workouts you can do with no equipment with positive effects, but it’s tough to make those workouts add bulk and muscle mass to your physique. The key, according to trainer Brian Nguyen, is not only doing the right exercises, but also doing them in quick progressions that force your muscles to be explosive.

Nguyen trains Mark Wahlberg and has worked with several other celebrities and star athletes, such as Will Ferrell and Kobe Bryant. He is also the co-founder of Brik Fitness, which plans workout programs for a number of stars, Olympic athletes and collegiate teams.

This training routine, encouraged by Nguyen, is a great way to work out at home when you can’t make it to the gym, unless you already do most of your workouts outside that setting. Regardless, the exercises and movements utilized here maximize results by constantly testing your strength against gravity while also working on stamina in various muscle groups.

Contents

The basic bodyweight exercises to build muscle

This workout includes four categories of familiar exercises: squats, pushups, lunges, and planks. The benefits come from utilizing different variations of each of these, and the great results you’re looking for will come from taking an intense approach to each exercise until the routine is finished.

INSTRUCTIONS: Perform this workout as a circuit. Do each exercise from the first “category” for 30 seconds, then move on to each of the exercises from the next category for 30 seconds, until you get through all 12 of the exercises. Rest for 3 minutes after each circuit. Do the circuit for a total of three to five times.

1. Squats: Bodyweight (“Air”) Squats, Squat Jumps, Isometric Squats

2: Pushups — Standard pushups, Plyometric pushups, “Pause” pushups (hold for 1 second in the middle of the rep)

3. Lunges: Bodyweight Alternating Lunges, Split-Squat Jumps, Isometric Lunge Holds

4. Planks: Side Planks, Front Planks, Hip Bridges

It’s all about pushing your muscles constantly over a brief period of time—getting a lot done quickly, in other words.

For example, do the body weight squats at a good strong pace, setting your legs up to be explosive for the squat jumps. Fatigue should set in during these jumps, which is, of course, great for muscle building as you move forward with the workout. “Then finally, the iso hold is like the icing on the cake,” Nguyen says. “Because the muscle has nothing left already and I’m still asking it for more. So ultimately, it breaks more muscle cross fibers so that you get growth, and that’s the bulk part of it.”

Nguyen stresses the importance of the explosive exercises in this routine, saying the squat jumps, plyometric pushups and split squat jumps will really work to reshape your body and build muscle. “If you’re doing the body weight movement of these exercises but not the explosive component, then you’re going to have more of the muscle you might find on cross country runners,” he says. “If you’re looking to bulk up, it doesn’t really make sense to just do repetitive motions like jogging for a long period of time.”

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Pull-ups are a perfect way to strengthen your entire upper body. With only a bar, you can work your back, shoulders, chest, arms, and core. The classic pull-up has a simple premise — hang straight down from a bar, and pull yourself up until your chin gets clears it. But according to Adam Griffin, a Denver-based strength coach and owner of online fitness community Bodeefit there’s a little more to it. How Griffin suggests you crank one out: Hold the pull-up bar with an overhand grip (if you have an underhand grip you’re doing a chin-up, which is typically easier because you’re also using your biceps to pull you up), hands shoulder-width apart. Hang with your core engaged, feet together, and toes pointed slightly ahead of you (what Griffin calls a banana position). Don’t hang like a dead fish it puts unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joints. Engage your lats by pulling them down toward your lower back, and at the same time, pull up with your arms until you get your chin over the bar. As you lower to your starting position, maintain control of your body the entire way. The end of a single rep is when your elbows are fully extended at the bottom.

Whether you need to get stronger to complete the classic, or you’re more advanced and want a new challenge, Griffin has 10 pull-up variations to test drive.

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Invictus Blog

Benefits of Isometric Holds For Pull-Ups
Written By Bryce Smith

I recently wrote about the pull-up being the upper body squat. There are so many benefits to pull-ups that they should be a major staple in any training program. Since then, I began thinking about a standard to set for pull-ups as I know all you guys like challenges; so, I thought you might like this one!

We have one rep max goals in all of the other major lifts; why not have one for pull-ups as well that is not something silly like 15 reps of a dead hang, which is significantly easier for the skinny athletes who weigh very little? I got to thinking and I think a great goal is to be able to do a strict pull-up with the same amount of weight that you can bench. Just to make the math easy, a two-hundred pound male that bench presses three-hundred pounds should be able to perform a strict weighted pull-up with one-hundred pounds added to his frame totaling three-hundred pounds.

So if we cannot currently do this, how do we get there? What are some things that we can do? I love volume training, but in a controlled setting so as to not develop tendinitis in the elbows. That could be one approach, but even better yet could be isometric holds. With volume training, many athletes break the core to extremity principle and activate the biceps before the lats and musculature of the upper back which is incredibly inefficient and builds poor motor recruitment patterns. Those inefficiencies only get you so far before you begin to get punched in the face by the fatigue fairy. So what are these isometric hold thingies you ask?

Pull (or jump) yourself up until your upper chest kisses the bar. Keeping your shoulders pulled back and down, really retract those shoulder blades as if you were trying to crack a peanut between them. With your elbows, pretend like you are elbowing someone in the gut and really pull them way back. You will feel the muscles firing and burning in the upper back similar to when you use the Crossover Symmetry. Those are the muscles we should be striving to use in most pulling movements. In the meantime, squeeze harder and try to turn that peanut in to peanut butter. Or even better, in to peanut oil.

Isometric (Iso) means there is no lengthening or shortening of the musculature, simply striving to maintain one shape. A related example would be a plank hold, hollow body hold, or holds in varying positions of an Olympic lifting pull. Most athletes rely on their arms to do the work and limit their potential. If we all learn to retract the scapulae, we provide the recruitment of more muscle fibers in the fight against the weight, and we help maintain the rigidity of the spine to minimize the changing of spinal position leading to more efficient force transfer. In addition to all of the above benefits, these iso holds in the pull-up will help to strengthen the lower traps and rhomboids which are helpers with posture and t-spine extension, both of which help to put the shoulders in more stable positions keeping them safe and injury free.

Try adding a 30-45 second hold in to your training at the conclusion of your sessions. Once you can accomplish 45 seconds successfully, try adding some additional weight. Before you know it, you will be banging out a one rep max strict pull up equivalent to your one rep max bench press. Best of luck!

How To Get In Shape Without Moving A Muscle

By Linda Melone, Next Avenue Contributor

Changing into workout clothes and breaking a sweat isn’t always an option when you’re strapped for time or at work. Isometric exercises, a.k.a. “static contraction training,” could provide an occasional alternative with benefits you can’t get from traditional workouts.

By definition, isometrics refers to exercises in which there is no change in the length of the muscle, says Irv Rubenstein, exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S., a science-based exercise facility in Nashville, Tenn.

“More accurately, it’s when the joint doesn’t change angle so the muscle length stays the same. Many of the movements we make and positions we assume in life are isometric.” Examples include sitting or standing in good posture; even picking up a box is isometric for the back, although it requires lengthening of muscles of the legs, Rubenstein adds.

(More: 8 Things to Never Do During Your Workout)

In addition, many traditional, or “isotonic exercises” (exercises that involve a stretching and contracting of the muscle) also contain an isometric element. At the gym, for example, bench pressing requires an isometric contraction of core muscles. You also isometrically contract your core during squats to keep your back stable when using heavy weights — less so for bodyweight squats. Exercise machines, on the other hand, stabilize your body for you and therefore do not require isometric core contraction.

Here are some of the pros and cons of isometrics along with a few popular examples to try on your own:

The Benefits of Isometrics

Convenience You can do isometrics anytime, anywhere, says Rubenstein. “Even in the car or on an airplane. They’re effective for tone and muscular strength, although they’re not as effective if you’re mainly looking for endurance improvements,” he notes.

