Unleashing the Power of Isometric Training for Runners: Benefits and Techniques

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Today, I’m about to introduce you to a workout routine that will push your limits and take your fitness to new heights. And the best part? You won’t need a single piece of equipment, gym membership, or even a personal trainer by your side. Intrigued? Let me unveil the world of isometric exercises!

Now, I must admit, when I first stumbled upon isometric training during my adventures with the famous P90X workout program, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, as a runner, I thrive on the freedom of movement, the thrill of conquering the outdoors, and the bustling streets. The idea of staying put in one place and holding a seemingly never-ending pose didn’t exactly excite me. But let me tell you something – isometric exercises pack a powerful punch.

Picture this: you’re in the comfort of your own home, no need to step foot outside, and yet you’re about to embark on a workout that will challenge every muscle in your body. Isometric exercises are all about holding a static position, activating multiple muscle groups simultaneously, and building strength and endurance like never before.

Now, are you ready to rise to the challenge? Let’s dive into the world of isometric training.

Isometric Exercises– The Simple Definition

Alright, let’s dive into the fascinating world of isometric training! Picture this: you’re in the midst of a workout, muscles engaged, but there’s one catch—no movement allowed.

That’s right, with isometric exercises, you’ll experience the power of static strength training. During these exercises, your muscles will contract and tense up, but without any noticeable changes in muscle length or joint angle.

Now, you might be wondering who typically ventures into the realm of isometric training. Well, it’s no surprise that physical therapists, Pilates trainers, and weightlifters are among the fitness aficionados who embrace these exercises. But here’s the exciting part: as a runner, you can also reap incredible benefits by incorporating isometric exercises into your strength training routine.

Research and studies have shown that isometric training can enhance muscle strength, stability, and endurance. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that isometric exercises can lead to significant improvements in muscular strength and performance.

Another study from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports discovered that isometric training can effectively improve joint stability and reduce the risk of injuries.

By integrating isometric exercises into your routine, you’ll target specific muscle groups, build strength in a controlled manner, and improve overall stability. Whether you’re focusing on your core, glutes, or lower body, isometric exercises allow you to activate multiple muscle fibers simultaneously, laying the groundwork for improved running form and efficiency.

Imagine this: as you hold a challenging isometric pose, your muscles are firing up like a well-coordinated symphony, creating a solid platform of strength and stability. It’s like unlocking the secret key to enhanced running performance. So, my fellow runners, don’t miss out on the incredible benefits that isometric training has to offer. Add these exercises to your repertoire and watch as your running game reaches new heights.

Isometric Exercises Benefits For Runners

Let’s talk about the incredible benefits that isometric training brings to the table. Prepare to be amazed!

First and foremost, let’s address convenience. Isometric training is the epitome of simplicity and accessibility. It’s like having a personal workout genie at your disposal. All you need is yourself, maybe a comfy mat if you prefer, and you’re ready to embark on your fitness journey. No need for fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships.

Now, here’s the beauty of isometric exercises—they deliver maximum impact in minimal time. So, even if your schedule is jam-packed and time is not on your side, you can still squeeze in an effective workout without compromising your other commitments.

One of the most remarkable benefits of isometric training is its ability to boost strength and endurance simultaneously. Research studies have shown that isometric exercises engage nearly all of the motor units in your muscles, resulting in increased strength and improved stamina. It’s like activating an army of muscle fibers, unleashing their full potential to conquer any physical challenge.

And the best part? You can achieve this without any equipment or external resistance—just your own bodyweight against the force of gravity. It’s like harnessing the power within to push your limits and emerge stronger than ever.

But wait, there’s more! Isometric training also has a hidden secret—it enhances flexibility. It’s like a two-for-one deal, giving you both strength and flexibility in a single package. By holding those intense static positions, your muscles adapt and become more pliable, improving your range of motion and overall flexibility. This not only enhances your performance in running and other physical activities but also helps prevent pesky injuries from slowing you down.

Now, here’s a game-changer—low impact. Isometric exercises are a runner’s dream, especially during recovery days or weeks. These workouts are gentle on your joints, providing a nurturing environment for your body to heal and rebuild. They target specific problem areas, like the quads, hips, calves, and back, helping correct muscle imbalances that may hinder your performance.

6 Isometric Exercises For Runners

Get ready to ignite your core, engage your glutes, and unleash a symphony of muscle activation throughout your entire body! The routine I’m about to share with you is like a fiery workout conductor, orchestrating strength and resilience in every move.

But here’s the exciting part—consistency is the key to reaping the rewards. By incorporating this routine into your regular training, you’re not only on your way to improving your running posture but also fortifying your body against those pesky overuse running injuries. Consider it a powerful suit of armor for your running adventures!

Now, let’s dive into the routine. Each exercise is designed to be held for one to two minutes, allowing you to truly feel the burn and challenge your muscles to their fullest potential. It’s like savoring each moment, immersing yourself in the intensity, and emerging stronger than ever.

Remember, transitions are just as important as the exercises themselves. Take a glorious 30-second rest between each move, allowing your body to recover and prepare for the next challenge.

To complete one circuit, perform each exercise in the prescribed order. Feel the rhythm of the routine as you progress from one move to the next, building momentum and intensity with each repetition. And don’t forget to infuse your journey with personalization. Rest for 30 seconds to one minute between each circuit, adjusting the duration based on your fitness level and the time you have at hand. I

1. Isometric Calf Exercise


Strong calves are key for efficient and pain-free running.

Good news is isometric calf raises strengthen the larger, outermost muscle that is in charge the size and shape of your calves.

