The isometric wiper isn’t your typical everyday gym exercise however it’s worth considering for the benefits it offers. This movement could be described as a plank and push-up variation hybrid working the upper body pushing muscles as well as the core.
What’s also great is that it’s a bodyweight exercise so no equipment is needed and you can make it easier or harder.
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: Pectoralis Major
- Type: Strength
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Floor Mat (Optional)
- Difficulty: Intermediate
Pectoralis major clavicular head
The clavicular head of the pectoralis or major chest muscle is located on the upper portion of the chest near the clavicle area. It causes flexion of the extended arm.
This is the target muscle group of the decline push-up and although it cannot be isolated, elevating the feet allows us to place more of an emphasis on this muscle.
The biceps brachii or biceps for short is a two-headed muscle located on the anterior or front of the upper arm. The biceps crosses the elbow and shoulder joint and therefore functions at both ends, although its primary function is at the forearm end where it supinates and flexes the elbow.
The brachialis muscle is located deep to the biceps brachii and is a very important elbow flexor. When fully developed, this muscle gives width to the upper arm.
The hammer curl is a popular exercise for emphasizing the brachialis although any curl will involve this muscle.
The brachioradialis is a forearm muscle (located on the lateral portion) that is primarily an elbow flexor but it also supinates (turns forearms up) and pronates (turns forearm down) the forearm.
This muscle is involved in arm flexion and stabilizing the arm while the deltoid lateral abducts the arms (raises the arm away from the midline of the body).
It also works with the pectoralis major to flex the arm when walking.
As the name suggests, the triceps is considered a three-headed muscle that consists of a lateral, medial, and long head, that when visible, usually creates a horseshoe-like appearance.
Each head has a different origin but all attach distally to form a single tendon. The triceps muscles are primarily responsible for extending the elbow.
The lateral head is on the outer side of the upper arm and is usually the strongest out of the three triceps heads. It also, when well-developed, contributes to the appearance of the upper arm having more width.
The medial head is located between the lateral and long head and isn’t typically as visible as the other two heads. Although, it still contributes to size.
The long head has its origins at the scapula and therefore, unlike the medial head, not only helps to extend the elbow but also has minor action at the shoulder joint (extension) as well. It also helps to adduct (bring arm toward the centerline of the body) the arm and prevent displacement of the humerus or upper arm bone.
How To Do The Isometric Wiper
- Get into the high plank (push-up) position by supporting your weight on your hands and toes. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder-width. Keep your core tight and body straight.
- Lower yourself down similar to the negative portion of a push-up.
- Do not push yourself back up but rather shift your weight toward one hand and then move to the other side, alternating for the entire set.
Here’s a video example…
Isometric wiper tips
- We recommend doing a few warmup sets before attempting this exercise. That’s because it’s less stable than a standard push-up and shifts more weight to either side.
- Do not bounce side to side. This is not only unsafe but it removes proper tension from the chest muscles and is consequently not as effective compared to controlled movement.
- Get on your knees or elevate your upper body to decrease the resistance and make the exercise easier.
- Elevate your feet, use resistance bands or wear a backpack with weights for a more challenging workout that will build more muscle and strength.
There are some worthwhile benefits to isometric wipers.
Great chest, triceps and delts workout
Isometric wipers can help to develop your chest, triceps and front deltoid muscles. But you can also modify your body position based on your level of training and therefore increase the load and potential for gains.
Good core exercise
Push-up variations are similar to planks in that you should maintain a strong core to stabilize your body. Try some of the variations and increase your core engagement.
No equipment needed
Convenience sometimes means the difference between getting a productive workout and not. You have to challenge yourself for any exercise to be effective and isometric wipers are a worthwhile bodyweight movement.
While there are many benefits there seems to be one drawback in our opinion.
Not for everyone
Sometimes body weight based exercises are more challenging and less doable than those that require using weight and machines.
This variation especially requires more upper body strength than basic push-ups (even when done on the knees). Not to mention, weak wrists and poor form can make this movement a bad choice for many.
Isometric Wipers Alternatives and Variations
The isometric wiper is a beneficial core and chest movement. But we also recommend switching things up and/or trying these variations and alternatives.
1. Isometric wiper on knees
If you cannot do a complete push-up in the high plank position then try it on your knees. This removes a decent amount of your body weight resistance and will subsequently make the exercise more doable for those with less upper body strength or endurance.
2. Elevated isometric wipers
Use push-up handles, chair handles, or anything similar to get a deeper chest stretch. This variation increases the range of motion is often the difference between feeling sore the next day which may mean you’ve activated more muscle fibers.
3. Archer push-ups
This is an advanced push-up variation that involves the same side-to-side movement of isometric wipers however it should be more difficult. When done properly it’s a great way to overload the chest and pushing muscles but without needing any equipment. This makes it valuable.
4. Inner pec push-up
While we don’t know who invented this push-up variation, Jeff Cavaliere of Athlean X really made it popular and it’s really an excellent exercise.
It’s performed similarly to a regular push-up however, it involves alternating rotating the torso toward one side upon pressing up. This shifts the tension and contraction on each side of the chest individually.
How To Include Isometric Wipers In Your Workout Routine
The isometric wiper is a great chest and core exercise. However, we do not recommend it as a sole movement for working either muscle group. In other words, it makes for a useful addition to your base workout regime.
For example, if you do bodyweight-only workouts then the isometric wiper is a good way to overload the chest without equipment. But you still need heavy presses, fly variations, other bodyweight chest movements, etc.
Isometric wipers are a great core exercise but even better alongside heavy compound lifts that engage your core plus crunches, advanced planks, rotational movements, etc.
Don’t overthink it. Add three sets of isometric wipers to your workouts at the end or in between.
Try Isometric Wipers For Core and Chest Development
Isometric wipers offer many benefits. They are simple (not necessarily easy) to do, don’t require any training tools, are good for more advanced exercisers, and work several muscle groups at once.
If you haven’t already, give them a try and consider adding them to your weekly routine to scale up your training and progress.