Call me a workout junky but like most people that workout, I gauge my best workouts by how sweaty my body is at the end of their workout. Sweat dripping from my body is a good sign on how hard I pushed my body and some of the best sweaty workouts come from things like spinning, boot camps, HIIT workouts, boxing, etc. How do I know if I am working my body just as hard without getting the outpour of sweat dripping down my face?
Fitness experts say over and over again that you don’t necessarily need to be going so hard to get the best results out of your workout. In fact, it could be a great change for your body to enter in different forms of exercise. Enter in “still” exercises, like yoga’s boat poses and Pilates’ hollow holds, which can give your heart pumping sweaty moves a run for their money. When I say “still” this is what is referred to as an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises are great exercises to help build a strong foundation for the body. They don’t add a lot of extra impact on your joints and can be performed without any equipment. They are especially good for building strength without impact or a full range of motion. You can also make these exercises more challenging (when the time comes) by adding in weight to the movements.
Isometric contraction only increases muscular strength in the exact position you’re engaging, which is why I mentioned that they are great at building a strong solid foundation. If each muscle isn’t strong then they can’t be as strong as they could be as a whole. When one muscle is weak, then the whole unit of muscles is weak. Your body is like a spider web, if one of the silks is broken then the web isn’t as strong as when it was whole.
Isometric exercises are to add into your regular routine or you can even try adding them in for a whole week here and there to really focus on particular muscles. Even though, an isometric exercise alone may not give you that sweaty workout you are looking for they certainly help you get better and stronger through your sweaty ‘great feeling’ workouts.
Here are a few Isometric Exercises I swear by:
When I mean plank, I don’t mean the type of plank that people claim they can hold for 5 plus minutes. The right way to do a plank should leave you burning by only being the exercise for 30 seconds. This means that when you are in the plank positions you aren’t just ‘hanging out’ you are engaging all of your muscles – stomach, glutes, thighs, etc. and while breathing. If you can master engaging every muscle in your body while holding a plank AND keeping a steady breath, then more power to you but typically this is very challenging to most.
In some forms of exercising it is hard to target the obliques often. In order to keep our obliques strong enough for the rest of our connecting muscles, this is where the Oblique Opener has been an amazing addition into my workout regimen. Check out this video from Strong Fit to see how to properly execute this Isometric Exercise. You’ll want to make sure to create internal torque throughout the body, engaging the pecs and inside head of the hamstrings. Try for sets of 60 seconds contracting for 5 seconds relaxing 3 seconds.
This one is another one that sneaks up on me pretty quick. If you don’t have any resistance bands, don’t worry this exercise will still be a burner. A banded squat is very easy and might seem a bit silly, but when is the last time you just held yourself at the bottom of a squat? Try it out. If you do have a resistance band, place it around both legs either above the knees or below the knees, but not on the knees. I personally like the band above my knees. You can even try this out with a little bit wider of a squat. Try holding your squat at the bottom position for about 60 seconds and see how you feel.