Lay a foundation with these moves, then build something awesome.
Whether you’re vying for a deadlift or marathon PR, your core is at the center of your performance. These five isometric holds from Andy Speer, C.S.C.S., creator of the Men’s Health Anarchy workout series, will help build the core you need to reach your goals.
Isometrics are a simple concept: You contract your muscles as hard as possible, but you’re not working to move anything. You can use isometric reps to improve your big lifts at the sticking points—but they’re also extremely effective for training the core.
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5 Isometric holds that will improve almost everything else you do. All of these holds can be programmed as part of your warm up, as a ‘core’ move in a circuit or focus on a move independently, working to add volume(duration) over time. Pick one or two moves per day focus. Warm Up- 3x 10-20 sec in your warm up circuit. Pick one or two. Circuit- Work for 30-45sec. This may mean 3x 10s hold: 5 sec rest or a straight 30s hold. Independent- Goal is to work up to 5 sets 30s hold: 30s rest. *The one exception is the compression holds. 30s is brutal. Work to 5 sets of 15s hold: 45s rest. Ring Support – This could be the most valuable support position, so much going on. Shoulder stability, hip/ ab control, chest, triceps, lats firing. Keys here- pushing your hands down towards the floor and in towards your thighs. Eventually work to externally rotate your arms (turning thumbs out, palms forward). Hips are tucked, abs tight. Start with 3x 10s holds per set. Tuck Hold on Parelletes – Another support position. Still pushing down, also pushing your hips forward (you’ll feel triceps and lats fire). Start with 3x 10s holds per set. Planche Plank – Maintaining a hollow body position, push through your toes and pull back with your hands. Rock forward to a point where you begin to feel your wrists, shoulders and lats. Hold for 10 seconds, rock back to plank position. Start with 5 x 10s holds, resting 10-20s between holds. Reverse Plank – Key here is pulling shoulders back, as if you’re wrapping your upper back around a telephone pole, while keeping your abs tight and ribs pulled down. Legs locked, feet together. Heels drive down into the floor. Glutes are fired. Start with 3x 20s holds with 20s rest. Compression Pike – As mentioned this one is tough, but incredibly valuable. Keep your legs straight, quads locked. The closer your hands are to your feet, the more challenging the hold becomes. Start with 3-5 sec holds x 3 per set. Have fun with these and have an awesome day!!! . . . . #freezeframe #isometric #hold #gymnastics #core #abs #stability #challenge #strength
For the first no-movement move, a ring support, focus on pushing your hands down forcefully toward the floor and in toward your thighs, and keeping your shoulders back in a proud position. This will help you lock your shoulders in place, engage your triceps, and light up your lats. Keep your body in a tense, straight line, squeezing your core to prevent any arch in your low back.
Start with a neutral grip (palms facing your thighs), but gradually work to turn your palms forward; in the long-term, you’ll be improving your shoulder stability this way.
The second exercise is a tuck-hold on parallettes. Just like in the ring support, the goal is to drive down with your hands to help you create total-body tension. While keeping your upper-body and core braced, the real challenge here is to push your hips forward in front of your hands.
This is an advanced exercise, so if you aren’t able to hold the tuck-hold, stick to the isos that are challenging, but doable, to build to core strength needed to crush this one. If you don’t have parallettes, you can perform this exercise with your hands flat on the floor, but it will be even more challenging that way.
The third exercise is called a planche plank, and progresses your typical planks with a smaller, offset base of support. Maintaining a high plank/hollow-body position, push through your toes and pull back with your hands to rock your torso forward. Keep your mid-back slightly rounded and your glutes tight.
For number four, a reverse plank, keep your shoulders pulled back “as if you’re wrapping your upper back around a telephone pole,” Speer says. Pull your abs tight and ribs down. Drive your feet into the floor to help you actively squeeze your glutes. If you feel pain in your front shoulder, sit this one out; it can be demanding on your shoulder flexibility.
Last up, the fifth iso is a compression pike, and it’s great in that it’s completely scalable. “The closer your hands are to your feet, the more challenging the hold becomes,” he says.
Speer recommends hitting one to two of these exercises per day, performing them as part of your warmup, a core move in a circuit, or a standalone exercise within your workout. Here’s how to program them each way:
- Warmup: Perform 3 10- to 20-second holds, resting for equal time.
- Circuit: Work for a total of 30 to 45 seconds per round. Start by breaking it into 10-second holds with 5 seconds of rest, working up to one straight 30- to 45-second hold.
- Standalone: Work up to 5 30-second holds, with 30 to 45 seconds of rest. For the compression pike, stick to 5 sets of 15-second holds with 45 seconds of rest.
Author: K Aleisha Fetters
Source: Men’s Health: Want to Do Everything Better? Try Isometric Core Holds.