If you are struggling with adding intensity to your home-workouts, consider adding in isometric holds that precede each of your strength moves. This method will pre-exhaust the working muscles, which will subsequently increase your strength levels (due to the added muscle fiber recruitment) and the overall intensity of your workouts.
A downfall of bodyweight workouts is, the natural tendency to make them harder is to perform them “faster.” While this concept can be great for increasing your heart rate, it more than likely just leads to form breakdown- which makes you miss out on increasing your strength levels. The quicker you go through most strength moves, the less you’ll pay attention to the details of the exercise. Therefore, consider adding in isometric holds, which will allow you to increase the intensity of your workout, without sacrificing the integrity of the strength movement.
What is an Isometric Hold?
An isometric hold is when there is no positive or negative to the movement. You are holding a position for a pre-determined amount of time. The key to maximizing the benefits of an isometric move however, is to focus on developing a great “mind muscle connection.” During an isometric hold, you should be extremely aware of what muscles you are working, and maintaining peak contraction of them the entire set- when you lose the ability to contract or “Flex” the muscle you should be working, that is when your set should be done.
For example, if you are holding a Wall Sit, don’t just go through the motion of loosely holding the position. Instead, focus on squeezing your glutes and quads during the entire set. This will greatly increase the intensity of the isometric hold, which will then increase the difficulty of your body weight strength move to follow. From a scientific perspective, this concept of muscle activation will also force you to recruit more muscle fibers during your subsequent strength move- ultimately resulting in greater strength gains!
The ISO Home Workout
You will notice this workout is different than every other Home Workout I’ve put out the last few weeks. There is an explicit focus on increasing strength in this workout, so accordingly this will not be done in a timed, circuit fashion. Each of the exercises are broken up into tri-sets (3 exercises in a row), with corrective mobility as the third exercise in each set. Rather than prescribe exact reps or times for many of these, I put a range. Find where you fit within that range, as it covers everyone from basic to advanced. Pay close attention to your form, and if the isometric holds get particularly ugly, stop the set. Remember, this is about muscle activation- not a contest to see who can hold the position the longest. Quality over quantity is KEY when training isometrically.
(As usual, some of the following moves might not be right for everyone, so if you need a regression, e-mail me, or comment on the blog below and I’ll offer you some suggestions!)
- 15 Total Exercises (Perform in recommended tri-sets)
- Work: Perform the sets, reps and timed holds as individually prescribed
- Rest Time: 30-90 seconds between sets- NONE between exercises
- Number of Sets- 4 (per tri-set- complete all 4 sets of each tri-set BEFORE moving on)
* (BE SURE to complete a warm up prior to jumping into this workout. For some bodyweight warm-up options, click here!)
1. Split Lunge ISO Hold (Hold only one side per set- next set do the opposite) – 4 x 10-30 seconds
1a. Split Lunge (FULL ROM- Same side you just ISO held for)- 4 x 10-20 reps
1b. Pigeon Stretch– 4 x 30 s. each side
2. Split Stance Wall Push– 4 x 10 – 30 seconds (switch lead leg each set)
2a. Push-Up w/ Lateral Crawl– 4 x 3-10 e. side
2b. T-Spine Extension– 4 x 30 s. each side
3. Wall Sit– 4 x 30 – 60 seconds
3a. Body Weight Squat (Full ROM)– 4 x 10 – 25 reps
3b. Bird Dog– 4 x 10 e. side (2 s. holds)
4. Single Leg Glute Bridge Hold (Hold only one side per set- next set do the opposite)- 4 x 10 – 30 seconds
4a. BW Single Arm Single Leg RDL’s– (FULL ROM- Same side you just ISO held for- If your left leg was on the ground for your single leg glute bridge, then your left leg stays on the ground for your single leg RDL)- 4 x 10 – 20 reps
4. 1/2 Kneeling Adductor Stretch– 4 x 30 s. each side
5. RKC Plank– 4 x 20-30 s.
5a. Reverse Crunch– 4 x 30 s.
5b. Dead Bug– 4 x 30 s. (SLOW Reps)
As your home workout routine starts to feel stale, it is imperative to add in methods such as isometric holds to not only spice up the workout, but also give your muscles an added stimulus. Avoid the usual pitfall of merely performing your body weight workout “quicker.” You’ll actually wind up getting less out of that method long-term, than if you employ a pre-exhaustive tactic such as isometric holds- where you’ll get stronger.
Also keep in mind, that implementing the concept of isometric holds as a pre-exhaustive measure, is a valuable tool to possess for when gyms re-open. This is a method that will serve you extremely well in the weight room as well!
Stay safe, healthy and tuned for more workouts to come!
Yours in Fitness and Health,
Your Final Reward Will Be Heartache and Tears, If You’ve Cheated the Guy in the Glass.