Isometric training is a highly preferred form of training these days, the reason being they can be performed anywhere with a minimum amount of resources. You can even add them to your normal strength training routine to notice massive results in your gains.
Don’t we see people in the gym working out only the upper body and neglecting the lower body? Here’s a fact if you do the same: working out your lower body will, in fact, improve the results in your upper body, and you will achieve a better symmetry in physique.
There are many exercises, the best one being the squats, followed by the leg press, quad extensions, calf extensions and so on. If you have been noticing little results in your quads and hamstrings, consider incorporating isometric exercises in your workout routine.
Exercise 1: Wall sittings
- Bend your knees at 90 degrees and keep your back straight against a wall. The ideal level of your thighs should be as if you are seated on a chair. Thighs should be almost parallel to the floor.
- Apply a pushing force on the wall with your back and flex your quadriceps. Ensure that the glutes, lower and upper body are all fixated against the wall. It will exert more pressure on the target muscle group.
- Hold this position for 4-12 seconds and do 5-6 sets of these.
- Make sure you exhale and inhale fully while doing this.
- Slowly raise yourself to the original position. You will feel the burn in your leg muscles as you go up, at this juncture pay attention to your breaths.
Another variation of this is the one legged wall sitting. Raise one leg up and hold that in the air. Initially, you will wobble in this position, with practice the hold time will increase.
Pay attention to your breathing. A good way of breathing is to breathe fully through the diaphragm and make a “hissing” sound to release the breath.
Exercise 2: Isometric straight leg hold
Here’s another basic exercise, but very powerful to tone your quads.
- Sit on a chair and extend your legs straight in front of your body and hold them in that position for about 30-45 seconds. You will feel the blood rushing in your muscles.
- Repeat for 3-4 more sets. This seems very easy but is very effective in strengthening the muscles in your legs.
Leg muscles are the largest muscle groups in the human body. There will be considerable blood rush when you work them out. Note that these exercises raise your blood pressure considerably. So if you have high blood pressure or hypertension issues, consult a doctor before performing isometric leg exercises.
The advanced variation of this is where you suspend your body between two chairs and lift your legs straight up.
Exercise 3: Isometric hamstring curls
- Sit in a comfortable chair and push your legs as if you are trying to reach your glutes with your legs.
- Stretch as far as you can. Adding tension to your glutes will make the exercise more effective.
- Once you reach the maximum possible position, hold it for about half a minute.
- Relax and come back to the initial position.
- Do one or two more sets as per your strength. Note if you hamstrings start to cramp, stop this exercise immediately. Don’t stretch beyond the point where you feel a catch.
Once you get used to this exercise, try using resistance bands to increase the load on your muscles.
Exercise 4: Static lunges
- Assume a normal lunge position, situate the thigh parallel to the floor and the other leg away.
- Hold the lunge position for 30-45 seconds. Perform two more sets.
Isometric lunges are a great strengthening exercise for the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Here’s a variation of static lunges, named yoga lunges, where you raise your hands straight up and stretch your hamstrings.
Exercise 5: Isometric squats
- Position yourself in the squat position, with your back straight and thighs parallel to the ground.
- Hold the squat position for 30-45 seconds. Inhale and exhale deeply to feel more burn in your muscles.
Static squats are a common exercises used by athletes and sportsmen to strengthen the leg muscles. So if you are into running and sports, these will accentuate your strength like no other exercise. Once you have practiced the static squat enough, hold a kettlebell to increase the resistance.
You can also perform static Sumo squats, where your feet are spaced out wider the than the hip width and toes are pointing outwards.
Exercise 6: One legged static squat
- Assume a squat position with your glutes and right thigh almost reaching for the floor. Extend the left leg straight in front of you and extend your arms forward so that you have adequate balance to stay in that position.
- Breath properly and hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Do the same with the other leg.
- It Is an advanced variation of the static squats and should be done only after you have built sufficient strength in your leg muscles.
Exercise 7: Isometric contractions
- With your feet together, place the hands at each side and take a forward step with your right leg, wider enough than the normal lunge position.
- Situate your hands on the inside of the extended right foot. Extend the left leg as far as you can and hold the contraction for 10-15 counts.
- Release and repeat for the other leg. Perform a total of 2-3 sets.
Exercise 8: Isometric leg presses
- To start this exercise, suspend two straps against the ceiling and hold on to the straps with your feet as you lie down on your back against the gym mat.
- Pull your body up, by approximately 25-40 degrees angle, and hold the position for 20-30 seconds. Squeeze your quads and hamstrings to amp up the intensity.
You can perform this exercise with the leg press machine too. Use a suitable weight and bring down the weights, holding the resistance at a static position where you will feel the burn in your muscles.
There is no need to perform all these exercises in one day. You can variate between the exercises as per your choice. Ensure you do 4-5 exercises to notice significant strength results in your leg muscles.
The best part about isometric leg exercises is, it is great for people with knee and joint pains in the leg.
Consider doing these exercises especially if you are focusing on strength gains and endurance. If you are struggling with plateaus, using isometric variations with the regular strength training is recommended.
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