Flexing, a common term used in the fitness industry, means muscle contraction.
When you do the double biceps pose just like Arnold, you are flexing your arms because you are contracting your biceps muscles.
Any muscle contraction is called flexing. When you do the plank exercise, for example, you contract the abs while standing still until the clock ticks and that’s it.
In this post, we will discuss flexing and building muscle. After reading, the answer to can flexing build muscle question will be clear.
Every once in a while in the fitness industry comes a trend that overtakes the whole community.
Everybody researches and argues about this specific trend and in the end, most people won’t change their opinions due to lack of knowledge. But, when you show them the right information with evidence, they will definitely agree with you.
Many people argued that flexing could build muscle because by flexing your muscles, you are contracting them, just like you would do in a biceps curl.
But do you really expect to build muscle without carrying any load or doing a certain exercise? Here comes the puzzle.
Can you really build muscles by flexing?
Flexing your biceps or showing off your chest apparently is not only for show. By flexing your muscles, you are contracting them in a way similar to that you would do with an exercise.
With that being said, would you build muscle by just flexing your biceps all day long?
One study looked at whether flexing the biceps and triceps would increase muscle mass or muscle strength or not.
The study included 16 young men that would flex their biceps and triceps in their workouts and after the time period, they would investigate if there is any muscle gain.
The group had a three days per week training program and they were told to flex their arms at a 90-degree angle for 4 seconds for 5 sets.
The results were in favor. The group that flexed their arms when training had a small increase in muscle size. However, they had a big increase in their contracting strength.
On the other side, flexing is not just posing and contracting your muscles for a show. Flexing could be also considered as isometric exercises.
Isometric exercises are exercises that keep your muscles contracted and standing still in the same contraction position. For instance, the plank, plank is one of the most popular exercises for the abs and core.
When you look at the exercise, you find out that it is actually a flexing exercise as you contract your abs and stand still.
Isometric exercises have plenty of benefits and they would definitely build you muscle and strength. So, as we said, flexing is not only showing off your biceps in front of the mirror. Instead, it includes exercises that are truly beneficial.
Advantages of flexing
Helps with injury
Doing isometric exercises is very helpful when it comes to injury. Injured people usually have a limited range of motion that they feel comfortable with.
For example, someone with a knee injury would not feel comfortable squatting, as he/she moves the knees in a big range of motion that could hurt them.
When you hold and contract your leg muscles in one position such as the wall sit, you put very little stress on the joint that could not hurt it. This is why when you have pain or injury in any joint, doing isometric exercises would help you through the injury.
Also, if you are recovering from an injury and you want to strengthen the joint without hurting it by moving in a range of motion that could hurt it, isometric exercise is the solution.
Staying in one position that is not stressful to the joint would help you recover faster from an injury as it will strengthen the surrounding muscles and tendons.
Muscle-mind connection is one of the most heard terms in the fitness industry. Because of its importance, you would clearly listen to it or read it in any fitness article or video.
Muscle-mind connection is simply the messages your mind sends to the muscle to contract and relax. If you are doing squats, your mind sends messages to your legs to contract the hardest.
The problem is, some people lack muscle-mind connection. They could do barbell rows correctly, but they do not feel their back, just their biceps.
By that, they decrease its efficiency and it won’t build the muscles in their back as with good muscle-mind connection.
Fortunately, when you practice flexing certain muscles, you increase your muscle-mind connection in that area so when you workout later, you feel the right muscle.
Commonly, the back is the least felt muscle. But with some people, they might not feel their hamstrings, their chest, or nearly any muscle is possible.
Flexing regularly will increase the connection, therefore increase the exercise efficiency.
Pump and lactic acid
It is no surprise that flexing increases the pump. Try to flex your biceps for a few seconds and you will notice the veins popping through it.
Many great coaches and pro bodybuilders use the flexing approach in their training to increase the pump and to feel the burn while training.
Hany Rambod, who coached three pro bodybuilders to win Mr.Olympia, uses this approach.
Best scenarios and techniques: Isometric Exercises
Plank is one of the most popular isometric exercises that works up your whole core and increases strength and stability. It is great because it offers assistance to big lifts such as the squat, deadlift, and overhead press.
How to do it
To do the plank, rest your forearms and elbow on the floor while on your toes, engage your core and buttocks. While your body is in a straight line, hold still until you reach failure. Don’t forget to keep your breath regulated and don’t neglect it.
Arms Squeeze is an isometric exercise that works up both your biceps and triceps. Almost every one of us does something similar to this exercise.
The arms squeeze exercise is one that offers resistance by your own body as you will be pushing your hand with the other hand, which creates tension in a contracted position.
How to do it
Bend your arm at 90-degree like you would do with the side chest pose. Grab this arm with the other one and press it down. Push with your bent arm against the other while in the contracted position.
The key is to push with both hands in the opposite direction so your bent arm does not move but keep fighting.
Wall sit is an isometric exercise that builds up your legs, hamstrings, and glutes. It is very popular among lifters especially beginners who are unable to perform the squat properly.
Also, if you have an injury in your knees and can not perform a full range of motion movements, this exercise would help you to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the knees to recover faster.
How to do it
To do the wall sit, stand with your back against the wall, keep your feet away by 1 meter or so, bend your knees while lowering and hinging at your hips until your knees make a 90-degree angle. Hold that position for some time then stand up again.
Posing is another flexing technique that would benefit you in regards to building muscle. As the study suggested, flexing your muscles would increase muscle mass when combined with training.
Ideally, you would flex the muscles you trained after each set or after each exercise. For example, if you did some bicep curls, after each set, you would do the double biceps pose and hold this pose for a few seconds.
By doing that, you increase the pump, the burning feeling, and also you have the possibility of building more muscle. The FST-7 training program which has lead Phil Heath and Jeremy Buendia to where they are now uses this technique.
If it’s not for the pump or the possibility of building muscle, then it is for the muscle-mind connection.
If you practiced some posing while training, you will increase the muscle-mind connection which will increase and build your muscles indirectly. Keep in mind to pose the trained muscle after each set.
But, if you felt sore from posing and flexing, try to shorten the duration or just pose after completing each exercise not set.
In conclusion, whether flexing could build muscle or not is a controversial topic and a lot of people got confused in the mix. Studies were not that clear whether flexing is beneficial for building muscle, more research is needed to know for sure.
However, we have discussed all the aspects and techniques that we see as beneficial and how to apply them. By reading this article, this controversial topic would be debunked and you will have all the information you need about it. Read carefully and flex hard.