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 isometric exercises, just a quick summary.

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

The muscle tenses in contraction or extension for seven to ten seconds.

I always count slowly to 10.

Caution, although the recommendation for faster results is to tighten the muscle to 75% of its maximum capacity, you have no way of measuring it and you are at higher risk of injury early on, so when starting out just tighten 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’ve injured a smaller muscle.

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

This is another little rule of thumb of mine. If I have to stop breathing to do the particular isometric exercise, I’m overexerting myself and risking injury…not just to my muscle, but also to my heart.

The goal is to help you get and stay in shape, not to make you 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.

That’s why, 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 performance, both with isometric exercise training and adding a bit of aerobic activity in the process.


Get yourself a sturdy chair without 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 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 into a seat on the chair… BUT…

Just before you are seated 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 can, as later you’ll want to rock back and forth a bit.


These exercises will be performed in three sets 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 classic “look at my muscle.” Bring your palms together and pull up with the first arm while pushing down with the other and hold. 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’re doing this for yourself, and how you look doesn’t really matter. Also, as you get stronger, more familiar with the exercises and how they feel, you’ll begin to realize that you can focus the contraction where you want.


I used the word “more” because while the focus of the next few exercises is on the core or mid-body area, you’ll 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 twist in that direction. Try to use your core muscles and simply 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 core 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 inward 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 keep the slow count to 10.

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


While at first you may just want to do the isometric exercises and leave the rest, if you want to get a little more aerobic effect and make the exercises more effective at the same time, add a little bit of movement to each exercise, just before of the “wait”.

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 preparing for the exercise. I try to do each move as if I’m moving into position and go forward three or four times.

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


Since I can work so 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 at first.

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 you use fairly light pressure for the first few weeks and gradually increase it until you experience real resistance.

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

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