An isometric abdominal exercise includes simply contracting your abdominals and focusing on pulling in your belly button towards your spine; hold a few seconds and release.

Less joint stress Isometrics work well if you have achy joints. “Since the joints don’t move, there’s less stress on them,” says Rubenstein. Simply gripping underneath a desk or sink works the biceps and can be done without hurting the elbow joint, for example.

(More: 7 Stretches That Help Ease Neck and Back Pain)

You can often do isometrics if you’re injured Many isometric exercises can be done even when you’re recovering from an injury, and they are often prescribed as part of a rehab program. “If you’re immobilized and can’t move, they’re better than nothing,” says Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, orthopedic surgeon at Santa Monica Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group in Santa Monica, Calif. “If you’re not injured, however, isometrics should be a part of a bigger program that includes isotonic exercise as well.”

The Downsides of Isometrics

May increase blood pressure Isometrics themselves don’t increase blood pressure, but holding your breath while performing them, a practice called the Valsalva maneuver, can. “This is usually only an issue with large body movements,” says Rubenstein. Smaller isometric exercises for your arms, for example, are less likely to have this effect. In fact, a study by the American Heart Association showed that four weeks of isometric handgrip exercises produced a 10 percent drop in blood pressure.

You don’t burn many calories Since you’re not moving, you’re not expending that much energy, says Pete McCall, senior adviser for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “You’re doing a much smaller amount of work than you would when doing isotonic exercise or cardio. You get more bang for your buck doing other things.” Include cardio and traditional exercises along with isometric moves if your goals include weight loss.

Isometrics are not complete on their own Isometrics can be part of the overall fitness picture, but their role is limited in the general scheme of things, says Mandelbaum, who recommends using isometrics only in a pinch or as a small part of a traditional workout regimen.

General Guidelines for Isometrics

  1. Avoid holding your breath, which raises blood pressure
  2. Hold each contraction for three to 10 seconds (based on your abilities)
  3. Modify the exercise if necessary

Do these three moves — described below — on their own or include the planks and dead bug as part of your core workout and the wall sit along with your leg exercises.

Planks

Get in position on your forearms and up on your toes; make sure to keep your back straight — avoid hiking up your hips or allowing your back to sag; hold for 20+ seconds. For a greater challenge, raise one foot off the ground a couple of inches; hold and repeat with the other leg.

Dead bug

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Engage your abdominals by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Lift both arms and legs off the floor; knees should directly over hips and bent at a 90-degree angle; elbows should be directly over shoulder joints so hands are behind you. Slowly lower the right heel and left hand toward the floor. The hand and heel should tap the floor lightly (but not rest). Then slowly bring the leg and arm back. Continue the movement, alternating sides.

Wall Sit

Stand with your back against a wall and lower yourself until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Shuffle your feet forward until your lower legs are parallel to the wall behind you. Your knees should be bent to 90 degrees. Hold your arms out in front of you and hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Exercise without moving: is it possible?

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The weather is often one of the most common excuses for not training…

A little desire to leave home, or a greater willingness to go home right away to enjoy the comfort of your house, may compromise your desire to move and to exercise.

But did you know that you can always exercise without leaving your house and without moving?

But how?

Would it be true that, to strengthen your muscles, it’s necessary to make continuous movements? Well…partly yes, but it isn’t the only way.

Discover more!

Strengthen muscles effortlessly and without leaving your home. With these tips, there are no more excuses for not training.

Exercise the body without moving: how?

Although it’s common to associate the practice of physical exercise with performing continuous movements, there are some tricks and a specific type of training in which you don’t need to do this: isometric training.

But what is an isometric training? And is it good for everyone? What are its advantages? And its disadvantages?

I’ll unveil this and I’ll give you suggestions for the best exercises.

Isometric training: what is it?

According to the Sports Fitness Advisor:

“Isometric exercises, also known as static strength training, involve muscular actions in which the length of the muscle does not change and there is no visible movement at the joint.”

Isometric exercises involve isometric contraction which, in turn, is a contraction “(…) in which the muscle is activated, but instead of being allowed to lengthen or shorten, it is held at a constant length.”

It means that we can do several exercises without joint movements, and work our body at the same time.

Isometric training: benefits

This type of training has numerous advantages such as:

  • Increases strength.
  • Offers advantages in terms of physical rehabilitation and pain reduction, due to the increase in strength and in the stabilization of the joints, that allows to prevent the atrophy of muscles that can occur during the phase prior to the rehabilitation process or during the recovery phase (it’s also suitable for elderly people).
  • Helps to increase muscle mass.
  • Safety – it can be considered safer than conventional training, especially because of the joint protection it promotes.
  • Promotes toning and muscle definition.
  • Reduced cost: no expensive material is required, and it can even be done with body weight only.

Even without moving, it will offer various benefits to your body.

Try some of the exercises that we’ve chosen for you, some you might have heard of, and others are not so common.

Isometric exercises: Top 5

Lateral Plank

One of the most complete exercises for core strengthening, that allows you to activate multiple muscles at the same time.

This exercise activates muscles of the abdominal area (in general, with special emphasis on the lateral muscles), the back, the shoulders, the chest and the legs (such as the adductors) and also the glutes.

How to perform:

  • Lie on your side with your legs and feet stretched, one on top of the other, and place your elbow or hand under your shoulder, aligned with your head.
  • Exhale, raise the upper body and the knees, and raise the free arm upwards or keep it close to the upper body.

Maintain this position as long as possible.

Those who have joint problems in the wrist should lean on the elbow, to avoid harm.

Arm extensions with Fitball/Swiss Ball

In this exercise you only need to use one Swiss Ball.

As in the previous case, it strengthens not only the core, the lower back and the general upper body (such as the chest), with special emphasis on the abdominals, but also some leg muscles, such as the quadriceps.

How to perform:

  • Support your hands on the ball in a plank position, as if doing push-ups.

Tip: Align your back, neck and heels to “form” a straight line, support on the ball very well with your fingers wide open, and keep your elbows slightly bent.

If you want to add intensity to the exercise, try doing the same exercise but with the upper body lower – near the ball. Some people can maintain this position for 4 minutes, can you? That’s the challenge!

Inverted Row on TRX or functional training rope

This workout with TRX or with a functional training rope is great to work the back, the biceps and the abdomen.

How to perform:

  • Lie belly up, stay under the TRX with your arms aligned with the rope, and with your legs bent or stretched (as you prefer).
  • Raise the body as far as possible, and maintain this position for as long as possible.

Don’t forget to always look upwards, so as not to force the cervical.

A trick to withstand this exercise: think about other things to get away from the pain, because it will appear when you least expect it.

Frontal Plank

Considered as the core’s ex-libris, the plank is considered as one of the best isometric exercises ever.

It activates the muscles of the upper body (pectoral, back, shoulders, abdominals), and helps to work some muscles of the lower body as well, such as the legs (mainly the quadriceps).

In the initial phase, why not do it with your knees on the floor?

How to perform:

  • Place your body in the plank position, support on the forearms (not on the hands), keep the abdomen and the glutes contracted and the back straight.

I don’t want to put you under pressure, but the world record for the plank is 8 hours. Do you dare?

Isometric squat

We’ve reached the top of isometric exercises. It could come before the plank, but the Isometric squat is an excellent exercise for the legs (with special emphasis on the quadriceps), lumbar and abdominal area.

It’s a good complement to leg training or to add to super series, allowing you to add even more intensity to leg training. You’ll feel your legs burning!

How to perform:

  • Put your back against a wall as if you were sitting (keep your legs at 90°), or squat/crouch without support. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and the knees aligned with the feet line. Maintain this position as long as possible!

Tip: How about inviting a fitness buddy and doing this exercise together? I know cases of people who spent 1 hour in this position!

