Try isometric exercises for a change in your training style and to maintain muscle tissue. A light isometric arm routine is also beneficial if you are new to exercise or if you have an elbow, wrist or biceps injury as the technique does not require arm movement. You might question how effective the workout is without moving your arms, but once you feel the burn in your biceps, isometric training will become part of your routine.
Although usually seen as one muscle, your biceps are two muscles on the fronts of your upper arms that give your arms shape. You are able to bend your elbows and lift things with your hands because your biceps contract. Even with light training, your upper arms contract and stimulate muscle tissue growth.
Isometric exercises do not use movement. You might wonder how your muscles are stimulated with isometrics. The answer is in the resistance. Even though you don't move your arms through a full range of motion, you use resistance at certain angles to target your biceps. For example, a 90-degree angle bend in your elbow contracts the biceps at only that point. If you bend your elbow to a 45-degree angle, the biceps are trained at that angle. MayoClinic.com suggests isometrics if you have arthritis or an injury that causes pain during traditional strength training. Use caution with isometrics, though, if you have high blood pressure as the tension created during the exercises might elevate your blood pressure.
Light hand weights between 3 and 5 pounds can be used for your isometric arm workout. Hold onto a weight, or soup can, with your palms facing up and bend your arms to a 90-degree angle. Maintain this position for 30 seconds as you breathe normally. Release and repeat if needed. Use various hand positions and face your palms down or in to stimulate different parts of your biceps. When you train with your palms facing up, you strengthen the largest head of the biceps muscle. A palms-down position slightly decreases the contraction in the biceps, but adds muscle strengthening in your forearms. When you position your palms in, the biceps contract along with the brachialis, often known as the lower biceps.
You don't necessarily need to hold weights to train your biceps isometrically. You can also use props. When you use props, you control the amount of resistance by how hard you push against it. For example, sit at a sturdy table. Bend your elbows to 90-degree angles and place your palms on the underside of the table. Push up with your hands for 30 seconds to contract your biceps. Breathe normally as you do this and then release slowly. Vary your hand positions and place the backs of your hands against the table as you push, or make a fist, turn your palms toward each other and press against the table.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.