I used to think that isometric exercises were something that you needed machines or straps to do. However, isometric contractions occur when your muscle(s) is held in a static position. Examples of isometric exercises include wall squats, planks, or any position that you can maintain and hold for an extended time. No machine necessary!
Since isometric exercises involve holding one position for what sometimes feels like hours, but is only seconds, they build muscular endurance. This means that every day tasks like going up and down stairs or getting up from the floor become easier and safer. Research shows a link between strong leg muscles and longevity. One study that followed healthy adults 70 and older for more than six years found that those who had greater quadriceps strength had a lower risk of early death.
My own personal experience is that isometric exercises, like my version of a wall squat which I call a “Super Squat,” helps build all the muscles surrounding our knees, making them stronger and more stable. Squats strengthen all of the muscle groups in your legs, including your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, as well as muscles in your lower back and core. Those muscles provide the foundation for most activities of daily living, such as getting off the toilet, climbing stairs, and simply standing up from sitting in a chair
This isometric Super Squat is safe because your back is against the wall. It can be done by anyone because it’s not necessary to slide down the wall very far. In fact, you should NEVER lower down so that your hips are lower than knees or extend your knees out over your toes, as these will cause knee problems. When done properly, this squat not only builds our quadriceps, but all your leg muscles and your glutes (butt muscles). Not bad for one little exercise, huh?
Most fitness experts agree that the squat is the most important exercise for those over 60. If you decide you’ll start with just one exercise a day, this is the one for you.
If you like Yoga, Warrior II pose is an isometric squat when held for 30 seconds, as is Goddess pose. In Bridge pose, you are strengthening quads, butt muscles and abs!
We will talk in my next post about another modified isometric exercise that builds upper body. It’s not a plain old plank, so don’t imagine it’s going to be worse than it is!
Meanwhile, here is a video of “Super Squat” for you! Give it a try.
And, if you want to try a class where exercises are modified for you personally, click here!
Best of Health,