Ever try to eat cereal with a fork? It doesn’t work so well. The milk just drips through the tines.
That’s because using a fork to eat cereal is the wrong tool to do the job. When you use the wrong tool you get bad results.
Unfortunately, lots of guys lift heavy weights to get six pack abs. But if you want six pack abs, what you really want is a set of isometric abs. And to get those you need to use the right tool for the job – isometric ab exercises.
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What Are Isometric Contractions?
Isometric contractions, a.k.a. static contractions occur when muscles exert force – causing tension, but without a changing their length. They are closely identified with common flexibility activities like yoga and stretching, but also apply to strength training and especially abdominal development in all three areas:
- Rectus Abdominus (your “six-pack” muscles)
- Transverse Abdominus (muscles that pull in the stomach, keeping it flat)
- Obliques (V-shaped muscles tapering the waistline – the “love handles”)
The point is, if you’re looking to get six-pack abs, a flat stomach, and the v-shape waistline, then you’ll want to make sure you’re focusing on isometric abdominal contractions – the secret weapon to washboard abs.
You can also use these techniques to build muscle with isometric muscle contractions.
What Are Isometric Ab Exercises?
Unlike isotonic contractions, which cause muscle shortening (things like bicep curls, triceps pulldowns), isometric exercises do not involve any pulling or lifting motion. This makes them particularly desirable if your goal is a lean, washboard “six-pack”.
Remember – you do not want bigger abdominal muscles that only lead to an unwanted bigger waist; instead, your goals are strength and better definition in the core midsection.
Do Isometrics Work for Abs?
Yes! Because isometric exercises focus on building strength and definition without building bulk, they’re perfect for a high-quality abs workout.
They will help you achieve a lean, chiseled look while improving your core stability. This helps you to get a better workout when you are lifting for size and can help prevent injury because a strong core can protect your spine.
Top 10 Isometric Abdominal Exercises for a Killer Isometric Ab Workout
I’ve selected these isometric muscle building exercises to give you a complete ab workout that is easy to execute and uses ab contraction to develop abs that women will go nuts for.
But remember, you also have to combine a great isometric routine with a good diet. If you want your abs to show you have to have a low body fat percentage and that means combining a good quality diet with a strong workout routine.
1. Isometric Stomach Flattener
- Take a chair; sit up tall and straight.
- Take a deep breath and contract your stomach as hard as possible.
- Tense up your stomach as if bracing for a punch – still keeping it well contracted.
- Breathe out tightly making a hissing sound. You should feel your abdominals getting tighter.
- While breathing out, crunch your abs really hard; rotate your pelvis upwards and your rib cage inwards.
- Breathe all the way out.
- Finally, relax!
2. Isometric Plank Hold
Bridge and plank exercises are great for beginners and experts alike. For example, the basic isometric plank works the front abdominals. Keeping your body straight, put your forearms on the ground. Get up on your toes to put your body in a straightened position. Hold yourself in this fixed position for thirty to sixty seconds.
For more of a challenge, try a three-point plank with one leg completely in the air.
3. Side Plank Isometric Hold
Work the side and front abdominals with this classic exercise:
- Lay on one side.
- Lift yourself into position by placing your forearm under your body and pushing up.
- Your feet should be on top of each other, and your body should be straight.
- Hold yourself in this fixed position for at least thirty seconds.
As you improve your performance, support your weight on your hand with elbow locked straight rather than on your forearm.
For a good breathing exercise to cap things off, consider the following “Lats” (Lattimus Dorsi) exercise:
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp hands together with arms outstretched in front of you. Knees slightly bent. Take a deep breath and with back perfectly straight, stretch arms out and hold the position for thirty seconds (shorter if you fatigue). Gently hiss out your breath instead of holding it in.
4. Kettlebell Single Arm Waiter’s Walk
This exercise works your abs and improves the stability of your shoulder joints.
- Stand with your feet placed together
- Hold a kettlebell in one hand – make sure it’s light enough that you can press it above your head.
- Curl the kettlebell up to your shoulder.
- Press the kettlebell above your head.
- Contract your upper back and shoulder muscles while tightening your abs.
- Keep your arm extended and walk around the gym or area where you’re training.
- Keep your spine completely vertical
- When one circuit is complete, switch arms and repeat.
5. 6 Inch Leg Raise
This exercise is simple but powerful. And it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Lay on your back with your legs extended and raise them 6 inches off the ground.
Hold as long as you can.
