Jimmy Pena's Power Rack Training Series, Part 3: Isometrics

To get past a sticking point or add some volume, try these intense, isometric exercises.

Intro | Reverse Movements | Partial Movements | Isometrics

Practitioners of martial arts and yoga have been using isometric exercises for thousands of years. Static contractions of certain positions are still being utilized by fitness and strength experts to increase strength and power production.

Power comes from force, and isometrics produce more force than positive contractions. Isometric exercises also activate more motor units than isotonic exercises.

Power Rack Training Series Isometrics
Watch The Video - 3:34


To do an isometric exercise, press, pull, or push as hard as you can against weights, safeties, or surfaces that are immoveable. Holding these contractions offers no rest and no joint movement. You can apply isometric training to a variety of lifts—bench press, overhead press, squats, biceps curl, etc.

Because you aren't going to be moving, you'll be using seconds as repetitions. For example, one second is equal to one rep; ten seconds are equal to ten reps.

Power racks work great for isometric exercises. Not only are there safety bars or pins that you can use for resistance, there are many different levels from which to change the height, and therefore the angle of your exercise.

It's important to change the angle of your exercise so you can strengthen your muscles in their entire ranges of motion. That way, when you go back to regularly moving exercises, you'll find you're stronger throughout a lift.

If you're looking to add some strength, get past that 175 pound overhead press, gain some volume, or try something new, these isometric exercises will be a great addition to your training regimen.

Day 1: legs
1

Barbell Squat (isometric movement, shown without rack)

3 levels at differnt heights
3 sets each level with 10-second holds; 1-2 minutes rest 2 minutes rest
Barbell Full Squat Barbell Full Squat
Remember when the bar is underneath the safeties the amount of weight doesn't matter, so you don't need to load up the bar. Simply press against the safeties with incredible force for the designated number of seconds. Press, rest, repeat.

2

Leg Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps
2 minutes rest
Leg Press Leg Press

3

Seated Leg Curl

3 sets of 10-12 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

4

Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 10-12 reps
1-2 minute rest
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift

Day 2: Chest/Shoulders
Chest
1

Bench Press Isometrics (Isometric Movement, Shown without rack)

3 Levels at different heights
3 sets each level with 10-second holds; 1-2 minutes rest
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
Remember when the bar is underneath the safeties the amount of weight doesn't matter, so you don't need to load up the bar. Simply press against the safeties with incredible force for the designated number of seconds. Press, rest, repeat.

2

Incline Dumbbell Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

3

Dips - Chest Version (weighted)

3 sets of 10-12 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Dips - Chest Version Dips - Chest Version

4

Incline Cable Fly

3 sets of 10-11 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Incline Cable Flye Incline Cable Flye

Shoulders
5

Barbell Shoulder Press (Isometric Movement, Shown without rack)

3 Levels at different heights
3 sets of each level with 10-second holds; 1-2 minutes rest
Barbell Shoulder Press Barbell Shoulder Press
Remember when the bar is underneath the safeties the amount of weight doesn't matter, so you don't need to load up the bar. Simply press against the safeties with incredible force for the designated number of seconds. Press, rest, repeat.

6

Upright Barbell Row (wide-grip)

3 sets of 8-10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Upright Barbell Row Upright Barbell Row

7

dumbbell Lateral Raise

3 sets of 10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

8

Reverse Machine Fly

3 sets of 10 reps
1-2 minute rests
Reverse Machine Flyes Reverse Machine Flyes

Day 3: Abs/Calves
Abs
1

Hanging Leg Raise

3 sets to failure
30-60 seconds rest
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

2

Double Crunch

3 sets to failure
30-60 seconds rest
Crunches Crunches

3

Plank

3 sets of 60 seconds
30 seconds rest
Plank Plank

Calves
4

Standing Calf Raises

4 sets of 12, 12, 20, 20 reps
1 minute rest
Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

5

Seated Calf Raise

3 sets of 15 reps
1 minute rest
Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

Day 4: back
1

Bent-Over Row (isometric movement, shown without rack)

3 Levels at different heights
3 sets each level with 10-second holds; 1-2 minutes rest
Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row
Remember when the bar is underneath the safeties the amount of weight doesn't matter, so you don't need to load up the bar. Simply press against the safeties with incredible force for the designated number of seconds. Press, rest, repeat.

2

Lat Pull-down

2 sets of 8-10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

3

Seated Cable Row (medium grip)

2 sets of 10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Seated Cable Rows Seated Cable Rows

4

Lying T-Bar Row

2 sets of 10-12 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Lying T-Bar Row Lying T-Bar Row

Day 5: arms
Biceps
1

Barbell Curl (isometric movement, shown without rack)

3 Levels at different heights
3 sets each with with 10-second holds; 1-2 minutes rest
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

2

Preacher Curl

2 sets of 8-10 reps
1-2 minute rest
Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

3

Drag Curl

2 sets of 10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Drag Curl Drag Curl

4

Incline Dumbbell Curl

2 sets of 10-12 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Incline Dumbbell Curl Incline Dumbbell Curl

Triceps
5

Skullcrusher Isometrics (Isometric movement, shown without rack)

3 Levels at different heights
3 sets each level with 10-second holds; 1-2 minutes rest
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press
Remember when the bar is underneath the safeties the amount of weight doesn't matter, so you don't need to load up the bar. Simply press against the safeties with incredible force for the designated number of seconds. Press, rest, repeat.

6

Bench Dip (weighted)

2 sets of 8-10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Bench Dips Bench Dips

7

Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

2 sets of 10 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

8

Cable Kickback (shown with dumbbell)

2 sets of 10-12 reps
1-2 minutes rest
Tricep Dumbbell Kickback Tricep Dumbbell Kickback


Intro | Reverse Movements | Partial Movements | Isometrics