Column 16 - Isometrics

Original publication date: December 21, 1983

Whether you are a mother and a housewife with more things to do than the time to do them in, or a businessman or woman working at a desk all day, or someone who enjoys their time in front of the television set, you have time to do odd moment exercises. Isometrics.

Isometrics are exercises that can be done at any time using little or no equipment. Your body, your chair you sit on, or the kitchen counter you work at can all be used. Isometrics can be done while you are busy with other things. Since they require very little output they are not as tiring as doing other exercises, yet they can substantially increase the strength in your various muscles.

An isometric exercise is any movement which creates tension in a muscle without changing the length of the muscle. Pushing against or pulling an immoveable object will cause the muscle to tense up and as a result, strengthen it. A good example is pushing against a wall. No matter how hard you push you know the wall will not move. As you are pushing, your arms stay at the same angle and the muscles stay the same length. By holding the movement, the muscle will ultimately become stronger.

While sitting at your desk or sitting watching television you can increase the strength in your arms and upper body by doing a series of isometrics. Put your hands together at chest level. Push your hands hard against each other and hold. Now lock fingers and pull your hands hard. By changing the height of your arms you will work on different muscles. You can work on the neck and face area by putting your hand under your chin and pushing up with your hand and pushing down with your chin. Put your hand to the side of your face and using your hand as a resistance push your face against your hand.

The legs, especially the thighs which are greatly effected by prolonged sitting, can be exercised while sitting. Push your thighs down hard into the seat of the chair and hold. This will tense the thigh and rear end area and create much tighter muscles.

The chair and desk can be used in many ways. Create your own isemetrics. Push and pull and work your muscles. The kitchen counter is also an ideal piece of equipment for the woman while she is busy doing dishes or preparing a meal. By simply pushing down hard against the counterfop or pulling up hard with fingers under the lip of the countertop, the arms and back will be strengthened. After closing the refrigerator door, a hard push into the door will strengthen the upper arms as well. Pushing with a leg against the cupboard door will strengthen the leg.

Any movement that meets with resistance from an immoveable object will work the muscles. As long as you feel you are working a muscle without strain, you will benefit from such an exercise. The movement must be held for at least six seconds and full strength should be used for the entire six seconds. Breathe in through your nose before the movement and out through your mouth during the movement. Make sure you don't hold your breath.

Isometrics should not be considered as an only form of exercise. They work best in conjunction with a stretching program. They are best appreciated when you don't have the time for any lengthy exercising. Try them at different times of the day while doing different activities. They're great while sitting in the car for a long trip. They're also good while relaxing after a filling Christmas dinner.

Have a good Christmas!!

Copyright 2021 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.