Motionless Exercise

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Isometric pushup

The very concept of "motionless exercise" may seem like something of a contradiction. If you don't move, then how on earth can you possibly exercise? If that's really true, wouldn't you be able to get fit from watching sitcom reruns? The fact is, there is something to the claims of isometric, or "motionless" exercise, but before you get too excited, the whole truth is a little more complicated.

What Is Isometric Exercise?

Isometric exercise is the "real" name for motionless exercise. Unlike traditional weight training, isometric exercise requires you to press against an immovable object. Even though your body isn't moving, you're still challenging your muscles as you engage them during the exercise.

Motionless Exercise Program

The gist of the motionless exercise program is to grab or press your body against things that won't budge for a designated period of time. Common isometric exercises may include pushing against your own body (pressing hands together in front of you) or pushing against a wall, cabinet or other piece of heavy furniture. You can apply the same concept to static exercises like wall squats or planks, where you're pressing against the wall or floor to hold a specific exercise position.

An isometric exercise program doesn't have to be particularly complicated, especially when used in conjunction with regular training like weight training and jogging. Here are some simple isometric exercises you can do:

Chest and triceps

  • Do a half push-up off the floor and hold it halfway up.
  • Put your hands together in front of your chest and push together.

Shoulders

  • Stand on a box under a pull-up bar and press up.
  • Stand in a doorway and press the back of your hands against the frame.

Arms

  • Put one fist on top of the other and press them against each other.
  • Grab a bar or piece of equipment that is bolted down and pull as you would do a bicep curl.

Back

  • Lie down on a bench with a bench press rack. Grab the bar and lift yourself up a few inches, holding the position with your back engaged.
  • Do a half pull-up and hold halfway up.

Legs

  • Do a one-leg lunge and hold near the bottom.
  • Lock the bar about halfway in a smith-machine and push up as if you were doing a squat.
  • Perform a wall squat, pressing your back against the wall while pressing your heels into the floor.

Shapely Secrets

Programs like Shapely Secrets use the concept of isometric exercise to sell their exercise routines. These programs provide a series of isometric exercises to target all the major muscle groups in a matter of minutes. While these programs boast positive results, the reviews are mixed - some individuals claim the program works, while others don't get results. If you want to try the program, most users suggest purchasing it through a third party, like eBay or Amazon, in order to avoid the pitfalls of Shapely Secrets' customer service. You won't get the 30 day money-back guarantee, but you may avoid some of the headache.

Is Motionless Exercise Worth Trying?

Generally speaking, motionless exercise is a great supplement to a broader exercise program that incorporates cardio and full range of motion exercises. If you're just starting an exercise program or you're concerned about exacerbating an injury, isometric exercises could be the way for you to enhance your fitness as you work up to a more varied routine.

Motionless Exercise