How can I relieve a contracted muscle

Isometric exercises: maximum training effect, minimum movement

Isometric exercises get by without aids and dynamic movements. One also speaks of static exercises. How effective is this method for building muscle and strength? And how does it work? Here's everything you need to know about isometric training.

What is isometric training?

Be in isometric training static strength exercises completed. This means that the length of the stressed muscles always remains the same during exercise. The muscles contract and become held motionless under constant tension. Under isometric load there is no push or pull movement, for example with the help of dumbbells, cable pullers or a sling trainer. Isometric exercises usually come complete without equipment out.

A good example is the forearm plank - a classic isometric exercise. In contrast to crunches, in which you alternately shorten and lengthen the abdominal muscles, these are under constant tension in the plank.

Isometric exercises vs. dynamic exercises

Isometric exercises are the opposite of dynamic exercises. At the dynamic strength training do you usually work against resistance: for example, you lift a weight. In this case one speaks of a concentric movement. If you then give in to the load in a controlled manner, you are talking about an eccentric movement.

The table below shows the main differences between isometric and dynamic training:


Isometric exercisesDynamic exercises
One position is held.There are changes in position as well as pushing and pulling movements.
The length of the stressed muscle does not change.The stressed muscle is shortened or lengthened.
The muscle is under constant tension.The muscle is loaded and relieved.
The muscle remains statically under tension.The muscle works against resistance.


LotsStrength exercises combine isometric and dynamic elements: With the deadlift, for example, you lift a weight (concentric), hold the end position statically (isometric) and only then lower the barbell again (eccentric).

What are the benefits of isometric exercises?

Isometric exercises are popular among strength athletes. There are several reasons for this:

Benefits of isometric exercises

Isometric training can do both the Maximum strength as well as the endurance increase. By holding a position for a long time, not only your muscles work under high pressure, but also your cardiovascular system. Condition is required!

Isometric exercises thus create solid Basics for your training success. They are ideal for preparing for greater challenges. For example, if you can hold the deep squat for a long period of time, it will be easier for you to perform the squat. The same goes for the push-up, which is easier for you to do if you're a planking pro. Isometric exercises are also suitable for improving grip strength. Read more about grip strength training here.

Static exercises are particularly useful to get the to strengthen stabilizing muscles. The core in particular benefits from isometric training. The core muscles are supportive in many strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts or bench presses. You have to do “hold work” here. You can train them very well with isometric exercises like the forearm plank. A big advantage: In addition to strengthening the superficial muscles, you also strengthen them Deep muscles.

Isometric training is also great for getting the Mind-muscle connection to improve. It says muscles are more likely to grow if you focus on them mentally while exercising. And this can work particularly well with holding exercises, as you can concentrate fully on the stressed areas and are not distracted by movements. (1)

Cons of isometric exercises

Isometric training can also have negative effects. Due to the lack of dynamism in the execution of the exercise, the Blood flow to the muscles slowed down. This means that metabolic products are more difficult to remove. This can lead to over-acidification of the muscles. However, there are also strength athletes who consciously play with this type of undersupply in order to prepare their muscles for extreme loads.

Another disadvantage: holding a position tempts the To hold your breath. When moving, it is often easier for us to let our breath flow. If you don't take in enough oxygen, one will develop Insufficient supply of the muscles and other organs. In the worst case, your circulation will be limp. It is therefore all the more important to make sure that you continue to breathe consistently even during isometric exercises.

On top of that, isometric exercises your muscles a lot train in isolation. You are promoting the increase in strength, but not the interaction of individual muscle chains. That is why it is not advisable to concentrate purely on isometric training.

Overview of advantages and disadvantages


Benefits of isometric trainingDisadvantages of isometric training
- increases maximum strength

- trains endurance

- creates the basis for increasing performance in dynamic exercises

- promotes the stabilizing muscles

- strengthens the deep muscles

- improves the mind-muscle connection

- Muscles are not supplied with sufficient blood

- can lead to an insufficient supply of the muscles

- does not promote the interaction of the muscles


tip: For effective muscle building, one is recommended Combination of isometric and dynamic exercises. For example, you can hold the lowest position in the squat or take static breaks during the pull-up to increase the training stimulus. With isometric elements you can extend the time your muscles are under tension.

Who are isometric exercises for?

Isometric exercises are suitable for all training levels. Both beginners and advanced learners benefit from it.

Incorporating isometric exercises into your training plan makes sense if you:

  • want to increase your strength and endurance.
  • want to strengthen your core.
  • want to improve yourself in the basic strength training exercises such as squats, pull-ups, and deadlifts.
  • want to train your grip strength.
  • Are injured and want to strengthen your muscles in isolation, without much exercise.

Isometric exercises are always an optimal addition to your training routine. It is not without reason that they are used both in the health-oriented fitness scene and in competitive sports. Isometric training is also popular in the rehabilitation sector, as you can strengthen your muscles even when you are lying down.

