Have you ever done isometric holds before during your workout?
I’m willing to bet 95% of people reading this have never included them as part of their arm training. Why not? Most people are so focused on contracting and elongating the muscle that an isometric hold in a way “goes against the grain” of how we have learned to work out. When we work out, we think about reps and sets where we execute specific exercises. While that can absolutely help you put on lean muscle tissue, there are other strategies (like isometric holds) that can enhance your results.
What many fail to realize is that there are many benefits of incorporating isometric holds for biceps in your workouts. In this article, I want to break down the top three benefits of isometric holds for biceps so you can start seeing better gains from your arm days in the gym and cause your shirt sleeves to get tighter.
What are Isometric Holds?
First, let’s actually break down what isometric holds are since there may be some of you reading this who have never heard the term used before. With that being said, I’m sure you have heard about them and/or you’ve done them in the past without really thinking about it or knowing what it was called.
Isometric holds are where you keep a muscle flexed and contracted for an extended period of time (several seconds). In the example of isometric holds for biceps, you can think of holding bags of groceries in your hands and your elbows are bent at 90-degrees. In this position, your biceps are fully flexed and holding the bags statically in place. That’s an isometric hold. It’s forcibly contracting the muscles and resisting any forces trying to elongate the muscle.
3 Benefits of Isometric Holds for Biceps
Below are three benefits of isometric holds for biceps that can help you add some quality mass to your upper arms. If you are also utilizing Hany Rambod’s FST-7 training protocol, you can fast-track your results.
- Increase Muscle Growth
Just like with FST-7, isometric holds for biceps can help increase the metabolic demands and metabolites such as lactate which may result in an increased production of natural anabolic hormones in your body. This increase in anabolic hormones can help facilitate new muscle growth (hypertrophy) through improved recovery and repair while the isometric hold itself is helping to flood the muscle with nutrients and blood – allowing you to further stretch out the fascia constricting your muscle.
- Better Mind-Muscle Connection
Simply moving the weight from point A to point B without really feeling the targeted muscle contracting will leave you spinning your wheels with lackluster results. You want to specifically target the muscle you ware working without bringing in other muscle groups to help you complete the movement and repetition. What you should focus on is establishing an intense feeling and neurological connection between your brain and the muscle you are working. To get the most from isometric holds for biceps, you’re going to need a heightened mind-muscle connection where you feel a strong muscular contraction to the point where you can feel the deep muscle fibers contracting and firing – providing you with a deep burning sensation in your biceps.
- Improve Muscle Strength
Through the use of isometric holds for biceps, you have the ability to recruit more muscle fibers as when compared to the standard concentric and eccentric movement of an exercise. In order to increase strength, you need maximum fiber recruitment which can take place during isometric holds. Using isometric holds in your training can help reprogram your neuromuscular system to recruit and fire more muscle fibers when training with weights which can help improve your overall muscle strength.
3 Exercises to Implement in Your Training
Below you will find three exercises you can insert into your biceps training days to help add the quality size you’re looking for without the need to grab a heavy weight and start curling.
- Static Flex
For this exercise, you don’t need any equipment. All you need to do is flex your biceps as if you were curling a barbell or dumbbell and keep the muscle contracted with your arm at 90-degrees. Then, using your opposite hand, apply downward pressure to the forearm associated with the flexed muscle. Resist the pressure and hold for 10-15 seconds and then switch to do the same with the other arm. This can also be done with a workout partner where they apply the pressure to your forearm, and you’d need to resist it.
- Static Curl
If you have access to dumbbells or a barbell, you can work both arms at the same time. For this version of our isometric holds, simply curl the weight up and hold it static with your arms bent at 90-degrees and your biceps fully flexed. Hold for a count of 10-15 seconds in that position before resting.
- Isometric Chin-Up
Another option for hitting your biceps with isometric holds is through the use of a chin-up bar. For this exercise, what you want to do is hang from the bar with your arms flexed at 90-degrees. It should look similar to you statically holding the middle position of a pull-up range of motion. Hold in this position for a count of 10-15 seconds before resting.