What the hell made me think of doing isometrics?
In the last two weeks I’ve spent over 24 hours in my car, gallivanting up and down I95. First thing I noticed is that the whole open road mentality most truckers romanticize is a bunch of bullshit.
The second thing I recognized is that even if I got to my destination with enough time to hit the track, the gym or even bust out my kettlebells, I just couldn’t do it. After sitting for that long, not eating or drinking and just trying to get where I’m going, when I finally got there all I wanted to do was down a shit ton of water and go to sleep.
So I worked out in the car…
Enter Isometric Exercises
What the hell is an isometric exercise?
Basically isometric exercises are ones that are done where the muscle length does not change. You produce force, but nothing moves. Either you’re holding against the resistance (yielding isometrics) or you’re pushing against an immovable object (overcoming isometrics).
A plank is an isometric. A flexed arm hang (top portion of a pullup) is an isometric. Sucking in your gut when a girl walks by on the beach is an isometric.
Benefits of Isometrics
From my examples above, the first benefit is that you can do them anywhere. At the conference table during a board meeting or doing 95mph down I95 rocking out to Ke$ha…I mean Metallica…yeah, Metallica…trying get home at a decent hour.
They don’t require you to go through a full range of motion, so you don’t need a lot of space to do them.
Head to Toe Isometric Exercises
Take a free hand and put it above your right ear. Now contract your neck and push your head into your hand. You aren’t looking to move your hand, so push back into your head with an equal amount of resistance. Once you’re done with the right side, do the left, front and rear also.
If you’re driving, grab the steering wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. If you’re not driving, place your hands in front of you like you’re giving yourself a high five. Push against the steering wheel (making sure not to swerve like a drunk) or your hands and feel the contraction in your chest, shoulders and triceps.
You’ve done a plank right? Now you’re doing a sitting “plank”. Sit up straight, like you actually have good posture, and pull your belly button in as far as you can. Think like you’re trying to make you’re belly button and spine touch. Once you have it pulled in as far as you can you will squeeze your abs just like you do in a plank.
This one is different one that I got from John Romaniello, author of the incredible Final Phase Fat Loss program. Take a deep breath, making sure you’re breathing with your gut and not you’re chest. To do that just take a few practice breaths pushing your stomach out instead of expanding your chest. Of course wikipedia has a good break down of how to do this.
Once you’re able to breath with your belly, you will close your mouth and push your tongue forward against your teeth. The goal is to breath out forcefully by contracting your abs and have your tongue and teeth act as the resistance. When you exhale you should be making a “ttttssssttttt’ sound. Squeeze your abs until you’ve exhaled all of the air from your lungs.
Hokay, unless you’re a porn star you’ve probably never thought about working this muscle. Well, if you like making sexy time you should listen up. The PC muscle runs the pubic bone to the tail bone and controls urinary flow and is the muscle that contracts during orgasm. A strong PC muscle means stronger Os (in both sexes) and harder erections for the fellas.
To do them just squeeze like you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. If you don’t know for sure what this feels like head to the bathroom and do some trial runs.
These ones are super easy. Just squeeze your glutes like you’re trying to hold a penny between your cheeks. You should rise up an inch or two when fully contracted. Keep trying to raise higher and higher with each contraction.
Normally I don’t like breaking down the legs into muscle groups, but with isometric exercises it has to happen. To work the quads you have two options.
Option 1, if you have something to resist against, is to place your foot or shin against the object and try to lift it up by flexing your quad. This is the exact same motion you’d use for a leg extension machine except you’re not actually moving anything.
Option 2, if you have the room to fully extend your leg, you’ll do just that and squeeze your quad as hard as you can. That’s it. Too easy.
With the quads, we tried to duplicate the leg extension. With the hamstrings we’ll try to duplicate the leg curl. To do an isometric exercise for the hamstrings take a seat (if you’re not already there) and dig your heel into the floor/ground in front of you. Now flex your hamstring and pull with all your might like you’re trying to dig your heel deeper and deeper while pulling it towards you.
Calves are like glutes in that they’re easy and I’m not going to waste words trying to explain them. Point your toes down as far as they’ll go and then keep flexing and trying to make them point farther. You’ll feel your calves contract harder the more you try to point them down.
Final words on Isometric Exercises
For all of these exercise you should be aiming first for three sets of 20-30 seconds. Once you’re able to get a gold, solid contraction for at least 30 seconds you can start holding for longer and longer. This workout isn’t going to make you turn into Ronnie Coleman over night. But it will let you get a bit more low intensity work in though out the day or on a long ass drive when you have nothing else to do.