15 Minute Isometrics: The Anywhere Bicep Workout

Looking for the best biceps workout you can do at home? Take it from the most famous bodybuilders and athletes around: no bicep workout is complete without isometrics. The concept of ‘muscle exhaustion’, long-held by fitness experts as an effective way to target certain muscle groups, is an essential tool in isometric exercise. Isometric-based muscle exhaustion enhances traditional workouts by pushing muscles to their limit at specific ranges of the full exercise. Essentially, isometrics can work to effectively isolate the muscle at a specific point in the exercise, thus ensuring the muscle group gets a trainer’s complete attention without resulting in unnecessary fatigue overall.

So, if you want the ultimate arm-sculpting workout, then check out this short, but sweet bicep workout incorporating isometrics. But look closer–a lot of these bicep exercises are already household names. Isometrics is by no means new, but there’s new technology, like the Activ5 device, that can help you track and measure your progress. That’s the magic of isometrics; you can do it any time, anywhere, but a workout tool like Activ5 can help you set proper goals and put you on the path to incredible strength gains.
Just don’t let the 15-minute run time fool you–this workout is a real challenge.

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Muscles Worked: Biceps

How to Do It:

  • From a standing position, hold dumbbells in each hand
  • Keep your elbows close to your torso and your palms facing up
  • Keeping your upper body stationary, exhale and curl the weights up to your shoulders
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells until your elbows are at 90° and hold for 5 seconds – That’s isometrics!
  • Lower the weights until your arms are straight
  • Do 10 reps

Pro Tip:

This exercise can be performed in a seated position for extra back support.  

Iso Wood Chop

Muscles Worked: Chest, Biceps, Core

How to Do It:

  • From a standing position, outstretch your arms in front of you
  • Hold the Activ5 between your palms, positioned outside your left hip
  • Press your palms into the Activ5 while you engage your core
  • Keep squeezing for 15 seconds
  • Repeat for the right hip

Pro Tip:

These exercises are so much more effective if you keep your arms fully extended throughout.

Iso Bicep Curl

Muscles Worked: Biceps, Triceps, Forearms

How to Do It:

  • From a seated position, lean forward
  • Place your left elbow inside your left knee
  • Keep your left arm bent 90°
  • Hold the Activ5 on your left palm
  • With your right arm bent 90°, press down on the Activ5
  • Press for 15 seconds
  • Repeat for the right arm

Pro Tip:

To keep proper posture, keep your abs engaged throughout.


This 15-minute workout is perfect if you’ve got a busy schedule. It’s short and efficient, while requiring as little equipment as possible. Of course, this super convenient isometric bicep workout is just the tip of the iceberg; if you want to target the legs, core, shoulders, and more, check out amazing exercises for almost every part of the body from the Activ5 app. Browse through more insane isometric workouts you can do any time, anywhere, for the fitness experience of the future.

What Is Isometric Exercise?

The Science Behind The Year’s Hottest Workout

Isometric exercise – it’s more than just the next great fitness fad. While obstacle courses, tire flipping, and other flashy workouts are currently en vogue, the fitness world is beginning to move away from a macro-level of fitness, opting for super-efficient workouts with a focus on how muscles work at the micro level. Essentially, more and more athletes, trainers, and regular folks are looking for a more scientific method that truly understand how our muscles, ligaments, and joints work in concert.

Enter: isometric exercise. This form of training has been a staple in both the physical therapy world and bodybuilding, but it’s about to become a household name.

What Is Isometric Exercise?

An isometric exercise or workout is a type of training where the muscle length or joint angle doesn’t change. Simply put, the body stays static while it applies force. Some isometric exercise examples can be as simple as pushing your palms together, or be as intense as holding a barbell at the peak of a curl.

A typical example of an isometric exercise would have a trainee exerting a maximal, or close to maximal amount of force for around 3-10 seconds at regular intervals. Of course, isometric exercise is so simple, it can be applied in a number of different positions for different durations.

But why is isometric exercise so effective? It’s thought that because isometric workouts allow trainers to use maximal effort, it allows them to activate previously untapped muscle groups that may not be activated when it comes to traditional movements.

