Isometric Exercises for the Arms

Use isometrics to recharge your arm routine.

Use isometrics to recharge your arm routine.

Lean, sexy arms are at the top of every woman's Christmas list. You know the basics for good arms: plenty of dumbbell curls, cable kickbacks, extensions and pushups. But sometimes you need something to give your training a boost and take your results to the next level. Enter isometric training. Isometric arm exercises involve holding a weight in a static position, rather than moving it. Sounds bizarre, but they work like a charm.

Isometric Biceps Curl

Set the pins in a power rack to waist height and place a barbell across them, then place another set of pins around 12 inches above the bottom set.

Grab the bar with your palms facing up and perform a curl as you would usually, by keeping your arms tucked in to your body and bending your elbows.

Allow the barbell to hit the top set of pins but keep applying as much force as possible. Obviously you won't be able to move the bar any higher, as the pins are stopping it, but keep applying pressure for 20 to 30 seconds. Rest for one minute, then perform two more holds.

Isometric Chinup

Place a box or high aerobic step underneath a chinup bar and hold the handles using a neutral grip with palms facing inward -- or a supinated grip with palms facing toward you.

Jump up so your chin clears the bar, or have a partner give you some assistance by placing her hands around your waist and lifting up. In the top position your chin should be just above the bar, with your biceps contracted hard and your abdominals and upper back tensed.

Hold yourself in this position for eight seconds, then lower yourself under control and repeat a further five times. Isometric chinup holds hit your biceps and are one of the best ways to improve your grip strength and chinup performance, according to strength coach Charles Poliquin. Women often struggle with chinups, but there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to become a chinup queen with enough isometric practice. As you get better, add in another hold halfway down.

Static Dips

Position yourself between a set of parallel dipping bar handles and grasp the bars firmly.

Jump up to get yourself in position with your arms completely straight. If the bars are too high to jump up to, ask a partner to help you or use a step.

Hold yourself at the top for as long as possible while squeezing your triceps hard, then descend as far as you can under control and hold the bottom position, aiming to get the same amount of time as you did at the top. Do three holds in each position for a set and complete three sets in total.

Items you will need

  • Power rack
  • Barbell
  • Chinup bar
  • Parallel dip bars
  • Weight bench


  • For best results, mix isometric exercises into your normal arm routine.


  • Consult your health-care provider prior to starting an exercise regime.

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About the Author

Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.

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