In conclusion…

Isometric training is an excellent workout that you can do at home or at any other place. Only little material is needed and it offers numerous benefits, and it’s associated with the improvement of your performance and fitness.

It can also be used in physical rehabilitation training, mainly because it allows to fight muscular atrophy without the joints being compromised, something that, in case of injury or health problems linked to joint problems, can be decisive.

Try to do isometric training, and you’ll get incredible results.

Good training!

Isometrics: The Secret to Gaining Strength — Without Moving a Muscle

Ready to get started? Below are seven of our favorite isometric exercises to work your entire body.

1. Bent-over press against wall

Muscles worked: Shoulders

Start in a low lunge position. Place hands on the wall at about chest level. Lean into the wall and push. The farther down you bend, the more the exercise will target your shoulders. The more you stay upright, the more the exercise will target your chest.

Pro tip: Relax any tension stored in your face (like your brow and your jaw). Be sure to breathe throughout this exercise.

2. Prayer pose

Muscles worked: Chest

Place palms together. Your elbows can be flaring out or pointed toward the ground. Press your hands together. The tighter you press, the harder it will be.

Pro tip: Keep your shoulders level — raising them while you push can cause unnecessary strain.

3. High plank

Muscles worked: Core, back

Get into push-up position, making sure your spine is in a straight line. Press the floor away from you, broadening across your chest. Engage your core and breathe deeply.

Pro tip: Avoid lifting your butt too high or dropping your hips too low in this position.

4. Self-arm wrestling

Muscles worked: Biceps, triceps

Bend your right arm at a 90-degree angle. Grab your right hand with your left hand. Push them together as hard as you can. While your right biceps prevents your arm from dropping, your left triceps is trying to push your right arm down. Repeat on the other side.

Pro tip: People often tense their upper bodies in this position, so be sure to ease up on your shoulders.

5. Triceps extension against wall

Muscles worked: Triceps

Get into a lunge position with your fists on the wall at head level. Use your triceps to push your fists into the wall.

Pro tip: Avoid tensing your shoulders in this exercise. Also, don’t forget to breathe deeply.

6. Forearm plank

Muscles worked: Abs

Get into a forearm plank position. Keep spine is in a straight line and tighten abs as much as you can. Normally, people try to just hold this position, but contracting your abs will provide even more benefit for your core.

Pro tip: Instead of letting your butt fall down or hiking it too high, keep your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in line.

7. Low squat

Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, adductors

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat so thighs are parallel to the floor. Instead of just holding this position, try to squeeze your feet together. This will force your inner thigh muscles to contract even more.

Pro tip: One common mistake with this exercise is not sitting back far enough. To fix it, prevent your knees from going over your toes.

If you aren’t flexing for muscle size Why Not? There is a reason bodybuilders tense their muscles like crazy on stage and when they are asked to pose for a PR shot.

Not only does it allow them to hit the required poses, but it also pumps up the muscles, making them look fuller and thicker.

Remember when you were little and someone asked you to show off your muscles and you immediately sprang into a really bad “most muscular” pose?

Well good news, as flexing is not showing off, research shows it can increase muscle size (more below).

But what’s the point in flexing? Does it have any long lasting results?

Refer to the classic section in Pumping Iron when Arnold and Franco take a ballet class to improve their posing.

Ballet dancers are amazing at activating their muscles and holding them in pose for sustained periods of time.

Master this and you will hold poses longer without cramping and increase strength and flexibility.

It also helps with the mind muscle connection, and can make you hold poses longer than the competition on stage.

Gain 12% Increase In Muscle Size From Flexing

So does flexing build muscle then?

The European Journal of Sport conducted this 8 week research study on the effects of increasing the mind-muscle connection during bodybuilding routines, which involved contracting the targeted muscle groups over 3 training sessions per week.

Flex To 12% Bigger Muscles

On conclusion of the study the group that flexed increased their strength and muscle size by 12.4%. The group that didn’t made gains in the respect of 6.9%.

So the group that contracted their muscles hard during their sets made a 50% increase almost in muscle thickness and strength.

The mind muscle connection clearly works. Bodybuilders have been doing this religiously for decades. Some more so than others.

Tensing your muscles out of the gym helps you isolate and contract them more effectively during your workouts. More pain, more gain actually works in this case.

Is flexing a workout in itself? No, but it is an isometric exercise. It can have amazing potential during workouts. Bodybuilding is after all about isolating and creating tension in muscles fibers.

Hence why the name Flex is to bodybuilders what ego is to rock stars.

Why would you not flex if it can potentially shortcut your muscle building time by 50%? Research definitely points to the fact you can gain muscle by flexing, as long as you actually train as well!

Here at X Boom Fitness we believe less is more when it comes to muscle building and cardio.

Do more in less time.

Kick 10k to the kerb, Salvage your time, your life, your relationships, your marriage by spending time where it matters.

Ok when you are young you are No 1, but priorities change over time, and rightly so…

But there are beneficial reasons for flexing outside the gym. It all correlates with the mind-muscle connection. If you can isolate a muscle correctly and delimit all adjoining muscles during a set you are going to work that muscle harder.

If the muscle you are working, say the bicep, is doing most of the work it is going to grow significantly better than if you just haul the weight up like a peach-fuzz rookie.

If you are using momentum you are taking the pressure off the bicep. You are leaking energy and the slack is being taken up by the back, hips, shoulders and legs.

If you want your biceps to grow more effectively forget about performing standing cheat curls as your main set. Cut the weight, don’t swing for the fences and curl only with your biceps.

You can finish on cheat curls at the end, but remember they are called that for a reason. I’m not negating any potential gains but everything in its right place.

That’s why the 70’s arm blasters were great, they isolated your biceps. You can achieve the same almost by performing standing bicep curls against a wall or mirror.

Can You Build Muscle Alone Just By Flexing Muscles?

Not specifically. In order to build muscle you need to place a new load on the muscles. So what does flexing do to your muscles?

Flexing does temporarily make your muscles bigger, but they won’t get you any real muscle size gains unless you incorporate them into your workout rotine.

Bodybuilders will always prioritize flexing as it helps their muscles look fuller and can force out the striations and make them pop on stage when they pose. The more you flex the better you can deal with muscle cramps on stage, when the body has been stripped of it’s water supplies.

Flexing the muscles makes your body look more thick as the muscles swell up with blood. You can get a good pump by flexing your bicep. Keep repeating it and it will swell to it’s maximum size.

Once you get your frame to a large size onstage you will go through your flexing poses with maximum force to show off your physique to it’s highest level. If the guy standing next to you has superior muscle size, and conditioning, all the flexing in the world won’t beat him.

A flexed muscle looks bigger.

If you are close in symmetry, size and conditioning, onstage posing becomes a war. If you can’t hold poses long enough the judges may not see all the detail they need, all that quality muscle you have built that year. That’s another reason to practise.

Flexing to the extreme is tough. It can be painful, but you will get better at it the more you practise. Can you get stronger by flexing? I believe you can. Not just by the act of flexing, but if you can isolate and squeeze a muscle like crazy, and if you can do that with weight on the bar or machine, you will exert more force on it.

With the principles of time under tensions and perfect exercise form (to delimit any assisting muscles) you will work that muscle harder and for longer in every rep.

How Muscles Really Increase In Size

Away from the short term, your diet and calorie surplus will ensure your body uses the required amount of protein for synthesis into muscle.

The amount of protein and calories you need is specific to you, it’s a process of trial and error.

Some studies show it’s 1 pound of protein per pound of body weight, Others show it’s less- 0.8 lb, others more in the region of 1.5 lb.

For this you will have to use trial and error, get a calorie tracker and start counting your macros- the hardest part in bodybuilding or general muscle building routines.

