You want to keep those great thighs of youth, but your busy schedule makes it difficult to exercise. Isometric exercises, contractions performed from a static position without joint movement, help muscles maintain strength. The major muscles of the thighs are quadriceps, muscles in the front of the thigh, and hamstrings, muscles in the back of the thigh. Contract these muscles for isometric exercises during the course of your daily routine or add isometric exercises to your workout program. Through performance of a variety of exercises, all muscles and muscle groups benefit.
Inhale before you begin an isometric contraction. As you hold the contraction for the recommended count, exhale through pursed lips. Do not hold your breath. A study conducted by researchers at Ithaca College and reported in the journal "Physical Therapy," indicates that the Valsalvar maneuver -- a deep inhale prior to isometric exercise that is released through a blocked airway -- is not recommended due to the potential to increase blood pressure.
Inside and Outside
Strengthen your inner thigh muscles with the Clam exercise. Sit upright in a chair. Place the soles of your shoes together. Allow your knees to spread apart. Put your hands on the inside of your thighs just above your knees. Press your thighs against your resisting hands. Hold the press to a count of five to eight. Repeat. Work the muscles on the outside of your thighs with leg raises. Stand close to a stabilizing object such as a chair or wall. Rest one hand on the stabilizing object. Lift your outside leg 5 to 6 inches. Contract the muscle as you hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Relax. Repeat with the other leg.
Hamstrings and Quads
Stand with your back against a wall to do the isometric wall chair. Slide down the wall, walking your feet gradually out as necessary, until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your lower legs are perpendicular to the floor. Breathe while you hold this position for up to 30 seconds. The isometric straight-leg hold is preferably performed with both legs extended. However, beginners might need to exercise one leg at a time. Sit upright in a chair. Inhale and lift one or both legs. Contract your thigh muscles while you hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. When you are strong enough, perform two to three repetitions.
Muscle tension without movement can cause a sudden spike in blood pressure. Static exercises might not be safe for individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease or other circulation problems. Consult your physician to learn which types of exercise are appropriate for you.
- MayoClinic.com: Are Isometric Exercises a Good Way to Build Strength?
- Get Fit While You Sit: Easy Workouts From Your Chair; Charlene Torkelson
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics: Dynamic Vs. Static Exercise
- Physical Therapy: Effects of Breathing Instruction on Blood Pressure Responses During Isometric Exercises
For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.