What Is Isometric Exercise?

What Is Isometric Exercise Training?

When you consider the perfect fitness regimen, what are the exercises that come to mind?

Do you envision a classic pullup? A heavy deadlift? Running endlessly on a treadmill? 

How about standing still? 

Isometric exercises require no movement at all, and in today’s article, we’ll explore how isometric exercises can do wonders to improve your strength, endurance, and overall health. 

Don’t believe us? Read on to learn more. 


There are lots of terms we can use to describe physical movements in fitness. 

There are aerobic and anaerobic exercises, which, by definition, relate to the amount of air you have to breathe to perform movements in each type of exercise. There are categories to describe types of strength training—you have bodyweight training, circuit training, HIIT, and beyond. There are exercises that are all about functionality and others that come down to strength and strength alone. The list goes on and on.

Keep in mind that, as we discuss one type of exercise, the terms can overlap. But let’s get back to why we’re here: isometric training. 

The term “isometric” derives from the Greek words, isos, which means “equal, identical” and metron, which means “a measure.” Put together, you’ve got “of equal measure.” 

As it relates to fitness, when we’re talking about isometric exercises, we’re referring to holding positions in which muscle length and the angle of the joint in use do not change. The only change that can be made in an isometric workout is the amount of weight you use.  


Next comes the important question: what are isometric exercises for? 

These exercises are a fantastic supplement (we’ll get back to that) for strength training regimens. 

When we perform a weighted movement—let’s say a back squat (a squat with a barbell on the shoulders)—we start in a standing position, bend our knees until we reach the desired form, and stand back up. 

While every second of the movement is important, our strength is tested and pushed the most in that very low-to-the-ground position where our knees are bent to 90-degrees and we have to resist the weight of the bar to stand back up. This moment of extreme challenge, where you feel weakest, is called a sticking point. It happens when the external weight has a greater mechanical advantage than the body. 

In order to get stronger at that moment of truth in the bottom of the squat and overcome the mechanical advantage of the weight, we can incorporate isometric holds into our fitness routine. In the case of a squat, it may look something like holding that bottom-of-the-squat position to fail or pushing against an immovable weight in that position, like a barbell against pins on a rack. Overcoming the mechanical advantage of the weight is where isometric exercises are most useful. 


There are three types of isometric exercises: presses, pulls, and holds. While pulls and holds definitely add to your strength, pressing exercises are what support explosive movements. It’s basically supporting the preloading of a muscle so your body is prepared to spring out of it. 

For example, a swimmer on the block waiting for the bell to sound is holding an isometric position that is loaded and ready to explode so they can dive as far as they can off the block. As far as everyday movements go, having a little explosive power can be helpful for everyday activities as small as standing up out of a chair. 

In order to get the benefits of isometric exercises, you don’t have to change your fitness regimen very much. Incorporating one or two isometric exercises to any workout routine is a small way to  make a big difference. 

Here are a few isometric movement holds to get you started:


There are many variations of the plank, but we’re going to focus on the classic high plank. This isometric position is a full-body exercise that is guaranteed to strengthen your core. 

To do a high plank, get into the top of a push-up position: hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, toes curled under your feet, and your back completely  flat as if a stick stretched from the back of your head to your heels. 

Squat hold 

We mentioned the squat hold to support a weighted squat, but let’s go over the form.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your knees over your feet, your chest up, and your spine neutral. Engage your core to stay upright and all of the muscles in your legs to maintain the position.

Pull-up hold

The pull-up hold is a fantastic strength training exercise if you can’t quite do a pull-up yet and you need to build the muscles to support it. 

All you have to do is find a pull-up bar, get into the top of a pull-up position (chin at the bar) with your fingers facing away from you, slightly wider than shoulder-width, and hold. 

No matter what you’re training for—whether it’s muscle strength or just overall health and fitness—incorporating isometric strength training exercises into your routine is a surefire way to improve. Visit us at one of over 30 locations for all of the tools and equipment you could possibly need!

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Compound vs. Isolation Exercises: What’s the Difference?

Compound vs. Isolation Exercises: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to strength training, there is no “one size fits all approach.” As with all workouts, setting fitness routine goals varies from person to person. And even with a specific goal in mind, there are many options to get you there. Today we’re diving into all things compound vs. isolation exercise so that you can best assess your fitness goals and choose the right workouts for your personal needs. 

All strength training exercises can be categorized as either compound or isolation movement exercises. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so having a solid understanding of these pros and cons can help you decide which is best for your fitness and strength goals. 

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

What are compound exercises?

Compound exercises are strength-training movements that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. People often refer to compound exercises as functional exercises because they replicate real-world movements. Lifting a heavy storage box in your garage, for instance, is a real-life example of a compound exercise. You’re engaging arm, shoulder, glute, and core muscle groups, rather than isolating one specific muscle group. 

What are isolation exercises?

Isolation exercises, on the other hand, specifically target one muscle group at a time. While there are some real-life applications of isolation exercise—like lifting a drink to sip on at the dinner table—the purpose of isolation exercises is to narrow in on one muscle group without influencing any other muscle or body part. 

When Is It Best To Do Isolation Workouts vs. Compound Workouts? 

The benefit of isolation workouts is that you can strengthen one muscle group without strengthening the rest of your body. This is useful when one muscle is weaker than the rest. 

People recovering from an injury often turn to isolation workouts to regain their strength in whatever was injured. For example, someone who breaks their ankle and is on crutches for a month has plenty of muscle in one leg and lacks a month’s worth of movement and strength training in the other. Regaining strength in their weaker leg helps restore balance within the body and prevents overcompensation of other muscles, potentially leading to further injury. 

Isolation exercises are also popular among bodybuilders because they allow you to grow specific muscles and have more control over aesthetics. So if your fitness journey has a visual ideal in mind, isolation exercises may help support some of your goals. 

With isolation exercise, it’s important to be cautious of your effort not to strengthen one muscle group and create a new muscle imbalance. Always check in with your whole body to make sure everything feels aligned, safe, and healthy.

If you’re healthy and want to work on strengthening your entire body efficiently, compound workouts are the way to go. Compound workouts are like pressing fast-forward because they speed up your progress and help you achieve your fitness goals faster. You can split your time in half at the gym if you do completely compound movements because you’re checking off multiple muscle groups at the same time. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong time to do isolation exercises—it all depends on your personal fitness goals.

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

Looking for some inspiration? Below is a list of easy compound and isolation workouts to get you started.

Compound exercise examples:

Exercise Muscle group
Pull-ups Arms, core, back
Lunges Glutes, quads, core
Squats Glutes, core, quads

Isolation exercise examples: 

ExerciseWorkout Muscle group
Calf raises Lower legs
Bicep curls Arms
Sit-ups Core

Where Is the Best Place to Do Compound and Isolation Exercises? 

Strength training can be done both at home and in the gym. Find a Chuze near you or on our virtual fitness platform iChuze Fitness and level up your workout routine in our state-of-the-art facilities. As mentioned above, compound exercises are functional, so you often do compound exercises even when you aren’t working out! Isolation moves require a bit more intention and focus but also can easily be done from anywhere. 

Gyms can be useful if you’re new to strength training. With fitness equipment available to members, working a specific muscle group requires less thought because the machines are designed to isolate specific areas of the body.

No matter where you are, though, knowledge is power. Knowing the benefits of isolation exercises compared to compound exercises can help you decide which exercises are best for your fitness goals.

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