Your body can only absorb up to 30g of protein in one sitting so taking 10 scoops of whey or eating 5 chicken fillets in one meal is not ideal.

Your body will still use the calories but it won’t be solely specific to building muscle if you cram so much protein into your body in a single sitting.

This extensive Government study shows that ideal protein absorption is between 1.6g to 2.2g per actual kg of body weight. It depends also on the type of protein whether it is fast absorbing or slow absorbing.

Slowly digestible proteins in larger doses may be better utilized than fast absorbing proteins.

There is a massive myth in the fitness industry that everything is about protein and how much you need.

Use trial and error and judge for yourself by adding more protein to your diet to see really how much extra makes a difference.

Protein consumption is usually always over estimated. By knowing the facts and testing it out on yourself you will find the ideal ratio for you.

If you take more than you need- especially from whey protein, it isn’t necessarily going to do much harm, except to your wallet and potentially to bloating and gas.

Whats The Best Time To Flex?

Coming up to a show you will have to flex out of the gym. Just so you get used to your routine, and to maximize your posing time, to avoid cramps and to add some class to your performance.

During the gym it depends. If you go all out crazy during your routine you can exhaust the muscle, and not get enough serious work in. Arnold liked to stretch his lats during his rest periods between sets.

He called them stretches but he was also tightening the lats, or flexing them to bring out his width and thickness.

There is no right time, unless you overplay your hand by flexing too much before you start your warm up sets.

I like to pose between sets or after my last set. Depends how i feel.

Flexing In The Mind Proven To Increase Muscle Force by Clinical Research

The Power of The Mind, a neurological research study by Ohio University concluded that by using visualization techniques you can create actually pathways in the brain than can make your physical flexing ability much better.

Just by thinking about flexing can cause you to use more muscle force when you actually get around to physically doing it.

How did the researchers find this out?

2 groups of people were used in the study. One group was asked to flex their wrist muscles for 10 minutes a day 5 x times a week for 4 weeks. The other did not.

The researches wanted to test the theory that the cortex was a factor responsible for determining muscle strength and force.

Yes it was, as the participants who flexed their wrists at the end of the study gained 50% more force production in their muscles, over those who didn’t visually flex.

So Arnold and Franco were on to something in the 70’s then. Some things you just know,

Not too get all too hocus-pocus but it makes sense that if you actually practise something in your mind first, when it comes to actually doing the work you are already prepared for it.

That’s why the mind game is so important in boxing, Olympic weightlifting or even business. Thinking before you act is what makes us human.

Flex Muscle Gains

Flexing will not necessarily help you build muscles as a routine, but it can help with definition and allow you to connect your mind to the muscle. Master this and you can exert more force on the working muscle, and minimize the help of surrounding muscle groups in your workouts.

By exerting as much force on the muscle during intense weight training movements, you will get quicker results, and maximize the amount of work the individual muscle is doing.

So NO extreme swaying movements if you want to excel at bodybuilding. Powerlifting and ego training is a different story…

Watch the mirror, watch the scales and judge for yourself. Or get a friend who understands physique transformations and bodybuilding to judge for you. Ok now go tense those muscles.

How to Flex Your Way to Six-Pack Abs

It was the summer of 1998. I was 12 years old at the time and a frequent visitor to the local public swimming pool. Our family was doing well that year so each of my siblings and I had a Summer pass. Wow, a Summer pass! I felt on top of the world. I went to the pool religiously every day, right when they opened. I remember many of the teenage boys and men there had chiseled abs and washboard stomachs. I was just starting to like girls at the time and it seemed like all the boys with the muscular physiques were getting more attention from the ladies than I was. As soon as I realized this, that was the beginning of my quest to get ripped.

I started lifting some free weights that my dad had lying around the garage. That helped a little, but I was still self-conscious of my stomach. Keep in mind I wasn’t overweight. I was a lean kid. I wanted a chiseled stomach though, so every day at the pool I would constantly flex my stomach. When I flexed, it looked like I had more definition than I actually did, but who could tell right? So I flexed constantly. I flexed when I walked, I flexed in the pool, I flexed when I was laying down. I started doing it so much, I even flexed when my shirt was on. It just became a habit.

What I didn’t realize at the time was all this flexing had led to greater definition. Now even when I didn’t flex, you could see an outline of my abs. This may not seem like much, but for me it this was exciting.

As my obsessive flexing continued, more and more of the six pack under all those layers of skin started to come through.

I’m not suggesting you go around flexing your stomach all day long, but just think about all the time you’re not doing anything where you could take advantage of this:

  • Standing in line at the grocery store
  • Waiting for coffee at Starbucks
  • At the crosswalk before the light turns green
  • Watching television
  • On the bus, on a train, on a plane (in a boat, with a goat. no, not really)
  • While you’re showering

Flexing and isometric exercise is proven to improve muscle definition. Now I’m not saying this is the fastest way to develop a six pack, it should be seen as an addition to your normal core workout. Obviously body fat percentage plays a big role as well. If you’re 50 pounds overweight, it doesn’t matter how much you flex, your abs aren’t going to show until you drop some weight. But if your body fat is at a healthy level you’ll see results within a few weeks.

When you flex your stomach, try to focus on the lower abdominals. Your obliques and lower abdominals are usually the hardest part of the stomach muscles to gain definition in. When you flex, try focusing as much on those sections of your muscles as much as possible. Don’t worry about the top and middle abs, you’ll naturally flex them anyway. It also helps when doing crunches, leg raises or butterflies to focus on the obliques and lower abs. Try to flex them as much as possible on each rep. Not only will you gain definition, but you’ll also be recruiting more muscle fibers. This improves your core strength and mind-body connection. Essentially, the more lesser-used muscles you can consciously control, the stronger you’ll be and the greater definition you’ll have.

Flexing any muscle on your body improves the mind-body connection and improves muscle memory. The more you flex, the more your body will think that’s the way you should naturally look.

Jonathan is the author of the blog Illuminated Mind. He writes about finding Authenticity, Clarity and Balance in all aspects of living. His articles include 5 Signs You’ve Married Your Problems (and how to divorce them) and The Cult of Productivity. You can subscribe to his blog here.

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Stretching And Flexing!

Most people don’t realize how important stretching really is. Or flexing, for that matter (though everyone loves to flex those big guns). I’ve talked to a lot of people, and basically everyone hates to stretch. In fact, bodybuilders have a rep for being “muscle bound”, or “inflexible”. Isn’t it about time to show them how wrong they are?

By now you have probably heard of Tom Platz, or Lee Priest. Lee Priest looks up to Platz because they both love to work their legs. You’ve seen how big Tom’s legs are, but did you realize he practically ties himself into a knot doing stretches because he is so flexible (meaning that sarcastically, though he is very flexible). I’m not saying you have to be that flexible to be a great bodybuilder.

Stretching also helps burn off calories. Yes, it even burns off calories, though very little. You would probably burn of about 75 calories an hour, which is not very much. But the main reason to stretch is because when you work out, you contract your muscles, and they become tight. You need to stretch to loosen them up and help them grow.

So right now I’m going to tell you how to stretch different parts of your body.

Neck: You have to be very careful when stretching the neck. Start off by putting your right arm behind your back, and hold it stationary with your left hand. Keeping your left hand holding your right arm down, try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder. Then do the same to your right. For the back of the neck, just put your hands together in the back of your neck, by pressing down gently and applying pressure while trying to pull your neck up.

Shoulders: To stretch your shoulders, you should have a partner. Have your partner stand right behind you, and hold on to your arms, bringing them straight up behind your back as far as they can go so you feel the pull (not when you feel real pain!). Keep your neck as far back as possible to stretch the shoulders to the max.

Triceps: Bending your arm, almost like flexing your biceps, bring your elbow as far back as you can above your head. Gently push the arm back with your free arm, stretching the triceps. Now do it to the other arm.

