Physiological plateaus in training are not only undesirable but they limit the opportunity to achieve your fitness goals. There are a multitude of titrations one can incorporate in their training program to promote fitness gains. Some examples of change are adding or subtracting repetitions or sets, shortening rest time between sets or exercises, and utilizing isometric exercises. Isometric exercises are an example of a necessary adjustment to take your routine to the next level.

Isometric exercises involve a muscle action where the skeletal muscle is contracted against a force but no movement occurs. This action commonly happens when you stand up, as the skeletal muscles contract to keep the body upright against gravity.

In training, isometric exercises provide a shock to the body that affects the skeletal muscles, central nervous system, and the cardiopulmonary system as it is not adapted to a static position and the muscles are not lengthened or shortened.

You can incorporate isometric exercises into your training regimen in a variety of ways. In strength training, the exercise can either be utilized on its own, in circuit training, or in a burn out/finisher exercise at the end of your work out. Depending on the training program, isometric exercise on its own is a great way to improve core strengthening and stability.

This muscle action is fantastic in circuit training since circuits involving super setting the same muscle groups, such as squats, leg curls and straight leg deadlifts, tax the central nervous system and the skeletal muscles.

examples of isometric exercises2

When performing lower body circuits, some great isometric exercises to add in are the chair pose, stationary lunge hold, and wall sit. Holding a push up at the bottom of the range of motion (elbows at 90 degrees) or holding a bicep curl at an elbow flexion of 90 degrees are a terrific way to incorporate into a upper body super set circuit. The isometric exercise as a finisher to conclude the workout will take you to the next level too.

While performing isometric exercises, it is imperative to maintain breathing and avoid holding your breath.These exercises increase internal body pressure due the skeletal muscles holding a prolonged contraction.

Here are two sample routines:

Day 1: Lower Body
Circuit 1: 3-4 sets
Squats: 12 reps
Leg Curls: 12 reps
Chair pose (hold a squat position where hips are parallel to the floor): 30 seconds

Circuit 2: 3 sets
Walking lunges
Leg Press

Finisher-Wall sit: 3 sets of 40 seconds

Day 2: Upper Body
Circuit 1: 3-4 sets
Seated Row: 12 reps
Hammer Curls: 12 reps
Hammer Curl hold (elbows flexed; forearm is parallel to the floor): 20 seconds

Circuit 2: 3 sets
Bench Press: 12 reps
Triceps Ext: 12 reps
Triceps Ext hold (elbows extended at 120 degrees): 15 seconds

Finisher: Isometric Push up (hold push up where elbows are flexed at 90 degrees): 20-30 seconds

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