Flexing muscles is more than just showing off your newly acquired muscle bulk. In fact, flexing itself can be a source of muscle bulking. Get ready, get set and flex.
Benefits to Resistance Training
Muscle flexing often occurs when performing resistance training exercises, either without equipment or with equipment such as resistance bands, free weights and weight machines. Aside from strengthening muscles, resistance training offers a number of other benefits, which, according to the Better Health Channel of Victoria, Australia, include:
- Flexibility and balance
- Weight management
- Improved posture
- Improved sleep and sense of wellbeing
- Decreased injury risk
Find the right resistance training routine that includes a designated number of repetitions, resting time and sets and includes a variety of different motions, including flexing.
Building Muscle by Flexing
A small study featured in the April 2014 issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology, measured whether flexing increases muscle size. The researchers tested 16 young men divided into a training group and a control group. The training group had to complete a program in which they flexed their biceps and triceps three times a week by contracting the elbow flexors four seconds at a time. During each workout, they performed five sets of 10 repetitions over the course of 12 weeks.
After the 12 weeks, the group that had performed the flexing exercises had increased the size of their biceps and triceps. Moreover, the flexing group increased their maximal contraction ability and could contract their biceps 15 percent harder and their triceps, 46 percent harder.
The bottom line is that to build muscle by flexing, you can simply do it by contracting the muscles on a regular basis. Of course, using weights wouldn't hurt and could even expedite the muscle growth process, but it's not absolutely necessary.
Read more: The Best Way to Gain Lean Lean Muscle Mass
A Study on Thought Power
Another small study published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology, with 29 healthy adult participants and 15 control group participants, found that simply thinking about flexing your muscles can yield results. In the study, participants were made to wear casts. Half the group were asked to think about flexing their muscles for 10 minutes a day, five days a week, and the other half were asked to do nothing.
When the casts were removed, it was found that simply thinking about flexing, attenuated loss of muscle strength in individuals by about 50 percent, meaning the muscles of the group that thought about flexing were nearly twice as strong as they were at the outset of the study period. Although the study was small, it suggests that neurological mechanisms may contribute to muscle weakness induced by disuse.
Flexing Muscles Exercises
There are several flexing muscles exercises you can try at home or at the gym, some of which are described by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Move! Program:
Move 1: Plantar Flexion
- Stand straight with your feet flat on the floor and hold on to a table or chair for balance.
- Raise up to tiptoe as high as possible and hold this position for one second.
- Lower your heels back down.
- Do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions for two to three sessions per week.
Move 2: Knee Flexion
- Stand straight and grip a table or chair for balance.
- Bend one knee as much as possible without moving the upper leg so that your foot lifts up behind you.
- Hold for one second; then lower back down.
- Do eight to 12 repetitions per side, two sets per side and two to three sessions per week.
Move 3: Hip Flexion
- Hold on to a table or chair for balance.
- Bend one knee up toward your chest and hold it there for one second.
- Lower your leg and repeat.
- Do eight to 12 repetitions per side, two sets per side and two to three weekly sessions.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs MOVE! "Sample Strength Activity Plan for Beginners"
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: "Neuromuscular Adaptations Following 12-Week Maximal Voluntary Co-Contraction Training"
- Better Health Channel: "Resistance Training - Health Benefits"
- Journal of Neurophysiology: "The Power of the Mind: The Cortex as a Critical Determinant of Muscle Strength/Weakness"