Biceps: Sitting on the ground, put both arms behind your back, with your palms flat on the floor facing your back, and lay as far back as you can without hurting yourself, but just stretching.

Your forearms are stretched along with your biceps in the biceps stretch.

Chest: Put your hands behind your back and lock them. Slowly bring them up like you did in the shoulder stretch.

Low Back: Sitting with both legs together straight out in front of you, bring one of those knees up, while the other leg is straight on the floor. Take the opposite arm of the side leg you have (right arm to left leg, left arm to right leg), and put your elbow against the outside part of your knee. Keeping the opposite leg straight out in front of you, try to look behind you, twisting your hips, really feeling your lower back stretch. Now do the other side.

High back: Getting in a position, as if doing a crunch with your hands behind you head, with your feet together straight out in front of you, try to bring your chin into your chest, stretching the high back.

Quads: Sitting down bend your legs as far as they can, calves going into your hamstrings, try to lay back as far as you can. You can also do this with one leg at a time, keeping the opposite leg straight on the ground.

Hamstrings: There are about a million and a half hamstring stretches, but the most effective, to me, is this one: While standing, bring one foot out in front of the other, a slight bend in the knee. Arch your back, spread your chest, and bend down as far as you can, really stretching those hamstrings. Do the other leg just the same.

Another hamstring stretch might look like this: Sit down, and spread your legs so that they are comfortable. Now bring your hands as far forward as possible. that really stretches your hams.

Calves: Put your hands against a wall, stand with one leg back, heel touching the ground, and lower your hips as far as they can go, really stretching the calves. Continue the same with the other leg.

Abs: Lay face down on the floor. Slowly bring your chest up as far as it can go, leaving the rest of your body the same, not moving at all.

Here are a few tips on stretching:

  • Don’t bounce: Bouncing causes you to pull muscles easier, and never really stretches the muscles. Your stretch should be very slow, and a smooth process.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds: Well, actually you should try to hold for 30 to 60 seconds, really working the muscles.
  • Stretch before and after workouts: If you jump right in to a workout, you increase your risk of pulling a muscle.
  • Don’t cheat yourself: If you use other muscles, you won’t get the muscles stretched very good.
  • I would say you should stretch for about 20-30 minutes before you workout.

Now, on to flexing! Flexing is much overlooked in bodybuilding. I don’t mean that people never flex, that would be a lie. It’s just, people think flexing is just for show. It is nice to show to all those girls, but flexing is a very important part of working out.

Flexing
Flexing helps bring blood to your muscles, really helping build them up. The more blood in your muscles, the more they have that pump to them. Have you ever worked out, and your muscles were twice their normal size? Another way to help blood into your muscles is breathing. Inhale on the way down, exhale when applying the force. Flexing also helps isolate the muscle you are training, to really work it. After I do a set of curls, and I flex for about 30 seconds, my arms hurt more than they did during my last rep! That is why flexing really helps your muscles.

Flexing also helps you control your muscles, which is great in a competition. Being able to flex what you want and when you want is a great thing to have. Being able to pump your muscles is also pretty cool.

Tips on flexing:

  • Flex after the set: After you finish a set, flex for about 30 seconds.
  • Don’t wait too long to start the next set, because you don’t want to lose your energy.
  • Flex as hard as you can: You can’t work your muscles with half-hearted effort.
  • Try to flex your entire body at once: This helps you control all your muscles at one time.

I hope this info helped.

Thanks,

Getting in shape usually means we have to lift burdensome dumbbells, bounce our asses around like crazy, and let our body sweat like a pig every after a workout. Not until this non-movement, muscle exercise has been discovered — that guarantees us a consequential strength.

This kind of training can tense up your muscles without moving. Welcome to the world of Isometrics Workout.

I may sound like a caveman, but trust me, I haven’t heard about this method of training, yet I’m buying it! In this article, we will break down the 7 best Full-Body Isometric exercises.

These exercises can be done anywhere without any heavy and weird equipment. You can do a wall squat whilst your favourite show on the telly is on.

Be that as it may, for some of us, all it takes in getting the motivation for a tough workout is a pair of shoes, some good music and a sufficient exercise area. Having said that, many require workout accessories to help us.

That’s why choosing the best workout accessories would be a big help.

What Is Isometric Exercise?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Isometric exercises are contractions of a particular muscle or group of muscles. During isometric exercises, the muscle doesn’t noticeably change length and the affected joint doesn’t move. Isometric exercises help maintain strength.

Isometric exercises can build strength, but not effective. It is because the exercises are done in one position without movement, they’ll improve strength in only one particular position.

Yet, according to our source, this method of training may be helpful to someone who has an injury. Someone who has arthritis, and it may also help lower your blood pressure.

7 Isometric Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

Maybe it’s time for you to take a break from lifting weights that could cause you muscle pains and doing intense workouts with too much equipment. You won’t be needing any equipment for these exercises.

You can do these Isometric exercises anywhere, even at your home! Shall we begin?

The following exercises and images below are courtesy of Active.

1. Bent-Over Press Against Wall

Start in a low lunge position and place hands on the wall at about chest level. Lean into the wall and push.

The farther down you bend, the more exercises you will target your shoulders. The more you stay upright, the more the exercise will target your chest.

2. Prayer Pose

Place your palms and hands together. The tighter you press, the harder it will be.

This exercise is perfect for your chest.

3. High Plank

Get into the top of a push-up position and make sure that your spine is straight. Focus on tensing your upper back muscles as tight as you can.

This will target your core and back.

4. Self Arm Wrestling

Bend your right arm at a 90-degree angle, then grab your right hand with your left hand. Push them together as hard as you can.

Whilst your right biceps is preventing your arm from dropping, your left triceps are trying to push your right arm down. Then repeat on the other side.

5. Triceps Extensions Against Wall

Get into a lunge position with your fist on the wall levelling your head. Use your triceps to push your fists into the wall.

6. Forearm Plank

Get in a forearm plank position and make sure that your spine is straight. Tighten abs as hard as you can.

Normally, when people do this position they simply try to hold it with the strength coming from their biceps and arms. Little did they know, contracting your abs will provide even more benefits for your core.

This exercise is perfect for your abs.

7. Low Squat

Stand with your feet about a shoulder-width apart. You need to squat down so your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Instead of just holding this position, try to squeeze your feet together. This will force your inner thigh muscles to contract even more.

This exercise is perfect for your glutes, quads and abductors.

Perform 3 reps of each exercise, contracting for 10 seconds each rep. If your goal is fat loss, use less force (60 to 70 per cent of your max contraction) and take short rest periods between 20 to 30 seconds.

If you’re doing it for strength and muscle growth, you should use more force (80 to 90 per cent of your max contraction) and take longer rest periods between sets (45 to 60 seconds).

Isometric Exercises for Huge Strength Gains | Examples & Workout Plan

June 23, 2019 2 Comments

The ultimate guide to isometric exercises.

Question: What’s something martial artist Bruce Lee and old-time strongman Alexander Zass have in common?

Answer: Isometric Training.

Both icons placed great importance on strength.

Lee and Zass understood that to reach their maximum strength potential, they needed to do more than a “typical” workout – i.e. squats, bench press, deadlifts (eccentric/concentric exercises). They experimented and learned how to recruit more muscle fibers, which ultimately lead to significant increases in their strength.

One of the most important methods that they employed to boost their strength were isometric exercises…

Nowadays, isometrics have a concrete place in the fitness world, and it is a well-respected training aspect that can greatly develop certain physical attributes.

We have people like Bruce Lee and Alexander Zass along with many modern fitness professionals to thank for that.

