This weekend’s challenge is an isometric exercise that works your inner thighs, abs, and glutes, all while lying in bed. And the only thing you’ll need to target these key muscles is a pillow!
Isometric exercises are a form of strength training that involves muscle contraction and resistance, but without movement. They don’t require any special equipment since your body works against its own forces to tone muscle and build bone. Holding a plank, for example, is an isometric exercise.
Isometric exercise brings some surprising and specific benefits, as it “isolates” muscles to really focus on particular areas of the body.
So let’s get started!
Here are more reasons to incorporate isometric moves into your routine, some of which may surprise you.
- It strengthens the core muscles because you must hold your body steady in various positions. A strong core is a key component in balance and spinal and pelvic alignment.
- Everyday movements involve isometric moves to some extent, so performing such exercises helps increase task proficiency and greatly decreases the risk of falling.
- It targets specific muscles rather than increasing endurance and burning calories as with cardio and aerobic exercise (these are important, too, of course). The targeted nature of isometric exercise is particularly beneficial when you want to build and strengthen specific bones and joints.
Isometric exercise improves quality of life in cardiac patients, according to a review published in the Ochsner Journal. The researchers noted that:
“Since so much of daily activity involves isometric exercises…light isometrics such as hand grips, and light weight lifting…has proven to be safe and improves the quality of life of our patients. In addition, since muscle mass progressively declines with aging…some isometric exercise has other potential advantages for our middle-aged and older patients.”1
- Isometric exercises are low-impact, and therefore helpful for those who are recovering from an injury, have compromised joint integrity, or otherwise wish to build strength without stressing the joints.
Unlike high-intensity exercise, isometric exercises do not raise blood pressure, and in fact, may lower it. A recent review states that:
“Isometric exercise… is usually completed three to five times per week for 4-10 weeks. …improvements in conduit and resistance vessel endothelium-dependent dilation, oxidative stress, and autonomic regulation of heart rate and BP (blood pressure) have been reported. The clinical significance of isometric exercise training, as a time-efficient and effective training modality to reduce BP, warrants further study.”2
As you can see, isometric exercise offers multiple benefits for building bones and overall health. It does this by isolating a particular muscle or even a part of a muscle to really hone in on the area that you wish to strengthen.
The specific bones and muscles worked in today’s exercise include the following.
The abdominal muscles include the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and, to a lesser extent, the external abdominal oblique.
- The rectus abdominis is in the front of the abdomen. This is the muscle group that creates a “six pack” on the bellies of athletes. The lower part of the rectus abdominis around the belly button gets worked in today’s exercise.
- The transverse abdominis is a deep muscle that wraps around your spine to help stabilize and protect the vertebrae.
- The internal abdominal oblique lies above the transverse abdominis and below the rectus abdominis. It runs in the opposite direction from the external obliques.
- Along your sides from hip to armpit run your external obliques. These muscles are on the side and also the front of the abdomen.
The Isometric Femur, Abs And Glutes Strengthener also works the inner thigh muscles and the buttocks, to strengthen the femur and pelvis.
- The adductors are the main muscles of the inner thigh. These are the muscles you use when you squeeze your knees together.
- The glutes, or gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus, are the muscles of the buttocks. It’s particularly important to work these muscles, because our modern lifestyle often involves sitting for long periods of time, which causes these muscles (and others) to atrophy.
Now let’s take a look at how to do the Isometric Femur, Abs And Glutes Strengthener.
- Lie on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the bed (or floor if you prefer).
- Fold a standard bed pillow in half and place it between your knees.
- Squeeze the pillow between your knees hard, as if trying to pop it like a balloon. Engage your buttocks and abdominal muscles at the same time. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds, and then release.
- Repeat this squeezing, holding, and releasing pattern approximately 10 times. Stop if you feel uncomfortable.
To target these same muscle groups, you can follow this weekend’s challenge with the Hip, Glutes And Femur Strengthener and the Isometric Femur Builder. They also build muscle and bone in the same areas of the body, but in different ways.
This sort of variety is important. Not only is it beneficial to vary the moves within a form of exercise, such as isometric, but it’s also good to incorporate different types of exercise in general into your routine.
And that’s why the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System includes resistance, weight-bearing, isometric, and postural exercises. It’s the most effective way to build your bones and stay in shape.
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Enjoy the weekend!
1 Lavie, Carl J., et al. “Exercise and the Heart: Risks, Benefits, and Recommendations for Providing Exercise Prescriptions.” The Ochsner Journal. 3. 4. (2001): 207-213. Web. September 8, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116747/
2 Millar, P.J., et al. “Evidence for the role of isometric exercise training in reducing blood pressure: potential mechanisms and future directions.” Sports Med. 44. 3. (2014): 345-56. Web. September 8, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24174307