Pushing against an immovable wall may sound like a pointless activity, but it's actually an isometric exercise. This type of workout is done in a static position, pushing against a fixed object while tension builds up in the muscles. "The Complete Book of Isometrics" (Healthy Living Books, 2005) offers an entire isometric training program.
"The Complete Book of Isometrics": Many exercise routines and classes include isometrics, such as holding a push-up position, but not all do. Author Erin O'Driscoll believes they're an important component to any fitness regimen. Her book includes exercises for the upper and lower body as well as abdominals, all with a range of difficulty. For the lower body, there are lying side leg raises; for the upper body, a chest towel pull; and crunches for abdominals.
There are minimal props, such as balls and chairs, and some exercises can be done in the office. All have step-by-step instructions and are illustrated with black and white photos. The book also offers week-by-week routines.
"Muscles provide a variety of roles," says O'Driscoll, a Speonk, N.Y.-based registered nurse, exercise physiologist and fitness instructor. "They can contract and lengthen to perform movement, or they can function as stabilizers and hold the body in place," as they do with isometrics. "That can help maintain erect posture and good biomechanics."
Beginning chapters go into great detail about muscles and muscle function; O'Driscoll says she believes "that people need to change their sedentary lifestyles, and through education we can do this."
Price: $16.95, available in bookstores.
-- Jeannine Stein