If you have any confusion or questions about isometrics, or you simply just want to learn some isometric exercises, then get ready, as we are going to cover everything you need to know about isometrics in this article…

This includes:

  • What exactly are isometrics?
  • Types of isometric exercises
  • Isometric exercise benefits
  • Joint angles relating to isometrics
  • Tips when performing isometric exercises
  • Isometric exercises examples (including bodyweight, resistance band, and steel mace isometric exercises)
  • Isometric workout examples
  • How to incorporate isometric exercises into your training program
  • And…we will finish this off by answering more frequently asked questions about isometrics in a sound bite manner.

If you want to see the best results, you need to go about isometric training the right way.

So, contract your muscles (brain muscles) to allow your knowledge on isometrics to get a whole lot stronger…

Without further ado, let’s begin.

What are isometric exercises?

First, let’s point out that there are three types of muscle contractions:

Concentric contractions, which is when your muscle tenses while shortening, thus generating force. For example, the upward movement of a bicep curl.

Eccentric contractions, which is when your muscle lengthens, returning from a shortened position. This also generates force and tension. Essentially this is the “negative” movement of an exercise (i.e downward motion).

And, finally, isometric contractions, which means to produce tension in a single position, rather than through a range of movement. So, when performing isometrics, you are contracting your muscles and producing force without moving. For example, if you were to hold a bicep curl in place, halfway through the lift, for say 30 seconds, that would be an isometric contraction/hold.

Now, before we get into the benefits of isometrics, it’s important to know the different types of isometric exercises.

Types of Isometric Exercises

There are essentially two types of isometrics:

1. Yielding Isometrics:

This is when you hold a weight in a fixed position. It can be free weights, weight machines, or elastic/cable equipment. An example of a yielding isometric is holding a squat at parallel for 20-60 seconds.

Yielding exercises also include your own body structure. For example, holding a push up position, holding a pull up position, planks, handstands, and yoga poses.

2. Overcoming Isometrics:

This is when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. It involves pushing or pulling against the resistance of an object that absolutely won’t move.

Here are some examples:
– Pushing against a wall or tree.
– Putting a machine or free weight to a weight that you can’t lift (in the slightest) and attempting to push or pull it as you would with a lighter weight. So, imagine putting a cable machine all the way to its maximum setting and trying to do a cable fly….or taking a barbell and adding tons of plates and trying to a deadlift…or even trying to bend a steel bar with your bare hands.

Typically overcoming isometric exercises are done for a shorter time than yielding isometrics. It’s usually recommended to do 6-10 second sets of an overcoming isometric exercise. That said, some coaches recommend longer durations if you can. In any case, start with what you can and as you improve, you can increase the time.

Advanced Isometrics

Explosive or Ballistic Isometrics – During a standard isometric exercise, your muscle contraction and tension will build up as the time goes on during a set, but with explosive isometrics, you attempt to immediately contract to maximum tension.

After you’ve been training isometrics for a while, you can try this advanced isometric exercise method.

These are just a few ways to practice overcoming and yielding isometrics, we have many exercise examples below.

Isometric Exercise Benefits

At this point, you are probably wondering, “what exactly are the benefits of isometric exercises?”

Let us explain…

Increasing Strength

This is the benefit we want to touch on the most as isometric exercises are known for improving strength. This is because isometrics will train us to increase muscle fiber recruitment.

Naturally, most people can only use around 30% of their muscle fiber recruitment potential. So, this type of training aims to increase that percentage…and it has been proven to do so.

Isometric training will allow you to have greater control of your muscle fiber recruitment during sports or other activities like powerlifting. It is truly an effective way to rapidly increase your strength and power.

Increase Muscle Endurance

Yielding isometrics are good for increasing muscle endurance as they train your muscle to be able to stay under tension for longer.

Rehabilitation

If you are recovering from a joint or muscle injury, isometric exercises can allow you to strengthen the joints and the muscle around the joint without causing too much strain. Typically people have an issue with eccentric and concentric lifts when recovering from injury. This usually due to a lack of mobility or pain in the joint area. So, isometrics can help you regain and maintain your strength and mass without all the stress on your joints that comes with full range of movement exercises.

Building Muscle

There is some controversy on this, and generally isometrics aren’t used to build muscle, but after studying this topic in-depth, we do believe you can induce hypertrophy with isometrics.

For yielding isometrics, if you want to build muscle, it is recommended that you hold 70-80% of your concentric working weight in place for around 60 seconds. If you do this, you should be able to build muscle.

For overcoming isometrics, if you want to build muscle, it is recommended that you increase tension time. So, instead of doing 6-10 seconds, do 40, 50 or 60 seconds if you can (note, most people just starting out with overcoming isometrics won’t last more than 15 seconds). Put simply, more time under tension at maximum effort is ideal.

Building a Solid Foundation

Isometric exercises are fantastic for beginners as they can help you build a solid foundation. They will increase your strength, so when it comes time for concentric/eccentric exercises, you can lift more weight.

Also, isometric exercises will increase your core strength, and some isometrics will increase your core stability (such as split squat isometric holds). As your core is the center of your foundation, this is very important.

Improve your mind to muscle connection

By tensing certain muscle groups, and moreover, specific muscles in each muscle group, you will build a strong mind-muscle connection.

Joint Position

It’s important to note that strength increase will be focused on a single joint position, so, you will want to do isometric exercises at multiple joint angles.

For example, if you are performing an isometric push up, you will want to do holds at the top, middle and bottom position. That way you can build strength at all points in the movement.

Note: Studies have shown that some strength increases spill over to the rest of the range of movement and muscle. It’s around 20% improvement in the ranges that you aren’t targeting specifically. So, for example, if you are holding the bottom of your push up, you will see around 20% increases in the middle and top portion of the movement.

In any case, you are going to want to train multiple joint angles so you can get even strength gains in the entire range of movement.

Tips when doing Isometric Exercises

  • Make sure you are breathing throughout your sets. When contracting your muscles, naturally you may want to hold your breath. So, always remind yourself to breathe.
  • Don’t put your spine or joints at risk. Always use proper form when performing isometric exercises. If your form starts to give before your set time, stop. Moreover, you will be tempted to bring your chin down to your chest, try not to do this as it puts too much strain on your neck.
  • If you are doing exhaustive isometric training, don’t train the same exercises or muscle groups every day. You won’t get sore like you will with exercises that move through a range of motion, but your body, or more specifically your nervous system, will still need time to recover. There are smart tools you can buy to monitor your nervous system and physical readiness, that way you know what kind of workout you should do that day. If your readiness score is low, then you should be doing a low-intensity workout rather than a high-intensity workout.
  • If your goal is to lose fat, then use less force, hold the exercises for longer, and take less rest time. If your goal is to build strength, then use maximum force (build up to it) and take longer rest periods between sets.

Isometric Exercises Examples

Now we are going to give you some exercise examples for both overcoming and yielding isometrics.

Overcoming Isometric Exercise Examples:

Wall Press

Stand with one foot forward. Have a slight bend in your knee on your front leg and your back leg should be straight. Push the wall as hard as you can. This exercise is pretty straight forward, push the wall with as much force as you can. The form should come naturally to you.

Use different joint angles by bending your arms and bringing your body in closer to the wall.

Note: This also works on a tree.

Door Frame Press

Stand straight, hips shoulder width apart, neutral spine – as you would a standing military press – and press your palms up into the door frame.

Use different joint angle by using a chair. With this your knees may need to bend, this is ok, so long as you maintain a neutral spine.

Note: You can push the sides of the door frame too to target different shoulder and arm muscles.

Deadlift

Your form will be the same as a normal deadlift. Use a squat rack and safety bars so the barbell can’t pull past the safety bars. Once the barbell meetings the bottom of the safety bar, you pull with all your might while maintaining form.

You can change your joint angle by raising or lowering the safety bar.

