The core, or abdominal muscles, are one of the most important muscles in your body.
They keep your body aligned and protect your spine in activities that require a lot of abnormal movements. Why is this important? If you don’t have a strong core, it may lead to more back pain or injuries, especially if you workout.
Health benefits aside, of course, many people focus on the core to get a sexy set of six-pack abs, am I right?
While there are many benefits of isometric exercise, today we’ll focus on isometric exercises for core strength and abdominal development.
The problem with people today is they think all you need to do to strengthen your core and get six-pack abs is to perform crunches. Yes, crunches do work your upper ab muscles but the core is much bigger than that.
You need a variety of movements to work different muscles that will strengthen your overall core. One of the best types of core exercises you can perform are isometric exercises. Livestrong says, “they are great for use in rehabilitation and for increasing your strength”.
Isometric exercises consist of contractions without movements. There are a variety of isometric exercises for the core, let’s take a look at some of the best of them now.
Best Isometric Core Exercises for Strength and Abs
To perform a hollow hold isometric exercise, first begin by lying flat on your back.
From there keeping both legs together, lift your legs up off the ground until you form about a 30-degree angle.
After that, lift your upper back up just enough to be off the ground and keep your head aligned and straight (if you don’t keep your head aligned, in most exercises you could cause injury to your neck).
Now, hold your arms extended straight above your head and hold your position. It will take balance, but once you get the hold down, hold the exercise for 15-30 seconds before moving on.
For the V-Sit, you get to sit on your butt. So take a seat on the floor sitting upright.
Lift your feet up so they are just off the ground, not touching the floor, and hold them in that place.
WIth your feet up, extend your arms wide open, as if your going in for a hug.
From there, hold your position again for 15-30 seconds.
Pretty easy right?
Unilateral Loaded V-Sit
Now we are about to have fun with the unilateral loaded v-sit.
This is very similar to the standard v-sit exercise, the only difference is now we are adding a little weight.
So sit on the floor and lift your feet up just enough so they’re not touching the floor. Again sit as straight as you can, a little angle is ok.
Now, with a weighted ball in one hand, hold your arms extended out and hold the position.
After a 15-30 second set, switch hands and repeat the hold for another 15-30 seconds.
In this next isometric core exercise, we are going to play a dead bug.
Lay flat on your back and raise your right arm and hold it facing straight up with your left arm extended past your head, not touching the ground and parallel to the floor.
Now, take your left leg and lift it until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle, leaving your lower leg parallel to the floor. At the same time lift your right leg just slightly off the ground, keeping it straight and parallel to the floor.
Once you are in the position, hold it again for 15-30 seconds then do it again switching arms and legs.
Leg Lift Hold
I’m sure you are familiar with floor leg raises?
The leg lift hold is the same principle, except instead of going back down for the rep, you will be holding your legs at the top of the motion.
To start, lay flat on your back with your legs together.
Now, lift your legs off the ground and hold them at a 30-degree angle from the floor. To stay balanced, extend your arms out to your sides and place your hands on the ground, providing yourself support and leverage towards the end of the set.
It is important to keep your upper back and head off the ground to add the necessary stress to your core.
Elbow Plank and Hand Plank
If you have done a plank before, the elbow plank is right up your alley.
Without wasting any time, get into a plank position with your elbows directly underneath you. The idea of this move is to have your elbows holding all of your body weight.
Keep your back and butt straight, then hold. Much simpler, yet effective to activate your core muscles.
You will want to repeat for 2-3 sets at the standard 15-30 second holds.
Hand plank is another simple pose to perform. Instead of using your elbows, place your hands in front of you right beneath your shoulders while maintaining a straight back and butt.
Have you ever done a bulldog?
Neither have I, but we will get through this together!
The bulldog is similar to a plank but with a few different variations.
You will want to be in a plank position, place your hands in front of you on the floor with your arms extended, holding your weight.
Keeping your toes on the floor, bend your knees to just over 90 degrees without letting your knees touch the floor. It is ok to bend your hips to get into position.
