Todd Kuslikis

Todd Kuslikis

MMT, MPA
Knee Pain Specialist and Injury Prevention Expert

The 10 Minute Towel Isometrics Routine

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This workout focuses on concentrated and isolated isometric shoulder strengthening but can actually be considered a full-body isometric workout.

Written by: Coach Todd

 

What is an Isometric Exercise? 

Picture yourself holding a gallon of milk as you stand next to the fridge. Are your muscles working? Absolutely! Is your arm moving? I hope not, otherwise you’re stuck with spilled milk!

Isometric exercises are like holding a gallon of milk. Your muscles are activated, but your joints aren’t actually moving. 

Isometric strengthening can be a great way to increase strength, especially if you have some joint pain. This way you engage your muscles with less pressure in your joints. 

The workout uses, on each exercise, 2 of the 3 types of isometric holds as defined by my recently published e-book: “ Feel Good Strength.

Those types are:

Static – where muscles are tensed like holding the gallon of milk

Yielding – where you hold against a movable object in this case a towel

 

How To Breathe Properly During the Workout 

When we hold our breath during exercises we feel steadier; however, this is actually not a good thing! Think of it like blowing up a balloon as much as you can and then squeezing the balloon. That’s a lot of pressure on the balloon!

Holding our breath increases pressure in our body! Increasing pressure in our body isn’t great in general, but is worse for anyone with high blood pressure or are at a risk for a hernia. 

Don’t worry, breathing reduces that build-up of pressure in our body while we work out. An easy way to make sure you are breathing while you exercise is to count out loud. You cannot make noise with your mouth if you do not breathe! 

So if you are exercising and counting out loud, you know that you are breathing! 

 

Isometric Shoulder Exercise Routine

Equipment needed — your body; hand towel; motivation.

 

Lateral Raise 

lateral raise towel isometrics

Hold a towel with your  hands 12-18 inches apart in front of your belly button. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Tighten the entire body with your main focus on pulling with your left shoulder out and to the side. Hold (and count out loud!) for 10 seconds.

Remember: with isometric exercises the joint doesn’t actually move! So while your focus is on your left shoulder, someone watching you won’t actually see the L shoulder move more. 

One you have performed this exercise at belly button level, raise your arms about 15 degrees and perform again for a count of 10 seconds.

Repeat, moving 15 degrees up each time till you are at shoulder level. 

Once you get to shoulder level, start again, but this time focus on pulling with your right shoulder. 

Feel Good Life

Bow and Arrow

bow and arrow towel isometrics

Hold a towel at shoulder level in front of your chest. Tighten the entire body and pull against the towel for 10 seconds, then release. Don’t forget to count out loud to 10 to make sure you are breathing! 

Move your left arm 45 degrees to the left, tighten the entire body and pull against the towel with your left arm. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Move your left all the way to the left and tighten the entire body and pull against the towel.  Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Feel Good Life

Rope Pulling with Lunge 

rope pulling towel isometrics

Stand with feet about 12 inches apart. Grip towel in front of your body with one hand in front of your belly button and the other in front of your chest. Using your left leg, step into forward into a lunge but only move 15 degree into it.  Tighten the entire body and tighten the towel. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Deepen lunge to 30 degree and tighten the entire body and pull against the towel. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Move into full forward lunge and tighten the entire body and pull against the towel. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Duplicate on right.  Only difference, change hand position on towel.

Feel Good Life

Behind Neck Shoulder Pull

behind neck shoulder pull otwel isometrics

Stand with feet 12 inches apart.  Hold towel with hands 12-18 inches apart.  Position towel high on your neck.  From this position tighten the entire body and pull against towel. Hold 10-12 sec then release.

Keeping towel in back of neck, raise your left hand a couple inches above head and tighten the entire body and pull against the towel. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Raise left arm to full extension while still keeping towel as far back as possible.  Tighten the entire body and pull against the towel. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Repeat with right arm. 

Feel Good Life

Behind Neck Shoulder Pull Down 

Behind Neck Shoulder Pull Down towel isometrics

Stand with feet 12 inches apart. Hold one end of towel in right hand high on neck and drop the other end down back.  Bend your left arm behind your back and grab end of towel.  Do static contraction on whole body and tighten the entire body and pull against towel.  Hold 10-12 secs and release.

Keeping arms in same position, move right hand  about halfway up head and tighten the entire body and pull against towel. Release

Move right hand to top of head and tighten the entire body and pull against towel. Release.

Do the same thing on the other side.

Feel Good Life

Behind Back Arm Lift with Squat

Behind back Arm Lift and Leg Squat towel isometrics(Tighten entire body but focus mostly on tricep and shoulder muscles.)

Stand with legs shoulder width apart and towel at hip level behind your back.  Perform leg squat but only about 15 degrees. Do full body static and towel contraction for 12 to 15 secs then release.

Move to a 45 degree squat and raise towel half way up back.  Tighten the entire body and pull against towel.  Hold for 10 seconds, then release. 

Move to full squat and raise towel as high up back as possible.  Tighten the entire body and pull against towel. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

Once you get in the rhythm this is a great 10 minute shoulder routine you can perform at home! All you need is a towel, no gallon of milk required. 

If anyone has any questions feel free to ask them in the comment section below.

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3 Responses

  1. This is a great article. So nice to be able to do things with little equipment. thank you for explaining it.

    1. Of course, Christina! We appreciate you reading the article, and I'm glad you were able to take something away from it!

  2. Thank You so much Todd. This is EXTREMELY interesting, feel better just reading through it.
    Sorry, I haven’t downloaded any material yet, but I’m on the case. I’m still doing the exercises I picked up from Fb.
    My daughter has the Computer in the Church Office, so when she has a spare moment she’ll see to it.
    I’m still keeping up with ALL Your communications, so I know you’re still there. Loved the Family pics, ?
    Thank You for caring, Cinders,
    ( Cynthia is only for form filling etc. my friends use Cindy / Cinders). ?

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