Monday, 11 October 2010


What is Isometrics?

Muscle-building exercises (or a system of musclebuilding exercises) involving muscular contractions against resistance without movement (the muscles contracts but the length of the muscle does not change).

Isometrics shouldn't just be seen as an exercise, but a form of muscle control we use every day, as when we stand up, usually our posture is maintained by holding ourselves upright, employing muscles in the torso and the back. When we sit up straight as opposed to slouching, we tend to feel more effort is required because we use muscles, again from the torso and back. Isometric exercises can enhance the effects of gravity or resistance against an object so that our muscles have to fight to maintain our stationary pose, and these enhancements have been created and utilised by several athletes and enthusiasts, such as Bruce Lee, Paul J O'Brien, Charles Atlas and Eugene Sandow.

Bruce Lee

I'm sure you know who Bruce Lee is, but if you don't, let's say he's the most famous martial artist there has ever been, at least from a westerner's point of view. He taught Chinese martial arts and further researched and fused together many forms of combat, fitness techniques and philosophies, creating Jeet Kune Do as the ultimate martial art programme for himself and his students. I got to know of him through the film Enter the Dragon, but he done a tonne of other films and acted in television series.

 Bruce Lee had designed his training to enhance, not essentially his physique, but his strength, his power, his endurance, his speed. His physique represented his desire to be in the best physical form for combat purposes, not just for aesthetics, so his regime employed many exercise techniques as he wanted to develop different qualities of fitness. Isometrics were just one of these. In the article The Power of The Dragon by Justin Frost and Ted Wong, they displayed a series of exercises that Bruce Lee employed, including isometrics, such as the Power Punch training exercise, Board Isometrics, and the Bull Worker. The bull worker has become famous as a home gym equipment to gain muscularity, but Bruce used it to develop the speed of his punches, and strengthen his forearms of combat purposes as opposed to simply add inches to his chest or increasing his muscles.

Paul J O'Brien

Paul is the author and creator of “7 seconds to a perfect body”, and while that does sound like a purely aesthetic program, he provides examples through his website of lifting weights twice as heavy as himself, or doing very difficult bodyweight exercises that can only be held for a short period of time like the Two Thumb Body Suspension. Whether isometrics is the only training that he does is not revealed,  but he certainly promotes it as a way of increasing strength. I have yet to look at his ebook. Maybe one day I'll review it.

Charles Atlas

He was considered to be the worlds 'best built man,' after winning the 1921 and 1922 "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man™" competitions.  There are those who say that Charles Atlas employed isometric exercises in his workout regime.  There are others who say he used dynamic tension. However, there are images and records of him using both techniques and other more traditional bodyweight exercises. He did things like the one legged squat and the side bend, both of which can be transformed into isometric exercises depending on how long you hold the exercise positions for. He has a workout programme which can be found on his website

Let me know if you've used the programme and whether you like it or not. I'm wondering if the body building world appears to be a little old-fashion in comparison to sports and training that develop the slender athlete look.

Eugene Sandow

Eugene Sandow, born in Prussia in the mid-19th century was one of the world's strongmen (or what we would now call body builders). He toured towns and cities to display his Herculean-like physique, growing in fame to eventually become the personal fitness instructor to King George V of the United Kingdom. He used self-resistance to develop muscles such as flexing. On wikipedia, there's an interesting video of him flexing and posing ( These same muscle flexes are known to increase muscle and strength as you tighten or contract them, such as pulling your navel of the stomach in towards the spine, holding the tension for a time before relaxing.

Zen In the Arts of Self Resistance

Zen In the Arts of Self Resistance is a website dedicated to exercises using minimal equipment, just our own bodies and the everyday items we find around us like walls and chairs. The exercises are categorised as isotonic, isometric and isokinetic.

Isotonic exercises involve movement where the force exerted throughout the movement changes, usually increasing and decreasing before the movement is completed, such as with push ups. If you start at the top of the push up, as you lower yourself to the floor, the force or tension in the muscles of the chest, shoulders and arms tends to increase, and as you raise yourself back up, the tension tends decreases.

Isokinetic usually requires specialised equipment as the force needed through a movement is the same from the beginning of that movement until the end.

Zen in the Arts of Self Resistance has a wide array of exercises, and the isometric exercises are quite interesting to do. They don't look like they do anything, like the praying exercise, where you put two hands together as if praying, and then press them against each other. You feel the tension build in the forearms and biceps. I have yet to try all the exercises presented, but this is certainly a good place to start if you want to use isometric exercises without equipment.

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Friday, 16 July 2010


I think I mentioned something about my isometrics series in the last post. Well, here's the content which will keep me busy for a couple of months. You'll see why I love isometrics as I go through it. There are a tonne of exercises, and still, I haven't mentioned them all. If anyone can help with any of these topics, providing pictures or tutorials, I'd be eternally grateful. Contact me on



Paul J O'Brien, Bruce Lee, Charles Atlas, Eugen Sandow and Zen in the Arts (Website).


