Isometric exercises are static; that is, you hold one position for a length of time instead of moving your body. But just because isometric core workouts require very little or no movement, it doesn't mean that they are a walk in the park. By changing your base of support or how your body is positioned, you can build up a sweat as much as doing a Brazilian dance class. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Stability Ball Exercises
Doing certain isometric core exercises on a stability ball requires more concentration and stabilization in your shoulders, spine and hip than doing them on the floor. The unstable surface of the ball forces your body to constantly adjust itself to find balance. For example, do a plank on a stability ball on your forearms, on your hands, or on your shins and feet. With any isometric core exercises, the key to maintaining your position is relaxed breathing in your belly. When you do the plank, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Your belly should expand when you breathe in and contract when you breathe out. Hold the plank for five to 10 seconds or as long as you can.
Bridging strengthens your buttocks and improves hip and abdominal stability. There are several bridge variations: For the basic bridge, lie on the floor or another firm surface with your feet on the floor about hip-width apart. Lift your butt up as high as you can and hold this position for five to 10 seconds or as long as you can. For a variation, do the bridge while lifting one leg at a time; this will show you whether one side is stronger than the other. You may also do a bridge with your feet on a stability ball.
Narrow Kneeling Workouts
Doing isometric core training from an upright position also improves hip and spine stability. Kneel on one knee and place the other foot 6 to 8 inches in front of your kneeling knee. Your front knee should be bent at about 90 degrees. Breathe deeply a few times, from your belly, which will help you maintain your position. Hold for five to 10 seconds or as long as you can. The narrow kneeling position may appear simple, yet you may find one side of your body to be less stable than the other side, says physical therapist Gray Cook, author of "Athletic Body in Balance."
A superset is a series of isometric exercises with little to no rest between the exercises. You choose two different movement patterns, which saves time in your workouts and burns more calories than doing one exercise at a time. For example, perform one set of pushups followed by a set of planks. Or do a set of squats followed by a set of narrow kneeling. Repeat the sequence for the desired number of sets. Mix different exercises to create your own workout to help you overcome plateaus and boredom.
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Core Stability for Enhanced Daily Function
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.