Now hold this position for 15-30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 sets.
Now you are going to learn how to properly hold the superman pose.
The superman is a great exercise to build strength in your lower back.
Lay face first on the floor, a mat might be a good idea for this one. From there, extend your arms past your head and simultaneously lift your arms and arch your lower back, lifting your legs off the ground as if you were flying.
It is important to only look forward with this move to protect your neck.
Hold the superman pose for 15-30 seconds, but if you really want to challenge yourself.
Do a couple of rest-pause sets, so finish one set, take a few seconds break, and repeat.
Now that we’ve made it through the bulldog and superman, let’s try our luck with the bird dog.
The name is almost as creative as the move, first get into a dog pose, so your hands and knees on the floor.
Lift your right arm extended past your head, parallel to the floor, with your left hand holding your weight. At the same time, leave your right leg stationary and lift your left leg extending it straight and hold.
This can be a challenging exercise dealing with balance, core strength, and flexibility. After that switch sides and repeat.
The glute bridge is great for your core and also building strength in your glutes.
This is also a good isometric core exercise to add resistance to, the benefits are a firmer and toned butt!
But first let’s get the basics, lay flat on the floor, on your back.
From here, lay your arms to your sides and place your feet flat on the floor so your knees will be bent.
Now, using your glutes and core, lift your hips until your thighs and stomach are flush.
By this point, you should have your lower back off the floor, your upper back and feet should be the only part of your body supporting your weight. Once you have the position, hold for the standard 15-30 seconds.
Side Elbow and Hand Plank
You still with me?
We’re almost to the end but first, it’s time to do a side elbow and hand plank.
For this one, get on your side with a straight body.
For the side elbow plank, place your elbow underneath your side, just under your shoulder, and push yourself up and as you lift your hips, keeping your body aligned. The idea of this isometric core exercise is to use the side of your foot and your elbow to hold your weight as you use your hip and core strength to keep yourself up.
Once in place, hold your position for 15-30 seconds.
The hand plank only differs in one aspect. Instead of using your elbow, you will want to use your hand to hold your weight.
Just like the elbow plank, your hand should be aligned with your shoulder. The key to this move is to have your arm fully extended holding yourself up as you engage your core from balancing and holding yourself up.
Cross Knee Mountain Climber
Grab your gear because now we are going to climb a mountain with the next isometric core exercise, the cross knee mountain climber.
This move is a little more advanced than the previous exercises and is very effective.
To get started, get yourself into a hand plank form with your arms extended as if you were going to pull yourself up a mountain. Once you have your balance on your hands and toes, slowly twist your body with your right knee as you pull it underneath your left thigh, keeping your knee just above the floor without touching.
Hold that position for 15-30 seconds then alternate sides and repeat.
Take your time with this move, really focus on contracting your abs and your surrounding core muscles.
If the mountain climber wasn’t enough, now we are going to perform the v-sit reach through.
The v-sit reach through starts with lying on your back and legs straight. Lift both legs up and spread them creating a V shape.
The goal is to be able to reach through your V-shaped legs. Now, keeping your head and back straight, reach through the V shape with straight arms.
Just at the top of the move stop and hold for 15-30 seconds.
This move will help improve your core, and you can even spice things up a bit by performing reach through crunches in between your hold sets.
Video: 15 Must-Do Isometric Core Exercises For a STRONG Six Pack
Final Thoughts on Isometric Core Exercises
Isometric core exercises are not meant to replace your current core exercises, because there are benefits to core exercises that require joint movements, but they are a great addition to help you reach your goals.
If you want a great visual of how these are performed be sure to watch the video above.
The standard 15-30 second holds are just recommended, but you should really make that time longer the more advanced you become.
If you have a weak core, isometric exercises are a great choice to help strengthen and prevent injuries. Your spine can be very susceptible to injury without a strong core, so doing these exercises is not just a great way to strengthen the core and develop nice six-pack abs, but also a great way to prevent back injury (see core exercises that prevent lower back pain).
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