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Do you run into problems with your knees when you use weight resistance on your legs?
Well, most people think of resistance training as taking the joints into a full range of motion, which is correct. What happens when you do this? Depending on the amount of weight you use, you could seriously impact your joints the wrong way, especially your knees.
Is there an alternative way to train your legs without the full range of motion you use in weight training?
Isometric exercises for your legs are the answer to your problems. You probably didn’t know you could work your legs a different way, did you?
Just like there are concentric and eccentric muscle contractions, there are also the isometric muscle contractions. Verywell Health states that in an isometric muscle contraction, the muscle fires (or activates with a force and tension) but there is no movement at a joint. With no joint movement, you prevent the opportunity causing any unnecessary pain.
Isometric exercises are a unique form of training. But, what kind of exercises can you do with your legs?
Let’s take a look at three isometric exercises that you can use while training your legs.
3 Isometric Leg Exercises
Wall Squat with a Hold
On leg day, you can’t go through your workout without doing the age-old wall squat.
If you haven’t tried it before, do it now, you will feel an intense burn.
It is a great isometric exercise because it is great for beginners and intermediate lifters, plus it is easy on your knees.
To start, find yourself a wall to lean up against. Lean against the wall with your back and your feet about a foot and a half forward, placed at hip-width apart.
Now, slide down into a squat position contracting your abs, keeping them tight, and with your back flat against the wall.
The key to this move is to hold the position for no less than 15-20 seconds.
After getting used to the wall squat I’d recommend pushing your limits and stay in the wall squat for as long as you can, it will hurt but it will increase the muscle activation in your legs.
Performing a wall squat isometric exercise is a great opportunity to work on your breathing and helps you focus on your quads, hamstrings, and glutes with the intensity of the move.
To get the most out of an isometric wall squat, repeat the exercise for 10 sets for the standard 15-20 seconds each set.
Note: if you like this exercise then you’ll love doing the wall sit exercise as well.
Seated Leg Lift with a Hold
Now that you’ve gone through a wall squat, let’s take a look at the isometric leg exercise called a seated leg lift.
First, you will want to be seated, on the floor, up straight with one leg extended and the other’s foot flat on the floor.
Now, lift the heel of the extended leg off the floor about three inches and hold that position. What this does is isolates the quads and helps strengthen the knee joint as well as activate your thigh and hamstring muscles.
Again, the key to this move is to hold the move for 15-20 seconds for each set that you do.
It is recommended to perform 10 sets, but instead of sticking with the 15-20 seconds, push for 30 seconds plus.
The great thing about an isometric hold is the longer you hold a particular exercise, the more intense it becomes. Find the intensity that fits best for you.
Isometric Leg Curl
How do you feel about isometric leg exercises so far?
Stay with me, we have one more to look at.
Lastly, on our list of isometric leg exercises is the isometric leg curl.
This is another simple, yet effective isometric exercise you can perform just about anywhere.
First, find a flat surface, the floor, and lay on your stomach.
Begin with your knees bent and your feet flexed, sticking in the air, then lift your knees off the floor as you’re squeezing and contracting the muscles in the glute and hamstring muscles, hold for 15-20 seconds and release.
This is one complete rep, you will then want to repeat this exercise for a total of 10 times.
The isometric contraction involved with this exercise is great for tightening and toning your glutes.
Isometric Leg Exercises Video
Final Thoughts on Isometric Leg Exercises
There you have it, now you are three exercises smarter.
Use these exercises in your next leg workout and reap the benefits of no joint or knee pain. If you want a visual of how these are performed be sure to check out the video above.
Just like any other isometric exercise, focus on your form and contracting the targeted muscle.
You get out what you put in, so be sure to push yourself and find your limits. If you can turn the 20-second hold into a 30-second hold, do it, as the old saying goes, no pain no gain.