Proper Form

Start by standing tall on the edge of a step or on a sturdy box, with your feet shoulder width apart and knees straight.

Next, rise up onto your toes and try to balance your bodyweight on the balls of your feet.

If you have any balance issues here, then feel free to grab a chair or a wall if necessary.

Hold the position for one full minute then slowly lower your heels to starting position.

Remember these are not your typical calf raises, so hold the pose for as long as you can with good form.

Feel the burn, welcome it, and hold it for longer as you get stronger and fitter.

2. Isometric Leg Extensions


This move mainly targets the quadriceps—muscles at the front of your thighs—as well as the hips flexors.

Strong hip flexor and quads have been shown by study to reduce the risks of runner’s knee and other overuse injuries.


Proper Form

Sit on a chair with your tailbone firmly against the back of the chair, hands resting on the chair with both feet flat on the floor.

Next, while gazing ahead and keeping the back straight, slowly extend your right leg out in front of you, engage your quads, and reach your toes toward your shin as much as you can without losing form.

Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute, then lower down to starting position and change sides.

3. Isometric Wall Chair


This beast of an exercise boosts endurance and strength in the quads, glutes, and calves—all major running muscles.

So it’s really a lower body exercise per excellence.

The isometric wall chair can also help you improve flexibility and mobility in your lower body.

Proper Form

Stand with your upper back and back of your head against the wall.

Keep your feet about two feet out in front of you.

Next, while holding your arms across your chest, lower yourself in a slow and controlled manner down by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Hold this squat position for one full minute, then slowly press back up to starting position.

If this pose was too easy, you can always up the ante by alternating between lifting your right foot for a few seconds then your left.

Additional Resource – 13 Exercises to improve running Skills

4. Split Squat


If you have weak glutes and quads, then you are running a high risk of runner knee and a plethora of other overuse injuries.

So ward off the risks by doing split squats.

This iso move focuses mainly on the glutes and quads, and will also help you boost hip flexor mobility and improve overall lower body flexibility.

Proper Form

Assume an athletic stance with back straight and core engaged, then step into a lunge position , making sure your toes are pointing straight ahead.

Next, make the pose more challenging by sinking down until your front knee is bent to a 90 degrees and your back knee nearly touches the floor.

This is the split squat position.

Hold for 30 seconds to one full minute, then push yourself back up to starting position, then switch sides.

5. Forearm Plank


This is a great move to increase strength and endurance in your core muscles and shoulders.

Proper Form

Assume a plank position with the forearms on a well padded mat, back straight, and body forming a straight line.

Next, tighten your abs, squeeze your glutes, and hold the pose for one to two minute to complete one set.

Additional reading – How to Prevent Overuse Injury

6. Squat Hold


An ideal move for increasing endurance and strength in all major running muscles—think glutes, quads and calves.

Holding the squat can also help you improve flexibility and mobility in your lower body.


Proper Form

Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, core activated and back straight.

Next, bend your knees and squat down so your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Imagine that you are sitting on imaginary chair, and hold the pose for one to two minutes.

Bonus Isometric Exercises For Runners

Static Lunge

Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, glutes and calves.

Proper Form:

Stand feet hip-width apart, then step forward your right foot two to three feet in front of you.

Make sure to keep your hands on your hips, back flat, chest up, the entire time.

Next, while engaging your core, bend your knees and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, slowly lower your left knee to within an inch of the ground, then hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute.

Last up, return to starting position, and switch sides to complete one set.

Isometric Push-up

Targeted muscles: Chest, biceps and back.

Proper Form:

Assume a proper push-up position with back straight, hands aligned with your chest with the fingers pointing straight forward.

Make sure your legs are straight and body forming a straight line from head to ankles.

Next, bend your elbows and lower down until your chest is about two to three inches off the floor.

Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute, then push back up to starting position.


Muscles Targeted: The core and lower back.

Proper Form:

Begin by laying face down on your stomach, then extend your legs and arms as far forward and as far back you can.

Make sure to keep your neck and head in a neutral position.

Next, to perform the superman, simultaneously lift your arms and your legs slowly off the floor, forming an elongated “U” shape with your body, then hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.

For more challenge, try squeezing your lower back and/or holding a set of light dumbbell in each hand.

Glute Bridge

Muscles targeted: Core, glutes and lower back.

Proper Form:


Lie down on your back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Next, lift your hips up so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

Hold the position for 30 second to one minute, then slowly lower your body to starting position.

For more challenge, try lifting one leg off the floor, then extending it up toward the ceiling.

Static Sumo Squat

Muscles targeted: Glutes, Hip Adductors, quads, and calves.

Proper Form:

Begin standing with your feet wide apart, back flat and toes slightly turned out.

Next, while keeping your back straight and heels on the ground, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Then, press your forearms or elbows against the inside of your knees then hold the position for 30 seconds to one full minute.

Last up, press back up to starting position, then move to the next exercise.

For more challenge, hold a medicine ball or a weight plate in front of your chest instead of pressing your arms against the inside of the knees.

Isometric Pull-ups

Muscles Engaged: Biceps and lats.

Proper Form:

Begin by gripping the pull-up bar with a palms facing away from your body, or what’s knows as a pronated grip.

Next, perform the pull up as you normally would, but once your chin touches the bar height, hold yourself there for 20 to 30 seconds.

Hold it for more once you get used to the exercise.

Last up, lower slowly to the floor, and repeat the whole circuit two to three times

Isometric Training for Runners  – The Conclusion

Now the ball is in your court. Just make sure to do the above isometric exercises for runners at least once a week. That’s enough training to help you improve your athletic performance and become the best runner you can be.

In the meantime thank you for reading my post.

Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.

David D.

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