Note: You don’t need any weight on the barbell for this. The force will come from you trying to pull through the safety bars.

Squat

Your form will be the same as a normal squat, but you will be starting from the bottom position. Use a squat rack and safety bars so the barbell can’t push past the safety bars. Once the barbell meetings the bottom of the safety bar, you push with all your might while maintaining form.

You can change your joint angle by raising or lowering the safety bar.

Note: You don’t need any weight on the barbell for this. The force will come from you trying to pull through the safety bars.

Bench Press

Your form will be the same as a normal bench press, but you will be starting from the bottom position. Use a squat rack and safety bars so the barbell can’t push past the safety bars. Once the barbell meetings the bottom of the safety bar, you push with all your might while maintaining form.

You can change your joint angle by raising or lowering the safety bar.

Note: You don’t need any weight on the barbell for this. The force will come from you trying to pull through the safety bars.

Cable Machine Chest Fly

Set the cable machine all the way to the heaviest weight. This will only work if you are completely unable to move the heaviest weight. Hold the handles and get into a chest fly position. Attempt to perform a chest fly as you would normally. Of course, you won’t be able to, so maintain this starting position with full contraction for the set time.

You can change the joint angle by changing the cable handle’s position (top, middle, bottom, which will work your upper, middle and lower chest).

Seated Back Row Machine

For this one, most of us will want to use a machine that uses weight plates as the machines that use cables will likely not be heavy enough. Set enough weights on both sides so that you can move it when you attempt your row.

You can your joint angle by sitting closer or further away.

Standing Calf Press Machine

Set the machine to its maximum weight and attempt a calf press as you would normally.

You can change position by raising the shoulder pads that you press into up or down.

Immovable Chain Curls

Anchor a chain or rope to an immovable point, attach the chain to a bar and try to curl it.

You can change the joint angle by making the chain shorter or longer and bending your knees or even kneeling so long as you aren’t putting too much pressure on your knees.

Here is Bruce Lee doing just that.

Bending Steel

Try to bend the steel using your bare hands.

Here is Alexander Zass doing just that.

Towel and Rope

There are many ways you can use towels and ropes for overcoming isometrics. At this point, you clearly understand how to train overcoming isometrics. Both towels and ropes are great as they can be applied in many ways.

Use your creativity as there are tons of ways you can do overcoming exercises. Just be safe!

Also, remember to train different joint angles. For squats, bench and deads, this is when a squat rack is crucial.

Yielding Isometrics Using Weights:

For the following exercises, you will use the same form as you do normally with a full range of movement.

Train each exercise at different joint angles, which is essentially just different points in your range of movement. So, the top position, middle position, and bottom position of each exercise.

This is pretty straight forward, you are just holding each joint angle for a set time (20-60 seconds)

  • Bicep Curl
  • Shoulder press
  • Dumbbell Holds (side and front)
  • Bench press
  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Triceps extensions
  • Leg Raise Holds
  • Calf Press on Smith Machine
  • Leg Press Machine Holds

These are just a few of many yielding isometrics exercises that you can do. Basically, every exercise can be turned into a yielding isometric by simply holding a position.

Now, let’s get into some of our favorite isometrics – bodyweight, resistance band and steel mace isometric exercises.

Bodyweight Yielding Isometric Exercises:

Resistance Band Yielding Isometrics:

Tip: You can create more or less tension with the resistance bands by how you hold them, how far you stretch the band from an anchor point, how you position your feet, etc. One band will have a range of tension.

For example, our yellow band, which is .5” wide, can produce 5-15lbs of tension depending on how you position it.

Play around with them so you can find the right amount of tension needed.

Steel Mace Isometric Exercises:

One of the great things about steel mace isometric is that because the steel mace has an offset weight, it is going to challenge your core stability, which will require you to recruit more muscles to maintain stability. So, even though these exercises are targeting a specific muscle group, you will be working your entire body. Your core is going to challenged and strengthened like it’s nobodies business.

Moreover, because the mace is a lever, you will be able to tense your muscles even more by pulling your hands apart on the lever. This will help you to produce maximum tension. We like to cue our clients by saying “rip the mace head off”, which essentially just means pull your hands outward while gripping the handle to increase tension.

Did you know the Great Gama – the Indo-Pakistani wrestler who remained undefeated champion of the world – put tons of focus into isometrics. Moreover, his favorite training tool was a mace (or Gada as they call it in India).

Learn how to use a steel mace like a pro with our 84-page steel mace training e-guide. It includes hand placement, grip orientation, hand switches, tons of exercises from beginner to advance, how to create steel mace complexes, workouts, and more.

Steel Mace Isometric Workout:

You can create a workout for your full body, upper body, lower body, or a single muscle group. So, choose 5-6 exercises according to the area(s) you want to train.

Here are two simple methods for creating a steel mace isometric workout.

Traditional Style:

Do each exercise for 3 sets (different joint angles for each set)

Each set should be 30-60 seconds.

Rest for 1 minute between sets

After 3 sets of one exercise, move to the next exercise.

or…

Circuit Style

Do each exercise consecutively. Each exercise should be a 30-60 second hold. After you complete all 5 exercises, repeat for 2 more rounds.

You can either do 10-20 seconds each joint angle during each exercise, or focus on one joint angle each round.

Complexes

Create a steel mace complex (a sequence of movements) and add in short isometric holds. This will technically be a mix of eccentric, concentric and isometric exercises all in one.

Perform the complex for as long as you can. This will make the total isometric hold time quite high and this kind of workout is absolutely killer.

Watch SET FOR SET’s CEO Sam Coleman do a Steel Mace Complex with Isometric Holds

6 Steel Mace Complex Workouts for Burning Fat

Isometric Workout Examples

There are numerous ways we can go about making an isometric workout. We will take from the exercises above to create a few different isometric-only workout examples.

1. Full Body Isometric Workout

3 sets for each exercise.

30-60 seconds of contraction each set.

Perform exercises at 3 joint angles, if it applies (we will make note) – one angle for each set, for a total of 3 sets.

Complete exercise 1 for 3 sets, then move to exercise 2 for 3 sets, then exercise 3 for 3 sets, and so on.

Exercise 1: Push up (set 1 top position; set 2 middle position; set 3 bottom position)

Exercise 2: Pull up (set 1 bottom position; set 2 middle position; set 3 top position)

Exercise 3: Boat Pose

Exercise 4: Squat (set 1 top position ; set 2 middle position; set 3 bottom position )

Exercise 5: Side Plank (left), Side Plank (right), Regular Plank.

Exercise 6: Split Squat (set 1 top position; set 2 middle position; set 3 bottom position)

Exercise 7: Handstands (set 1 lockout position, set 2 arms slightly bent, set 3 arms at 90 degrees)

2. Upper body Circuit Isometric Workout

For each circuit, perform each exercise consecutively until all the exercises in the circuit are completed. Furthermore, perform different joint angles consecutively for each exercise.

Then rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the same circuit for 2 to 3 rounds before moving onto the next circuit.

Note: any of these exercises can be changed out for another exercise if you don’t have the necessary equipment.

Circuit 1 (yielding isometrics):

Exercise 1: Dips (20 seconds top, 20 seconds middle, 20 seconds bottom – total 60 seconds each round)
Exercise 2: Plank (60 seconds)
Exercise 3: Chin up (20 seconds bottom position, 20 seconds middle, 20 seconds top – total 60 seconds each round)

Circuit 2 (overcoming isometrics):

Exercise 1: Wall Push – targeting chest (3 joint angles for 10 seconds each)
Exercise 2: Immovable Chain Curl (or towel) (3 joint angles for 10 seconds each)
Exercise 3: Bent Over Wall Push – targeting your shoulders (3 joint angles for 10 seconds each)

Circuit 3 (yielding and overcoming isometrics):

Exercise 1: Overcoming Row, use a machine, towel, rope or chain attached to a bar to pull from a seated row position (3 joint angles for 10-20 seconds each)
Exercise 2: Boat Pose (60 seconds)
Exercise 3: One Arm One Leg Plank (30 seconds left hand/right foot up, 30 seconds right hand/left foot up)

This isometric circuit workout can be lower body, full body or a specific muscle group as well, so long as you insert the appropriate exercises that target the different muscle groups accordingly.

