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Isometric Deadlift

How To Train With Isometrics For Maximal Strength

After my [How To Train When You Have Limited Time] post I have been getting some questions in regards to the isometrics workouts that are included in the training program.

In this post, I am going to cover some basic isometric movements that you can train with, and also give some sample workouts that you can include in your training routines.

There are many ways to use isometrics.

Here we are going to focus on strength development.

The Benefits of Isometrics Training

Why should you consider training with isometrics in the first place?

Well, here are some benefits of isometric training:

  1. Like bodyweight exercises, you can train with isometrics everywhere and with minimum equipment.
  2. They don’t require too much time.
  3. You can train almost every movement.

The only disadvantage of training with isometrics is that you are not able to measure your progress.

However, this block can be easily overcome, if you are incorporating other training modalities (eg. bodyweight training, weight lifting, etc).

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of isometrics, check out this article:

Isometric Exercises

An isometric exercise is a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint. [1]

1: Isometrics For Neck Training

Exercise #1: Front-to-back Iso Hold

neck training
Picture 1: Front-to-back Iso Hold
 This exercise is performed like this:
  1. Place your hands on the back of your head and bring your head forward.
  2. Try to bring your head in the upright position, while you resist with your hands.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Do the same for all the positions as seen in Picture 1.

Exercise #2: Side-to-side Iso Hold

side-to-side neck training
Picture 2: Side-to-side Iso Hold
 This exercise is performed like this:
  1. Move your head to one side and put one or both of your hands to the opposite side.
  2. Apply force to move your head to the opposite side, while you resist with your arms.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Do the same for the other side.

Exercise #3: Rotational Iso Hold

  1. Look over your shoulder and place the palm of your hand to your chick.
  2. Try to move your head towards the opposite direction, while your resist with your hand.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Do the same for the other side.

Caution: Take it easy with the neck exercises. You might want to start slowly and not apply too much effort in the beginning.

2: Isometrics For Pushing Strength

Exercise #4: Front Wall Push

Front wall push
Picture 3: Front Wall Push
 This exercise is performed like this:
  1. Get to the bottom of the push up position (on the wall).
  2. Push with all your strength. (Having the intention to move the wall helps.)
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Do the same for mid-range and peak range.

Exercise #5: Overhead Frontal Wall Push

Overhead frontal wall push
Picture 4: Overhead Front Wall Push

 Similar to the Front Wall Push, but with your head between your arms so that the wall is “over” your head.

3: Isometrics For Pulling Strength

Exercise #6: Chest pull

Chest Pull
Picture 5: Chest Pull
 This exercise is performed like this:
  1. Take a towel/ rope and bring it in front of your chest.
  2. Pull outwards with all your strength. (Having the intention of tearing the towel will help you apply more force.)
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Practice at close-range, mid-range and peak range. You can, of course, train more angles if you want.

Exercise #7: Overhead Pull

Overhead Pull
Picture 6: Overhead Pull

Similar to the chest pull, but with the towel/rope above your head.

Exercise #8: Behind-the-neck pull

Behind the neck pull
Picture 7: Behind-the-neck Pull

Similar to the chest pull, but with the towel/rope behind your neck.

Exercise #9: Behind-the-back pull

Behind the back pull
Picture 8: Behind-the-back Pull

 Similar to the chest pull, but with the towel/rope behind you.

4: Isometrics For Legs

Exercise #10: Squat – Inward Push

Squat - Inward push
Picture 9: Squat – Inward Push
  This exercise is performed like this:
  1. Get into a squat with a fairly wide stance.
  2. Place your elbows next to the knees.
  3. Push your knees inwards while resisting with your arms.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Narrow the stance and repeat.

Exercise #11: Squat – Outward Push

Squat - Outward push
Picture 10: Squat – Outward Push

Same as the Squat – Inward Push, but you are going to push your knees outwards.

Exercise  #12: Isometric Deadlift

Isometric Deadlift
Picture 11: Isometric Deadlift
 The isometric deadlift is performed like this:
  1. Put the towel/rope under your foot.
  2. Bent over and reach the rope/towel as close to the floor as possible, while maintaining a straight back.
  3. Try with all your strength to pull yourself up.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Practice for bottom position, mid-range-position and peak range position.

Sample Workouts

There are lots of combinations that you can use to train with isometrics.

You can do mini-circuits if you don’t have enough time or you can do a full body workout. I have experimented only with mini-circuits so far.

Workout #1:

  • Neck Training
    • A1: Front-to-back Iso Hold
    • A2: Side-to-side Iso Hold
    • A3: Rotational Iso Hold
    • Rest briefly and repeat 3 times
  • Pushing Strength
    • 3 rounds of Front Wall Push
  • Pulling Strength
    • 3 rounds of Behind-the-neck Pull
  • Legs
    • 3 rounds of Isometric Deadlift
  • Rest briefly between rounds

Workout #2:

  • A1: Front-to-back Iso Hold
  • A2: Side-to-side Iso Hold
  • A3: Rotational Iso Hold
  • A4: Front Wall Push
  • A5: Overhead Front Wall Push
  • A6: Chest Towel Pull
  • A7: Overhead Pull
  • A8: Behind-the-neck Pull
  • A9: Behind-the-back pull
  • A10: Squat – Inward push
  • A11: Squat – Outward push
  • A12: Isometric Deadlift
  • Go from A1 to A12 resting as necessary.
  • Rest briefly and repeat the whole sequence, if you want 1-2 more times.

Some More Isometrics Training Tips

As a warm up, you can do some mobility drills prior to the holds.

As far as breathing is concerned, I like to exhale during the hold gradually. You can experiment and find out which way you can apply more force.

Lastly, try to apply force explosively, reaching peak force quickly (except for the neck exercises where you will have to be more careful).

Final Thoughts

There are, of course, a lot more isometric exercises other than the ones I shared with you in this post, but these are the ones that I have used the most.

I really believe that isometrics can be very useful for you, as they have really helped me in achieving the behind-the-back push up.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

~Nick

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[1] Isometric exercise

[2] I learned about the use of isometrics in “Never Gymless“ by Ross Enamait.

[3] You can find another isometric routine using towels here [Towel Isometrics].

[4] Photo Courtesy of George “Swofford71” Nikolaidis

NB002a

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