It gets old. Anytime you search “isometric exercises for abs”, you get stuck with the same old plank exercises.
Although great for core training, can’t us fitness guys get a little more creative?
Which is exactly what you’ll get in this article. Effective isometric exercises for abs with a touch of exploration. You good with that?
Let’s start with the hollow body hold.
This one came straight from the top-secret gymnastics abs training manifesto… kind of.
My former abs training coach was an Olympic gymnast and he showed me some of his best abdominal moves…
So I’m paying it forward and giving you a small taste of what I’ve learned to end the frustration of abdominal training and give you some powerful isometric moves that WORK.
Exercise #1: Hollow Body Hold
The hollow body hold is the holy grail of gymnastics core training. In fact, I’d be so bold to say it’s the #1 isometric exercise for abs development…
Master this move and you’ll take your core training to new heights. And really begin transforming your midsection.
How To Do It (video below)
Start on your back. Bend your knees and lift your legs so you’re making a 90 degree angle at your hips.
Tuck your chin so your head is no longer on the ground. Your shoulders should be slightly off the floor.
Take both of your arms and extend them down, toward your feet. Be sure to keep your arms tight to your body.
At this point, your lower back should be slightly rounded on the floor. You should not have an arch in your lower back. You will want to prevent this from happening throughout the duration of this isometric abs exercise.
With your lower back flat on the floor (no arch), slowly move your legs out and up. This should be a gradual movement.
Slowly, lower your legs so they are slightly off of the floor.
If you reach a point where your lower back begins to arch, return to a leg height position where you were able to maintain keeping your lower back on the floor.
When comfortable, you can then move your arms from the side of your body to behind your head.
Keep the small of your back on the floor, do not arch. Hold this position.
Congratulations, you’re now performing one of the best (if not, THE best) isometric exercises for abs development.
If you’re more of a step-by-step visual learned, check out the video below:
Exercise #2: Tuck Hold On Floor
This isometric movement requires balance. You’ll feel your entire set of abdominals being engaged. Everything from the upper and lower abs.
If you shake, that’s normal. Your stabilizers are working overtime to help you maintain proper positioning when performing this stomach shaping isometric exercise.
How To Do It (Video Below)
For this movement, start in a seated tuck position. Imagine sitting with your butt on the floor.
Your body slightly leaned back and your feet flat footed on the ground in front.
From there, lift your feet off of the floor. Bring your knees close to your chest.
Extend your arms straight forward. Maintain your balance and hold the position.
This is another one of the isometric exercises for abs you’ll see Olympic Gymnasts use to build a rock-hard midsection and strong core.
Here’s a video demo to give you a better idea:
Gold Medal Tip: One secret Olympic Gymnasts use to build jaw-dropping abs with insane strength is intentionally keeping their body tight when performing any movement.
You’ll even see this when they’re performing quadruple backflips on the floor or spinning their bodies like a twister during a parallel bar routine. Even when they transition from one move to the next.
Keep this in mind when performing any isometric exercise for your abs.
Don’t let any part of your body get lax. Keep it tight. You’ll notice the difference in your training, guaranteed.
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Exercise #3: Core Compression Hold
Next up, one of my favorite isometric exercises for abs… the core compression hold.
You may feel this exercise throughout your entire body. Core, legs, upper back, and arms. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
How To Do It (Video Below)
Start seated on your butt with your legs tight together and feet in front of you. Your hamstrings should be resting on the floor.
Place both hands on the floor in front of you (not just to the side). Palms on the ground. Slightly round your rear delts forward.
From this position, slowly raise your legs off the floor. Keep your body tight. And hold the position for as long as you can before lowering your legs back to the floor.
Skip to 7:23 on the video below for a visual:
Exercise #4: Ceiling Reach & Hold
Continuing on with our non-planking isometric exercises for abs, the ceiling reach and hold… which will torch your upper abdominals.
How To Do It
Start with your back laying on the floor. Have your knees bent and your feet fat on the ground.
Tuck your chin slightly and lift your upper back a little bit off the ground.
