Core Strength Isometrics

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Written by: Jason Smith, Registered Physiotherapist, MSc(PT), CSEP-CPT, CIDN, FCAMPT

Looking to supplement your main lifts with some extra core strengthening exercises? 

Want a safe way to do so without provoking low back pain?


ISOMETRICS may be the answer to these needs. During isometric loading, a muscle group is loaded while maintaining consistent length (i.e. no movement is occurring). The muscle functions to maintain our position rather than change it. These exercises have gained popularity in research circles over the last number of years for their safe and effective application to increasing core strength, and their ability to mimic how these muscles most often function in daily life. Our core musculature often stabilizes our lumbar spine while we move through other joints, acting as a mechanism of force transfer from upper to lower body (think deadlifting, throwing, kicking, running, swinging a bat or club).

These simple exercise suggestions are designed to primarily load our “outer core musculature” including our rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and lumbar erectors. Our outer core also includes our gluteal and hip flexors groups, and our latissimus dorsi.

Try 1-3 sets of these isometric options, holding until the point of early technical fatigue.

1. Reciprocal Crawl
2. Isometric Deadlift / Rack Pull
3. Pallof Press
4. Side Plank
5. Front Plank
6.  Dead Bug Isometric Hold

Increase intensity of exercises 1, 4, and 5 by maintaining maximal abdominal muscle shortening/ posterior pelvic tilt.

Jason Smith GRSM Kitchener-South Physiotherapist
Registered Physiotherapist

Jay graduated from McMaster University in 2011 with a Masters of Physiotherapy. His previous education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology in 2009 from Western University. Jason has obtained his FCAMPT (Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy) designation. This designation is internationally recognized, and follows a comprehensive post-graduate training program that solidifies manual therapy skills, teaches advanced clinical reasoning, and allows him to perform spinal manipulation. Jay is also certified in Integrative Dry Needling, which he uses to release muscular restrictions throughout in the body. Jay is also a Certified Personal Trainer with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP-CPT). He enjoys working with high level athletes, especially towards the later stages of their rehab as they approach return to sport. In addition to this, Jay is a certified Sport First Responder, and former team physiotherapist for the Guelph Gryphon’s Men’s Varsity Rugby team. Jay is also certified in ImPACT Concussion Management, and is a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Specialist.

In his spare time, Jay enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family.

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