A 10-Minute Isometric Leg Workout for a Slow-but-Serious Burn

Isometric leg exercises don't seem hard at first, but the longer you hold, the harder they are.
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Isometric exercises — like planks or wall sits where you contract a muscle and hold it — are an effective way to build muscular strength and endurance. They can also help improve your posture and balance, says certified personal trainer Liza McAllister of Levelled with Liza.

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"I personally never discount isometrics in any workout," she says. "The challenge is physically and mentally very satisfying. One of my new favorite isometric exercises is the bear plank."

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Below, Grace Albin, Pilates and yoga instructor in New Orleans, shares a 10-minute isometric workout of 10 static moves that will sculpt and strengthen your calves, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Do:​ each move for 30 seconds before going on to the next. Complete the entire circuit twice. Do your left leg on the first round and the right leg on the second round.

Tip

Maintain good posture with a straight spine. Softening your knees will help with balance when necessary. Don't lock your knees if you feel wobbly.

If you want to increase the intensity, do a few pulses at the end of each move. Only shift as far as you can control your body weight, and keep your core engaged.

Move 1: Inner-Thigh Squat Hold

Move 1: Inner-Thigh Squat Hold
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your left heel off the floor.
  3. Keep your back straight while bending your knees and sinking your hips down into a squat. Try to keep a couple of inches of air under your right heel, using the inner-muscles of your left leg to keep it high.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Then slowly and with control, release that right foot flat on the ground, straighten your knees while lifting your body back to a standing position.

Move 2: Static Calf Raise

Move 2: Static Calf Raise
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Use a chair, table or wall for balance, but make sure you don’t heavily lean your body weight against it. Just lightly rest your fingertips so that you find a bit of stability without it being a crutch.
  2. Lift your heels off the floor, standing on the balls of your feet.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly and with control lower back down to flat feet.

Move 3: Single-Leg Calf Raise

Move 3: Single-Leg Calf Raise
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Brace one foot behind the opposite calf. (Do your left leg on the first round and right leg on the second round.)
  2. Lift your left heel off the floor, rising onto the ball of your foot.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower back to a flat foot.

Move 4: Lunge Hold

Move 4: Lunge Hold
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. From standing, step forward with your left leg and sink down into a lunge, both knees bent to 90 degrees.
  2. Stay low, knees bent, hips squared forward. Resist the urge to slouch, keep your chin up and posture strong.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds or pulse at the bottom for extra intensity.

Move 5: Single-Leg Deadlift Hold

Move 5: Single-Leg Deadlift Hold
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with both feet planted, toes pointing forward and fingertips resting on a wall or table for balance.
  2. Lift your right foot off the floor and hover it behind you. Use the muscles in your left leg to support your body weight.
  3. Slowly hinge forward at your hip, focusing your gaze on one spot in front of you to help you remain steady.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.

Tip

The hamstrings in both of your legs should feel engaged throughout this exercise.

Move 6: Static Side Lunge

Move 6: Static Side Lunge
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. From standing, take a step directly out to the left side with your left foot.
  2. Bend your left knee as far as is comfortable, but ideally not less than 90 degrees.
  3. Look at your left knee and make sure it's above or behind your left foot but not hyper-extending in front of your foot. Keep your spine straight while hovering at the bottom.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly return to standing.

Move 7: Releve Hold

Move 7: Releve Hold
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand on both feet and get into first position with heels touching and toes turned out.
  2. Keeping your knees rotated out, use your inner thighs and calf muscles to lift your heels off the floor. Your legs should remain straight.
  3. Stay on the balls of your feet for 30 seconds while those leg muscles remain engaged.

Move 8: Plie Hold

Move 8: Plie Hold
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Stay in first position with heels touching and toes turned outward.
  2. With heels off the floor, bend your knees and sink your hips down as low as is comfortable.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds before lowering back down.

Move 9: Static Lateral Leg Lift

Move 9: Static Lateral Leg Lift
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Root your left foot into the ground. Keep your left knee “soft” — neither bent nor locked.
  2. Slowly lift the right leg off the floor and out to the right side. Resist the urge to point the toes up toward the ceiling, instead keep the foot flat and parallel with the floor.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds before lowering your leg back down.

Move 10: Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Move 10: Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Image Credit: Grace Albin/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Time 30 Sec
Region Lower Body
  1. Lie on your back and bend your knees to point toward the ceiling, feet on the floor.
  2. Root your left foot into the ground and lift your right foot off the floor several inches.
  3. Push your body weight down through the heel of your left leg and lift your hips and back off the ground. You should feel the hamstrings and glutes of the left leg working to keep your hips up off the floor.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds before lowering back down.

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