From this position, raise your arms up toward the ceiling. Reach. And Hold. Keeping the small of your back on the floor (as mentioned in abs exercise #1).
Exercise #5: Hanging Knee Raise Hold
Okay. This one only works if you’ve got something to hang on. Like a pull-up bar. Tree branch.
Or you can just do what this guy did and hang on a helicopter…
Either way, you’ll be off the floor for this one.
How To Do It
Grabbing onto a secure rail or bar above your head, raise your body off the floor.
With your knees together, slowly raise your legs, keeping them tucked, until your hip reaches a 75-90 degree angle and hold the position.
Do not swing. The goal is to stay as tight and sturdy as you can throughout the entire hold.
If you notice your grip giving way before your abs get fatigued, you may way to use wrist wraps for extra grip support so you can hold the hanging knee raise hold position longer.
After crushing this workout with proper form. And you feel comfortable with something more challenging…
Perform the same movement, yet with your legs straight in front of you, or straight in front of you with a slight bend.
Your ability to extend your legs straight will be a matter of flexibility. So you may have a slight bend in your knees.
That’s okay. All that matters is you keep your legs from raising and lowering at the hip.
Doing so, will give you a true isometric leg raise.
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Exercise #6: Ab Rollout Hold
You can use a couple pieces of equipment for this isometric abs exercise.
One being, the ab roller. The other being a stability ball. Choice is yours.
My two-cents: If you consider yourself a beginner, start with the stability ball when practicing this movement…
As you become more comfortable and are seeking a greater challenge, graduate to the ab roller.
How To Do It
If on a stability ball – kneel before your stability ball. Have a mat or soft surface you can rest your knees on. Place your hands firmly atop of the ball.
From this position, slowly move your hands forward along the stability ball. Your torso will extend forward and you’ll begin feeling the tension in your abs.
As your body extends forward and you hold this isometric move, be sure your lower back does not dip. Tilt your pelvis to prevent this from happening.
Hold this position.
If on an abs roller, start in the same position as with the stability ball.
Have your knees rest comfortably on a soft surface or cushion.
With your hands on the roller, slowly move the roller in front of you. Keep your abdominals tight. Do NOT rush.
Reach a position as flat as you can go without your lower back sinking. Once you find this position, hold it.
Exercise #7: Chair Hold
Here’s one you can do at the office or during the commercial break of your favorite TV show.
First and foremost, find a stable chair before performing this movement. This guy didn’t listen to me…
The chair hold is a gymnastics-like movement you can do seated. With that said, it’s NOT easy. So no assumptions going into this one.
How To Do It
Sitting in a sturdy chair, place hands on both sides of the chair and prop your body up using your upper body strength.
Your legs will already be in a 90 degree angle from starting in the seated position. So no changes there.
Just hold this isometric exercise and you’ve completed the chair hold.
Here’s a beginner tip
If you’re feeling weak with your upper body, you can perform the same movement just without propping your body up with your arms.
Simply raise your feet off of the ground and flex your abdominals. Hold this position as long as you can…
The beginner version will not feel as intense as the original chair hold, yet we all have to start somewhere. This is a good place to start if a beginner.
Exercise #8: L-Sit
You’ve worked all the way to this point. Probably the most challenging of all isometric exercises for abs. The L-sit.
Be sure to have something you can place on the ground to hold onto. Something like a pair of dumbbells or some perfect-push-up handles.
Just an object you can securely hold onto when performing the movement.
How To Do It
Keep your upper body upright. Shoulders back. And your legs straight and pointing forward.
Use your upper body to hold yourself off of the floor.
As you can guess, this position will challenge your entire body. Not just your abs. So be ready.
So there you have it. 8 isometric exercises for abs that aren’t boring ol’ planks. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with planks. I use them on myself and clients all the time.
Yet if you’re someone who wants to step away from the same-old and challenge your abs in a fresh way… this is it.
To be honest, I wouldn’t know much about these moves if it wasn’t for my former coach.
He showed me how I can get Olympic Abs from home. Since then, my abs (and training) has never been the same…
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