3. Full Body Circuit Isometric Training

Perform each exercise consecutively until all the exercises in the circuit are completed. Furthermore, perform each hold (i.e. top, middle, bottom) consecutively during each exercise.

Then rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat for 2 more rounds.

Note: any of these exercises can be changed out for another exercise if you don’t have the necessary equipment.

Exercise 1: Pull ups (20 seconds bottom position; 20 seconds middle position; 20 seconds top position)
Exercise 2: Bench press at 70% of your full range of movement working weight (20 seconds bottom, 20 seconds middle, 2 seconds top).
Exercise 3: Barbell Curl at 70% of your full range of movement working weight (20 seconds bottom, 20 seconds middle, 20 seconds top)
Exercise 4: Side Plank (30 seconds each side)
Exercise 5: Plank (60 seconds)
Exercise 6: DB Shoulder Press at 70% of your full range of movement working weight (20 seconds bottom, 20 seconds middle, 2 seconds top).
Exercise 7: DB Overhead Tricep Extensions at 70% of your full range of movement working weight (20 seconds bottom, 20 seconds middle, 2 seconds top).

4. Yielding Isometrics – 1-minute ON 1-minute OFF

Choose 10 exercises and perform each exercise once (at multiple angles if it applies to the exercise), then rest for 1 minute and move to the next exercise. Your workout is complete once you finish all 10 exercises. This will make for a 20-minute workout.

5. Overcoming Isometrics – Every Minute On The Minute

Choose either 10, 5 or 2 exercises, and perform each for a set time every minute on the minute. Your rest time will be from the time you end the set until the next minute begins. So if you do 10-second sets, you will have 50 seconds of rest.

As for how many total sets you will do, if you choose 10 different exercises, you will be doing each exercise once. If you choose 5 different exercises, you will be doing each exercise twice. If you choose 2, you will be doing each exercise 5 times.

How to incorporate isometric exercises and workouts into your training program

First, you can mix isometrics into your current workouts as follows:

  • Do Isometric holds before or after your full range of movement sets.
  • Do isometric holds during every rep, few reps, or at the end of a set.
  • Do an isometric finisher at the end of your workout.

Now, let’s say you want to separate isometric training into its own workout, then you could incorporate it into your training plan a few ways, depending on the intensity of your isometric workout.

Sub Maximal Iso Training

First, if you are doing sub maximal isometric workouts, you can do them pretty much every day.

You could do two-a-days if you have the time and energy. That way you can keep your normal training plan going as is and throw some isometric workouts in here and there during the week.

If you workout 4-5 times a week, you could fit in 2 sub maximal isometric training days on the days you would normally rest. A sub maximal isometric workout should only take around 20 minutes, so this is a great way to stay active on those days off.

Now, if you want to keep those rest days completely workout free and you don’t want to do a few two-a-days each week, you can change up your training plan as follows:

  • Upper body/cardio
  • Lower body/abs
  • Upper body Isometric Workout
  • Lower body isometric Workout
  • Rest
  • Repeat.

or…

  • Upper body/cardio
  • Lower body/abs
  • Full body Isometric Workout
  • Rest
  • Repeat

or…

  • Chest/Back
  • Arms/Abs
  • Full body isometric workout
  • Legs
  • Rest
  • Cardio
  • Repeat

High-Intensity Iso Training

Now, if you are doing high intensity, exhausting Iso workouts, you should do them once or twice a week with optimal rest between. If your training plan is already very strenuous, opt for 1 day of high-intensity iso training and do it on a day where you have an easier day that follows. So for example, do your high-intensity isometrics the day before a rest day or the day before a cardio day.

Your training may look like this:

  • Upper Body/Cardio
  • Lower Body
  • Iso Training
  • Rest/Flexibility
  • Upper Body/Yoga
  • Lower Body/Cardio
  • Iso Training

That’s a tough week, but with this kind of plan you are truly hitting essentially every important aspect of fitness

There are so many ways you can set up your training program. If you want help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

FAQ About Isometric Exercises

Here are some sound bite answers to some common questions about isometric exercises:

Can I do isometric exercises every day?

This depends on the intensity of your isometric exercises.

If you are doing sub maximal isometrics, you can do them every day.

If you are doing weighted, exhausting isometrics, you should do them once or twice a week at most.

And if you are simply just contracting your muscles using your own body’s force (you can do these as often every 1-2 hours) – this is effective for calorie depletion.

Do isometric exercises burn fat?

As with any workout, you will a burn certain amount calories. The amount of calories depends on the level of intensity.

Is Yoga Isometric Training?

Basically, yoga is a type of isometric training. Yoga involves a lot of static positions and holds. So, put simply, yoga incorporates a lot of isometric exercises.

Who are isometric exercises good for?

Anyone who is looking to increase their strength and people who are recovering or trying to prevent injuries.

At SFS, we use isometrics mostly for strength purposes. The steel mace and resistance bands are one of our favorite tools to do so.

Steel Maces because the lever allows you to really use maximum tension and it will also train your core strength and stability because of its uneven weight distribution.

And, Resistance Bands because they offer resistance from any angle. You only need elasticity not gravity to create tension. This allows you to have much more versatility in the exercises you can perform, especially exercises in the transverse plane (i.e. anti-rotation isometric holds).

Where can you buy Steel Maces?

7, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 pound steel maces available at SET FOR SET.

Where can you buy Resistance Bands?

High Quality Power Resistance Bands from SET FOR SET.

If you have any question about isometric exercises, please shoot us an email or leave a comment below.

2 Responses

DAVID SMITH

July 24, 2019

Very useful information. FABULOUS ! Thanks

CHARLES ATKINSON

August 13, 2019

Love isometric training

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You’re going to love this: One way to get a slimmer figure is by simply standing still. We’re talking about a strength-training style workout called isometrics, which can sculpt muscle and tone your whole body thanks to a training technique that barely even requires you to move.

Here’s how it works: Instead of lifting and lowering your body or a weight, isometrics is about holding yourself in a fixed spot, says Ashley Ntansah, training manager at Club H Fitness in Hoboken, New Jersey, who designed this workout. “It not only creates definition but also strengthens the smaller muscles, which have to work harder to keep you stabilized.” Even better, most of these exercises don’t require equipment—many of the moves only require your body weight.

Do this total-body workout three days a week. Starting with the first isometric exercise, hold the position for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and then repeat the exercise three to five more times.

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1. Plank With Glute Squeeze

Illustration by McKibillo

Lie facedown on the floor, prop yourself up on your forearms, and flex your toes. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Contract your abs and glutes—tightly. Hold.

2. Isometric Lateral Raise

Illustration by McKibillo

Hold a two-to five-pound dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging straight down at your sides, palms facing in. Slowly raise your arms until they are in line with your shoulders. Hold.

3. T-stabilization

Illustration by McKibillo

Start in a pushup position, then shift your weight onto your right hand and rotate your chest to the left as you raise your left arm toward the ceiling, feet stacked together. Hold, then return to start and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.

4. Isometric Wall Squat

Illustration by McKibillo

Stand and squeeze a stability ball between your lower back and a wall. Lower into a squat (as if you’re sitting into a chair), letting the ball roll up your back until your knees are bent 90 degrees. Push down into your heels and hold.

How to tone your body without weights?

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