A Simple Seated Isometric Exercise Workout For Seniors

First of all, let me tell you that I am 70 years old and have been doing this basic exercise program, along with a few other activities for several years.

Since you may not be familiar with isometrics, just a quick summary.

These are exercises performed in which one muscle group, eg biceps (front of upper arm…bends arm), pulls or pushes against another muscle group, eg triceps (back of upper arm…extends arm) or an immovable object.

The muscle is tense in contraction or extension between seven and ten seconds.

I always count slowly to 10.

Caution, although the recommendation for faster results is to tense the muscle to 75% of its maximum capacity, there is no way to measure it and you are at higher risk of injury at first, so when starting out, only tense until you feel resistance and gradually you will begin to feel the “sweet spot”. Also, the supporting muscles may not be as strong as the main muscle being worked, and you don’t want to have to stop because you injured a smaller muscle.

There is a tendency during extreme exertion to hold the breath.

This is another little rule of thumb of mine. If I have to stop breathing to do that particular isometric exercise, I’m pushing myself too hard and risking injury…not just to the muscle, but to the heart as well.

The goal is to help you get and stay in shape, not to turn you into a professional athlete. Isometric exercises should never be your only exercises. You should walk or do other forms of aerobic activities, at least. It’s also a good idea to do some exercises that actually require movement, since an isometric contraction exercise doesn’t work a particular muscle through its full range.

So, by the way, I do some exercises of the same muscle in different positions.

At the end of the workout itself, I’ll give you a couple of tips to improve your result, both with isometric exercise training and adding a little aerobic activity in the process.


Get yourself a sturdy chair with no arms. The style of the kitchen table will do. Put it in position.

Now, walk around the house for a minute or two to “get the blood flowing.”

You’ll want to do the exercises one after the other once your body has become acclimated to isometric training, but don’t push it at first and always rest as much as you need between exercises. This is supposed to help you get healthier…not push you to become an Olympic-level athlete…or have a heart attack.

Slowly lower yourself to a seat in the chair… BUT…

Just before sitting down and still in a kind of skier’s pose, stop and hold for a slow count of 10.

To save time, and typing, from now on, I won’t say “slow count of 10”, I’ll just say hold your position.

Sit as far forward in the chair as you will want to rock back and forth a bit later.


These exercises will be done in three groups of three to allow individual muscles to rest a bit between exercises. At the same time, this allows you to get a small amount of aerobic results from isometric exercises, which is difficult to do.

First set:

Arm exercise 1:

Hold one arm so it’s at your side and make a 90-degree angle at the elbow in almost the classic “look at my muscle.” Put your palms together and pull up with the first arm while pushing down with the other and holding. Reverse hand positions and repeat.

Chest exercise 1:

Place the fist of one hand in the palm of the other in front of your chest. Push them against each other and hold them.

Back exercise 1:

With your hands still in front of you, grab your hands, pull and hold.

For Set 2, repeat the isometric exercises with your hands in a low position, at or below waist level.

For Set 3, repeat the exercises with your hands in a high position.

Don’t worry about the shape. You are doing this for you, and how you look doesn’t really matter. Also, as you get stronger, more familiar with the exercises and how they feel, you’ll start to realize that you can focus the contraction wherever you want.


I used the word “more” because while the concentration of the following exercises is on the core or mid-body area, you will be doing some things for other parts as well. We will not do multiple positions of these.

Basic exercise 1:

Put your hands on your knees and, using your abdominal muscles as much as possible, push down and hold.

Basic exercise 2:

Put your right hand on the outside of one knee and pull to the other side as if you were trying to turn in that direction. Try to use your core muscles and just use your arm as if it were a “stick.” Hold. Then repeat going to the other side.

More exercises 1 and 2:

At this point, for a mini break in my basic exercises, I put my hands between my legs, press the backs of my hands against the inside of my knees, press out and hold.

When you’re done, place your hands on the outside of your knees and press in and hold.

Basic exercise 3:

Place one hand on the opposite knee (right hand on left knee or left hand on right knee). Using your core (abdominal) muscles, press down and hold. Reverse and do with the other hand and knee.


Neck exercise 1:

Place your hands against the front of your forehead. Push forward with your neck and resist with your hands.

Neck exercise 2:

Put your hands behind your head. Pull back with your neck muscles and pull against that with your hands and hold.


Start to stand up, BUT, just as you clear the chair, stop and hold a slow count to 10.

Stand up, put away the chair, and walk around the house for a couple of minutes.


While at first you may just want to do the isometrics and let the rest go, if you want to get a bit more of an aerobic effect and make the exercises more effective at the same time, add a bit of movement to each exercise, right before the “hold.”

For example, in arm exercises, I alternately curl and extend my arms about three or four times before bringing them into the “hold” position. In the chest exercise, I move my arms in and out before getting ready for the exercise. I try to do each movement as if I were moving into position and keep going three or four times.

I mentioned sitting forward in the chair. This is so that you can rock back and forth before ab exercises. For the neck, I move my chin to my chest and lift it up, or look up at the ceiling and tilt my head back.


Since I can push myself really hard on each “maintenance”, I only do this workout four times a week, two days, one day off, two days, and two days off. However, you may have to play around, especially in the beginning.

One thing to keep in mind is pain. While there can be some pain with any form of exercise, particularly a new one, if you’re really in pain, you’re pushing yourself too hard. In fact, I recommend that for the first few weeks you use fairly light pressure and gradually increase it until you experience real resistance.

No rush Just because you’re doing this little isometric exercise program, which probably only takes about 10 minutes, on a regular basis will soon start to show results. Now, you may not lose much weight or gain much strength, but you should notice a little more energy and looseness in your clothes after a few weeks.

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