3.1Straight arm plank
3.2Frog Stand
3.3Wall Handstand
3.4Chin Up Hold
3.5Backwards Bridge
X1 Review of Upper Body Isometrics


4.1Front Splits
4.2Side splits
4.3Raised calf hold
4.4Raised Hip Hold
4.5Wall Sit
4.6Leg Lift Hold
4.7Squat Hold
4.8One Legged Squat
4.9Butt Clench
X2 Review of Lower Body Isometrics


5.2Reverse Hyperextension
5.3Stomach Hold
5.5Sit Up Hold
5.6Sit Back Hold
5.7Side Plank
5.8Roman Hold
5.9One Arm Plank
5.10Reverse Plank
5.11Star Plank
5.12Bruce Lee's Lateral Weight Hold
X3 Review of Core Body Exercises


6.1The flag
6.2One Arm Wall Lean
6.3One Legged Superman
6.4Proprioceptive Single Leg Balance
6.5Yoga Plank
6.6Dip Hold
6.7Single Handed Handstand
6.8One Hand Straight Arm Plank
6.9Climber's Hang Hold
6.10Grip Hold
6.11Free Hand stand
X4 review of Full Body and Miscellaneous Isometrics


7.1Yoga Contemporaries
7.2Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
7.3Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
7.4Crescent Moon Pose
7.5Pinca Mayurasana
7.7Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose)
7.8Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 – Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1
7.9Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 - Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 2
7.10Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 3 - Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 3
7.11Parivrtta Hasta Padaghusthasana – Revolved Hand to Big Toe
7.12Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)
7.13Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)
7.14Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose)
7.15Utkatasana 1 – Chair Pose 1
7.16Utkatasana 1 – Chair Pose 1
7.17Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend
7.18Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Dog
7.19Parivrtta Parsvakonasana – Revolved Side Anfle Pose
7.20Padahastasana – Hands to Feet
7.21Upavista Konasana (Spread Leg Forward Fold)
7.22paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend
7.23paripurna navasana – Full Boat Pose
7.24Bakasana – Crane Pose (Frog Stand)
7.25Sirshasana (Head Stand)
7.26Sulashasana – Locust Pose
7.27bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
X5 – Review of Isometrics in Yoga


8.1The 100
8.2The Knee Pillow Squeeze
8.3The Lying Side Flex
8.4Single Leg Stretch
8.5Abdominal Curl
8.6Oblique Curl
8.7Bridge with Pillow
8.8Double Leg Press
8.9Foot Arch Hold
8.10One Legged Stance
8.11Runner's Squat
8.12Seated Knee raise
8.13Seated Leg Raise
X6 Review of Isometrics in Pilates


9.3The Elbow Lever
9.4One Arm Elbow Lever
9.5Front Lever
9.6One Arm Front Lever
9.7Back Lever
9.9Straddle Planche
X7 Review of Isometrics in Gymnastics


10.1Horse stance
10.2Bow stance
10.3Drop Stance
10.4Cat Stance
10.5Empty Stance
10.6Du Li
10.7Ding By
10.8Gui Bu
10.9Ban ma Bu
10.10Tang Lang Bu
10.11San Qi Bu
X8 Review of Wushu Stances

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Update: July 2010

I can't believe I've been offline for so long, or at least off of urbantricks. Let us call it one of those unplanned hiatuses. I've also been slacking with my exercise plan. Okay, there were no proper exercise plans, but I had goals. My goal in Feb 2010 was to do 10 full push ups. I got to 5 then stopped my push ups training. I've kept up footie though (aka soccer). In fact, I'm in a Monday 5-a-side women's league and we came 3rd last season out of 8 teams (I think there are 8 teams). The company I worked for also put on a 5-a-side football team and the main rule was 2 women on the field per side. Well, that kind of mucked it up for some teams as they couldn't find any women to play for them and had to drop out. In the end, 13 teams participated and my team got the finals and WON! Shocking!

Finger Hanging & The Bodyweight Culture

I skipped push ups to do finger hangs in my doorway. It started because I wanted tips on doing the L-seat. So I wrote an email to bodyweight guru, Jim Barthurst of beast skills. Amazingly, he did get back to me and offered advice that I should try hanging leg raises. That sounded great until I realised I had nowhere to do the exercise. That wasn't entirely true. Between my doorway at the top is a small wooden pane big enough to fit half the length of my fingers. I could barely hang there for 10 seconds, let alone do hanging leg raises. At this point, I conducted a little google based research which pointed me towards rock climbing, bouldering, indoor climbing, grip exercises and forearm strength training. I also probed the BWC guys ( about grip training at and they were more than helpful. Check it out if you want to know about improving grip training. I also decided to put 2 chairs together and work on the L-seat that way.My core is definitely getting stronger.

