What Isometric Exercises Can You Do to Work Out Your Pecs?
When you perform isometric exercises, the resistance is supplied by a fixed object such as a wall, the floor or even your own body. It can take some time, but isometric exercises will effectively build muscle. If you're shooting for increased chest size, for example, performing isometric exercises that target or enlist your pectoral muscles will boost your chest mass -- and the bonus is that you can do them almost anywhere.
When you hear "chest press", you probably think of an exercise done on a machine or with free weights, but an isometric chest press requires nothing more than your own two arms to execute. You simply sit with your back straight or stand upright and grasp your hands together, holding them up in front of your chest. Press them against each other with as much intensity as you can while flexing your pectorals. Hold the exercise for 10 to 15 seconds before relaxing for five seconds. Perform three sets of eight to twelve reps, with a two-minute rest between sets.
Push-ups might seem old fashioned when compared to modern exercise machines and popular workouts, but there's a reason push-ups have endured: they don't require specialized equipment and they effectively build muscle and strength. A typical push-up isn't considered an isometric exercise but it becomes one if performed in a specific way. Start in a typical push-up position and breathe out as you slowly bend your arms, descending half-way down to the floor. Hold your body suspended at the half-way position for 20 to 30 seconds, keeping your muscles taut and maintaining tension in your pectoral muscles. Then slowly lower yourself to the floor, resting for 30 to 60 seconds before repeating. Do three sets of six to ten reps, resting two minutes between sets.
Usually flys are done with dumbbells but if you want to execute the same exercise isometric-style all you need is an open door. Begin the isometric flys by standing in the doorway with your feet about shoulder-width distance apart. Brace your hands, palms flat, against the wall on each side of the doorjamb, about chest high. Lean chest first into the doorway as you breathe out and press your hands to the wall. Tense your pectoral muscles and keep them tight as you hold the exercise for 30 seconds, and then slowly relax for five to ten seconds. Complete three sets of eight to ten repetitions with a break of one to two minutes between sets.
Mix It Up
Although isometric chest exercises will garner larger pectoral muscles for you, they're most effective when used with other types of exercise. The Encyclopedia of Health recommends combining isometric exercise with weight lifting and aerobic exercise whether your goal is a bodybuilder's physique or improving your overall fitness.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.