Sunday, December 21, 2008

Iso's on the Airplane

Well, I’m back on the road again. As I type this I’m returning home from looking at a job in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many people are quick to mention how detrimental to keeping fit traveling can be. I just laugh. Traveling is a part of my job and one of the circumstances that I have to form my plans for keeping fit. Most of this trip was spent on planes.

You wouldn’t think that you could exercise on a plane. You’d also be wrong. This is where isometric exercises show their value. I think that people dismiss their value since just about every form of exercise has movement. The premise that you can exercise without movement is incomprehensible. I’ll admit that it’s not my first choice for strength training but one of my basic principles here at the Bodyweight Files is that any workout beats no workout at all. Another principle that I have is that you get out of a workout what you put into it. If you don’t believe that isometrics don’t give you a good workout, then you won’t get good workout from them.

With those in mind, I came up with this routine that I’ve been doing on the airplane.

Set #1, legs: I do 6 isometric contractions where I endeavor to push my feet through the floor. I do 2 of these with my feet flat, 2 with my heels raised, and two with my toes raised.

Set #2, Chest and Shoulders: I Spread my knees just enough to get my fists in between. I try to push my knees apart while resisting the motion with my legs. Next, I place my hands at my chest and push my hands together powerfully. Lastly, I push my head and my elbow into the seat and hit my trapezius muscles. Once again, I do 2 of each of these contractions.

Set #3, Arms: I do a simultaneous bicep and triceps contraction by pushing my fist down and resist the motion with the other fist, switching each fist after each contraction. I do these with my fists on my lap and then with my fists at my chest. 4 Contractions total.

Set #4 Forearms and Hands: There is, by far, the most variety of isometrics that you can do here. You could squeeze the dinky pillow that the airline gives you, press your fingertips together against each other, clasp your hands together and try to pull them apart. The options are endless. I try to do 6 of these.

In between each set, I like to do 5 Farmer Burns-style breathing exercises for the abs.

One thing that you’ll find out is that isometrics go a long way in keeping the jet lag away. This 15-20 minute workout will leave you feeling pretty refreshed during the plane ride. You might get some strange stares (I certainly did) but if you’re serious like me, you probably won’t care. You’ve probably found out that there are scores of people always ready to ridicule you for your efforts to stay in shape. Exercising on a plane is no different. Just get into a good zone, focus on your contractions, enjoy the flight, and find pride in the fact that you’ve done what few say is doable: you kept your fit lifestyle while traveling.


Anonymous said...

i think your blog is great. keep up the awesome work.

Matt said...

Hi Justin, I did a web search for Farmer Burns-style breathing exercises, but only came up with your blog for a hit. What are those exactly?

Justin_PS said...

Hey Matt,

Farmer Burns' basic breathing exercise pits the diaphragm against the abdominal muscles.

Inhale while tensing the abs, forcing your diaphfragm against the tension of the abs. When you exhale, tense your abs and resist the with the diaphragm.

If you do this right, it can be surprisingly hard on the abs. Don't do it a full stomach though. That's a good way to make yourself throw up.

Thanks for stopping by!