If you tend to have lower back pain, then pay special attention to your form and do shorter sets
6. Dip Iso Hold
You’ll need parallel or dip bars for this exercise.
- Place one hand on each of the bars.
- Raise yourself up to the top of a dip position with your arms straight and your shoulders back and down.
- Elongate your neck.
- Your legs should be hanging down below you.
- You can leave one foot lightly on the ground and build up if needed.
This move is great at improving posture and strengthening your core.
Handstands are a classic isometric exercise that’s not only great for your abs but will increase your overall upper body strength.
If you’re a beginner try doing a handstand using a wall as a support and work your way up to freestanding handstands.
Variation: Box Handstand Hold
In this hold, you kneel on a chair or a box and put your hands on the ground. Slowly raise yourself up on your arms, leaving your toes on the box.
8. Superman Banana Exercise
This is a great set that consists of two different exercises that are similar, but opposite.
For the superman, you lay on your belly and raise your legs, thighs, and chest off the ground. Hold this pose for as long as you can.
Then you move to the banana. Lay on your back and raise your shoulders and pelvis off the ground. Hold this pose for as long as you can.
9. Glute Bridge Hold with Weight
You can actually do this with or without the weight. Both qualify as isometric exercises.
Whether you use the weight or not depends on how challenged you want to be.
This exercise not only works your core effectively, but it also works your glutes.
Working your glutes can help improve how much you can lift, improve your speed and help to prevent lower back pain.
To do this exercise lay on your back with your knees bent and flat on the floor. Lift up your butt and lift your back off the floor so that only your shoulders are touching the floor.
Hold and repeat.
If you’d like to add weight, hold a flat barbell weight on your stomach as you complete this hold.
10. Push Against Wall Exercise
This one is EXACTLY what it sounds like.
Push into the wall as hard as you can. You’ll feel the whole front of your body working. If you’re doing it with all your might you should feel it from your shoulders to your feet.
Focus on engaging every muscle as much as you can and contract your abs while you’re doing it.
Summary of this Isometric Ab Workout:
These 10 isometric ab exercises are intense but work extremely well for developing a six pack, especially when combined with a solid diet plan.
If you don’t have time to get to this full routine you may want to check out some of the isometrics you can do while sitting.
Isometric Ab Exercises While Sitting
Even small moves can really help develop a stronger core. So when you are pressed for time or if you are a beginner try out a couple of these moves. They will help to keep you from “sliding” in your workouts or get you prepared for the more intense workout above.
1. Torso Rotation Stretch
While sitting in a chair keep your feet facing forward and rotate your torso so your head is pointing to the back of your chair.
Put the arm you are rotating toward on the back of your chair.
Switch sides and repeat.
2. Seated Iso Crunch Hold
Hold onto the sides of your chair and raise your legs with your knees bent.
This exercise looks much easier than it is. If you are just starting out, take it slow. You’ll find that you can raise your legs higher over time.
3. Sitting on an Exercise Ball Instead of a Chair
When you sit in a desk chair usually your entire core collapses. Sitting on an exercise ball engages your core throughout the day.
If you are just starting out doing this, I recommend switching back and forth for a while until your core gets stronger.
5 Benefits of Isometric Exercises
1. Great Beginners’ Exercises: Instead of worrying about what body parts to move, isometrics offer a low-impact way of developing great abdominals thanks to your own body resistance.
2. Time-effective: Targeted isometric abdominal exercises require as few as five minutes, and can easily be incorporated into a compound exercise, full body workout.
3. Can be performed anywhere: Whether you are in a hotel room, at home, or at a friend’s garage, space is never an issue for these exercises.
4. Scalable for Greater Results: These exercises can be done equipment free; however, by adding external resistance (e.g. resistance bands, specialized isometric equipment, free weights) you can increase the challenge and get even better results.
5. Flexibility Transitions: With some minor adjustments, many isometric exercises can become isotonic (i.e. moving) for even more results.
Isometric contraction exercises have always been a part of my workouts, and not just for the six-pack. Add a couple to your workout, and don’t forget about your nutritional needs! A general rule of thumb is to get more protein into your diet to encourage a lower body fat level. Still, don’t neglect your carbohydrates or you will lack the energy needed to carry out full workouts and showcase your new physique!
And if you get great results and love these exercises then be sure to check out these isometric core exercises to get six pack abs.
Source: http://www.total-ab-workout.com/isometric_exercises.html (Total Ab Workout)