I'm a 200m a minute woman

In the 5K race that is. Hey. Okay. I know that's slow. But that's 5km in 25 minutes if my calculations are correct, and it's faster than my previous time of 40 minutes. I hope you didn't think it took me 1 minute to run 200m flat out. Maybe it does, but I've never actually tested it. I should add, that 200m a minute is my goal pace. I will start training soon. I'll let you know how I get along with that too and what info I find on effective training methods in for new runners.

There's a Little Less of Me

Well, I weigh a little less at least. As of Feb 2010, I was 9kg. Strong boned as someone so kindly pointed out. “You'd be great in my judo team,” he added. He was serious though. He then asked me my age and displayed a short moment of disappointment as I was 21 at the time and he hoped I'd be younger. He said, “we can still prepare you for the Olympics.” I should be flattered. He thought I'd be good at Olympic level judo just by looking at me. I wonder why I had no problems going through school lol.

The Future of Urbantricks Blogspot

Isometrics will be the theme for the next couple of months. I still want to make urbantricks a one-stop-shop for all these bodyweight exercises. Once I do that, I don't know. Also, I'll be adding regular posts about urbantrickers aka advocates of bodyweight sports and exercises as well sharing resources that I discover. I'd like urbantricks blogspot to house those too.

x, AnonymousJ

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

27 Lower Body Exercises

Sorry in advanced as I rushed to post this topic today, but I hope you'll find these lower body exercises useful to use in your workouts.

Developing leg strength and power are important in many sports, from kung fu kicks and jumps to nordic walking. However, even more important is endurance for our daily activities. As long as we are able to stand, we all have to carry ourselves on our legs (which doesn't mean only our leg muscles are helping to keep us up, but they play a major role).

27 Lower Body Exercises

  1. Bodyweight Squats
  2. Half Bodyweight Squats
  3. Hindu Squats
  4. Half Hindu Squats
  5. Bent Squats
  6. BootStrapper
  7. Bounding Squats
  8. Jump Squats
  9. Jump & Tuck Squat
  10. Lateral Squats
  11. Squat Thrusts
  12. Rear Leg Elevated Squat
  13. Scorpian Thrusts
  14. The Pistol (One Legged Squat)
  15. Elevated One Legged Squats
  16. Lunges
  17. Reverse Lunge
  18. Jumping Lunges
  19. Knee Jumps (complements of FitDaily)
  20. Knee Drops
  21. Prison Shower Defence
  22. Calf Raises
  23. Sprinting
  24. Rebounding
  25. Depth Jumps
  26. Hopping
  27. Box Jumping


I purposefully haven't included isometrics, but will dedicate a post or a few to them soon. All the lower body exercises are cyclic and so can be done repetitiously.


5 Types of Squats to Master
Bodyweight & Hindu Squats
Bodyweight Squats: The Key To Massive Leg Size And Strength

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through


Gemma aka AnonymousJ

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Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Empty Stance

Finally, may I present the last stance in the series, at least for now. Just to recap, there are 5 basic stances in wushu (aka kung fu).

  • Horse Stance
  • Bow Stance
  • Resting Stance
  • Drop Stance (Flat Stance)
  • Empty Stance (Cat Stance)

The Most Difficult of the 5 Basic Wushu Stances

The empty stance, otherwise known as the cat stance can be found throughout many Chinese martial art styles, and therefore comes in several styles. Because the bending leg is carrying all the weight upon it, and the thigh is parallel to the ground, the calf and thigh muscles work extremely hard to keep you static. Tye “Nuke” Botting of's TFK Martial Arts Forum commented that 'it should be the hardest [stance] to hold for any length of time, or indeed even to get to at first.' This is especially true if you do the stance the way it's executed by wushu competitors as I will describe below.

Method to Achieving the Empty Stance

  • Start with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Turn your right foot out at about 45ยบ.
  • Bend the right leg so that the right thigh is horizontal/parallel to the ground (or at least as close as you can get it to be parallel).
  • Place the front your left foot forward lightly on the ground so that it is in line with your right heel. The left foot should not be flat on the floor.
  • If you do the stance correctly, you'll be able to lift you the right leg off the floor without falling over.

Additional Notes About the Empty Stance and Stance Training in General

There are two schools of thought when it comes to training, and it's not just with stances. You can first try to build endurance, then add speed or strength. Alternatively, you can build strength and then work on endurance. I favour the second school as does Tye “Nuke” Botting who made a valuable note:

'That is, do the stance as exactly correct as possible, then try to do it longer and longer....At first, like with the cat stance, this may only be for even a fraction of a second....Doing it right and then longer is much better than doing it longer and then working to be more right.'


Correcting Problems with the Empty Stance
Practice and Application of Wushu Stances
Choy lay fut and Stance Training - Flexibility & Applications
The Empty Stance Deep Form

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through


Gemma aka AnonymousJ

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