Use these Isometric Core Abs Exercises to build a powerful midline and body that will improve performance and prevent injury.
Isometric exercises, also known as static strength training, are contractions of a particular muscle for an extended period of time. Simply put, an isometric exercise is one that involves muscle engagement without movement. Instead, you pick one position and hold it. For example, in a plank or wall sit, the muscles are working, but not actively changing lengths.
In positions like these, the muscle fibers are activated but since there are equal forces against each other, there is no movement. (Compare this to picking up a 20-pound dumbbell to do biceps curls—the force of the weight pushing down is less than the force you are using to lift the weight up).
How can you benefit from Isometric Core Abs Exercises?
Every athlete wants to be able to generate a lot of explosive force. Isometric exercises, when added to a functional strength training program, have been shown to help athletes produce more speed and power. Studies have shown that that a 7 second muscle contraction increases your strength by about 5 percent.
In addition, As you get older, you lose muscle tone, flexibility and the ability to digest essential amino acids, but regular isometric exercises can allow you to maintain your muscle strength. In fact, isometric exercises are a necessary kind of strength training for an older person who would like to stay healthy and mobile and for everyone else who would want to avoid muscular decline.
Including isometric exercise in your training routine has the dual benefit of injury prevention and strength building. If you have or have had damaged muscles in your lifetime, this method can help you to rehabilitate your injury and reduce recovery time of your muscles. While it may seem like a good idea to just sit and rest, you may recover healing muscle more quickly by training. Isometrics are great at this because they don’t put too much strain on your muscles and joints.
These isometric exercises build a foundation of functional strength to support you when you advance to more dynamic, explosive routines. They are particularly beneficial when rebuilding from injury.
Top 10 Isometric Core Abs Exercises
All the exercises listed below are positions required to be held for a duration of time. The duration that you hold the positions for will depend on your current level of core strength.
It is important to not overdo it and work well within your limitations to avoid compromising your lower back.
Technique is important, so read the notes and make sure you check out the video clips for some extra form guidance.
1. L SIT
- You can do this on dip bars or on the floor. A good starting point for learning this exercise would be to do it on the dip bars.
- Start with a hand on each dip bar and support your body weight on fully extended arms, straight down by your side. Your body should be hanging in a straight line to begin with.
- Keeping your legs straight, raise them to be parallel to the ground. If the straight leg version is too challenging, try it with your knees bent, keeping them shoulder width apart, i.e. lift your knees instead of your straightened legs.
- Extend through your chest and try to send your hips forward.
2. PALLOF HOLD
- Attach a single handle to the cable machine at shoulder height.
- Grab the handle between two hands and take a few steps out from the cable machine.
- Press the cable out in front of you until your arms are fully extended.
- Resist being pulled towards the cable machine by bracing your core and squeezing your glutes.
3. SIDE PLANK
- Lie on your side with your legs stacked and your upper body propped up on your elbow.
- Push your hips up so that only your elbow, forearm and foot of your bottom leg are on the ground.
- You should have a straight line from your head and top shoulder to your top foot.
- Your shoulder should be in line with your supporting elbow.
- Hold for 20+ seconds on each side.
4. Isometric Core Abs Exercises – V HOLD
- Start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your feet off the ground and roll back onto your tailbone.
- Maintaining a neutral spine, extend your legs and your arms until they are straight and are running parallel to each other.
- Your torso and legs should create a ‘V’ shape.
5. Isometric Core Abs Exercises – PILLAR HOLD
- Go into the top of a push up position with your palms flat on the floor and your arms fully extended.
- Your hands should be shoulder width apart and you should have a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Push up into your shoulder blades, protracting your scapular. Squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis under.
- Hold for 30+ seconds.
6. WARRIOR POSE 3
- Stand in a split stance (one leg forward, one back).
- Shift your weight onto your front foot sending your back foot onto its toes.
- Your arms should be by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows to begin with.
- Maintaining a small bend in the front knee and your weight concentrated in the heel of your front foot, slowly hinge forward at the hips, shifting all your weight into your front foot and lifting your back foot and leg off the ground.
- Note, your back leg should only lift as far as your hip hinge/your chest goes down, so your body remains in a straight line from your head to your back foot.
- Once your body is parallel to the ground and you are in a stable and secure position, extend your arms forward, reaching in front of you.
7. Isometric Core Abs Exercises – BEAR CRAWL HOLD
- Go onto your hands and knees on the floor.
- Your knees should be hip width apart, directly under your hips.
- Your arms should be shoulder width apart with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders.
- Keeping your back straight and your lower abdominals engaged, lift your knees an inch or so off the ground.
8. Isometric Core Abs Exercises – PLANK
- Have your forearms on the ground, shoulder width apart and your feet on the floor.
- Push up onto your elbows so that your body is off the ground with only your forearms and toes on the floor.
- You should have a straight line from your head to your heels and your shoulders should be directly above your elbows.
- Keep your glutes activated to assist you in maintaining a safe position for your lower back (your hips shouldn’t be in the air or sagging downwards).
9. DEAD BUG HOLD
- Lie on your back and raise your legs and arms straight up in the air. Your legs should be hip width apart and your arms shoulder width apart, both fully extended.
- From here, scoop your lower abs by tilting your pelvis inwards, removing any arch from your lower back and flattening your spine against the ground.
- Draw your belly button into your spine.
- Lower your legs towards the ground, as far as you can maintain a spine flat against the ground.
10. Isometric Core Abs Exercises – HALF DEAD BUG HOLD
- Lie on your back and raise your legs and arms.
- Bend your legs at the knees and have them hip width apart with a 90-degree bend at your hips and knees.
- Place a palm on the top of each thigh.
- Flatten your spine against the mat, then gently push your palms into your knees, creating tension for you to resist against.
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