What should you watch out for in isometric exercises?

If you want to reap the benefits of isometric training, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Don't forget to breathe: Make sure to keep breathing calmly during the exercises to regulate your blood pressure and supply your muscles with sufficient oxygen.
  2. Regenerate after training: No movement, so no break? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! Even if isometric exercises are minimally dynamic, your muscles are maximally stressed. So make sure you get enough rest between training units and provide your body with enough nutrients after the workout, for example with our Recovery Aminos.
  3. Technology comes first: Static exercises are all about endurance. The goal is to keep a plank as long as possible. But the technology shouldn't fail. So always make sure that you are holding a position correctly. Execution takes precedence over duration.
  4. Eat purposefully: If your goal is to gain muscle and build strength, isometric exercises can get you moving. But only if you eat accordingly. Your body needs energy in the form of carbohydrates and proteins as well as healthy fats and enough minerals, vitamins and trace elements. Here you can find our nutrition plan for building muscle.
  5. Take your time: Many isometric exercises are challenging. You can't do a handstand or plank for five minutes right now. See isometric training as a long-term challenge and improve little by little.

7 isometric exercises

Here are seven isometric exercises you can try right at home:


Lie on your stomach on the floor and place your hands under your shoulders.

Keep the neck as relaxed as possible and straight as an extension of the spine, fixing a point between your hands. Make sure not to pull your head back; now press your palms into the ground and push yourself up. Use only your toes and hands to support your body. Build tension throughout your body by pulling your belly button inward, pushing your knees, and tensing your buttocks tight. Your body forms a straight line - avoid both a hollow back and a rounded back.

tip: In order not to sag in the upper back, deliberately push your shoulders away from the floor as if you were hunching over a cat.

Do you want to hold the plank for 5 minutes at a time? No problem: Our 30-day plank challenge is here!

Single arm plank

With the one-armed plank, you start in the high support. To do this, position your hands below the shoulders, get your upper and lower body in the air so that your body forms a line and hold the plank position. After a few seconds, raise one arm without losing your balance. The higher you raise your arm in the air and stretch out, the more tension you have to build up in the core to keep your balance.

Side plank

Start in a side position: your elbow is below your shoulder and your forearm is parallel to the end of the mat on the floor. Extend your legs. They lie on top of each other and are in line with your buttocks and upper body. Press the bottom edge of your foot and your forearm into the mat. Push your hips parallel upwards towards the ceiling. Don't sag! Consciously activate your lateral abdominal muscles and hold the position. Then switch sides.

tip: The exercise becomes a lot more difficult if you support yourself with the palm of your hand instead of your forearm. To do this, position your hand below your shoulder.


Lie flat on your stomach. The legs are long and the arms stretched out over the head. Your forehead is on the floor. Alternatively, you can use your hands as a pillow. Now lift your arms and legs at the same time, stretch them out and tense your entire body. Hold the position. The range of motion can be minimal. It is important that the neck remains relaxed and in line with the spine.


tip: The isometric exercise is a little easier if you just lift your arms or legs and hold this position.

Wall sit

This isometric exercise is great for your buttocks and thighs. Use a wall as a backrest and sit against it. The legs are at a 90 degree angle, as if you were sitting on a chair. Your knees are over your heels. Tense your buttocks and hold this position.

Glute Bridge

Lie on your back flat on the floor and bend your legs so that you can just barely touch your heels with your fingertips. You can place your arms next to your upper body. Tense your buttocks and press your heels into the mat. Now lift your pelvis so that your lower back, buttocks and thighs form as straight a line as possible. Hold the position.

tip: If that's too easy for you, you can try the one-legged bridge. You alternately stretch one leg in the air. Slide your heel towards the ceiling and press your other foot into the floor. Come to the high end position and stop here.


A good isometric exercise for the arms is the chin-up. Here you combine dynamic and static elements. Grasp the pull-up bar in the underhand grip, that is, the thumbs point outwards. Pull your body up until your arms form a 90 degree angle. Hold this position.

tip: If you can't do a full pull-up, you can start on a box. Stand on it and let yourself slide down in a controlled manner from above until your arms have reached a 90 degree position. Stop here.


  • Isometric exercises are about holding a position for as long as possible, for example the forearm support.
  • Isometric exercises are static exercises that do not require any pushing or pulling movements or aids.
  • In isometric training, a muscle is contracted and kept at maximum tension without changing its length.
  • Isometric training can increase strength and endurance, improve the muscle-mind connection and strengthen the stabilizing deep muscles.
  • Isometric exercises are ideal for strengthening the core and training grip strength.
  • A combination of isometric and dynamic exercises is useful for effective muscle building.
At foodspring, we only use high-quality sources and scientific studies that support our statements in articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn how we check facts so that our articles are always correct, reliable and trustworthy.