Isometric exercises, also referred to as static strength training, are a form of anaerobic exercises that place stress on the muscles without causing any joint movement or muscle contractions. These exercises can be performed on any muscle group in the body including the rectus abdominus, commonly referred to as the “abs”.
Rectus Abdominus Anatomy
The rectus abdominus is located on the front part of your torso between your chest and your waist. It’s primarily responsible for the flexion of the lumbar portion of the spine. Additionally, the rectus abdominus is responsible for the tilting of the pelvis. This muscle is also commonly referred to as the stomach, abdomen, and six pack.
Isometric Benefits for the Abs
Isometric training provides some benefits for those looking to improve their waistline or get that highly desired six pack.
- At Home – Isometric exercises can be done virtually anywhere including the comforts of your own home. This is beneficial for those who don’t have a gym membership or are unable to get to the gym.
- Non-Bulking – for the most part, isometric exercises help to condition the abdominal muscles through muscular endurance and strength. Isometrics will not increase muscular size like traditional strength training exercises do.
- Injury Prevention –If you are suffering from back injuries or back pain, traditional abdominal exercises might aggravate the injury or worsen it. Isometric exercises can help condition the stomach muscles without making a preexisting injury worse. For example, performing a crunch and holding the crunch at a specific point in the range of motion, can help train the rectus abdominus without placing unwanted stress on the back.
Isometric Ab Exercises
- Crunch – To begin, lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Cross your arms like an ‘X’ over your chest. Tuck your chin to your chest to prevent neck strain. Lift your torso off the ground by curving your spine and placing stress upon the rectus abdominus. Once you get to the maximum “crunching” position, hold for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat for 3 to 5 times.
- Twisting Crunch – Like the regular crunch, start in the same position. Instead of placing your arms across your body, place your arms straight down to your side. Now take your right foot and place it across your left knee. Begin by slowly crunching and reaching for your right foot with your right hand. This will force your torso to twist. As you touch your foot, hold for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times on both sides.
- V-Ups – Lay flat on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms down along side your body. Begin by slowly lifting your torso up and performing a crunch. As you get to the top of the crunch movement, reach past your knees with your hands. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times. You can modify this exercise by lifting your feet off the ground, placing them in the air with your knees bent.
- Front Plank – Lay face down on the ground with your legs fully extended and your elbows under your chest. Push up yourself onto your elbows, forearms and your toes. Make sure your body is aligned with no bends in the back or sinking of the pelvis. Keep your neck and head lined up with the body as well. Hold this exercise for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Leg Raises – Lay flat on your back with your legs fully extended and your hands under your butt. Keep your head flat on the ground and your neck muscles relaxed to avoid any neck strains. Keep your legs together and raise them off the ground roughly 12 to 18 inches. Hold your legs there for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times.
The following cautions should be taken into consideration when doing an isometric abdominal workout:
- Properly warm up for about 10 minutes
- Make sure you get up slowly from the ground when complete. This will help prevent any head rushes our bouts of dizziness.
- If you have any pain, cease exercising and seek a medical professional for proper diagnosis of the pain.