When we initiate a movement, our brain fires neurons that activates a certain group of muscles called “motor units”. For instance, if we curl a barbel, only certain groups of muscles (like the ones in our biceps) are triggered and activated to perform that motion. However, with isometric training, the maximal effort sends a signal to our brains to activate the previously untapped motor units in our arms, allowing us to train them.

But despite all the gains of isometric exercise, it has a very low impact on the joints. Isometrics doesn’t require trainers to use a full range of motion, making it a favorite for physical therapists helping injured or post-op patients get their strength back. In addition to all of the strength gains of isometric exercise, it has very low impact on the joints. Isometrics allows trainers and physical therapists to help their clients get stronger at specific ranges of motion. It is a favorite of physical therapists during early stages of rehabilitation to help their patients get stronger with less risk of reinjury.


Isometric Exercise Examples

Isometric exercise can be found everywhere – not just in bodybuilding gyms. Planking, mountain climbing, yoga, and martial arts grappling all contain isometric workouts. Even rugby scrumming, a static activity that uses an incredible amount of force, is considered by most players to be a kind of isometric exercise. Being so versatile and customizable, it’s been used for rehabilitation, warmups, stretches, and strength training by all sorts of people all over the world.

The Ancient Foundations of Isometrics

Far from being a recent invention, isometric exercise has been around for millenia. The ancient Greeks referred to isometrics as the ‘soft exercise’. Later in the 12th century, the exercise was studied by Buddhist Monks in the Shaolin Temple in China. Even legendary 19th century strongman Alexander Zass credited isometric training to his success.

Later in the 1950s, scientists and physicians showed evidence of the benefits of isometric exercise, with researchers like Hettinger and Muller publishing studies that concluded isometric muscle contraction efficiently improved strength.

A decade later, athletes like football player Donald Salls were developing fitness programs entirely based on isometric exercises. Today, innovative coaches, researchers and bodybuilders are rediscovering the effectiveness of isometric exercise, and they’re starting to record the benefits of this unique training program when it comes to strength training, flexibility, weight loss, and even injury prevention.


The Benefits of Isometric Exercise

Traditionally, we think of exercises with the highest impacts on our body as the best ways to build strength. But there’s mounting evidence that isometric exercise can result in a rapid increase in strength, without the negative impact. A study from 1995 has shown increases in strength as high as 27% in just 6 weeks of training, while a previous study from 1988 by Thepaut – Mathieu demonstrated an increase of up to 54% in just 5 weeks.

Other studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow, not to mention improving rehabilitation, stamina, bone strength, and so much more.

Debunking an Isometric Exercise Myth

There’s been some talk that isometric exercise only strengthens your muscles in certain positions, but there’s plenty of evidence that isometric exercise results in an overall increase in speed, agility, strength, and even improves a person’s range of motion.

In fact, one recent study by the Journal of Sports Sciences shows that isometric exercise was extremely beneficial for rugby players’ explosive force. Another study from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness showed that isometric exercise improved athletes’ weightlifting performance.

There is, of course, an entire history and a mountain of evidence worth exploring about isometric exercise. But the best way to see if isometrics is the real deal? Trying it yourself.

Tips to Improve Swimming Conditioning

One of the best things about swimming is that it gives you an intense, rigorous workout and it’s fun to do.  Swimming workouts are perhaps the most effective, safe, full-body workouts you can do. It’s great for your heart, increases your flexibility, builds long, lean muscles and strengthens your core. Whether you’re looking for a swimming workout for beginners or you’re a seasoned open water adventurer, we have some dryland workout tips and exercises for swimmers of all types.

Create Swimming Workouts that Make Sense

The best swimming workouts are much more than just swimming laps.  For the best results start with a swimming workout plan and stick to it.  

Warm Up: Warm ups for swimming being outside the pool. Do several arm rotations to the side, in front, and above your head. Do a variety of dynamic stretches, like squats, lunges, knee-to-chest grabs, and a few good old jumping jacks and push-ups always help. If you practice yoga, a sun salutation is a great stretching technique.  Finish your warm up in the pool with 2 or more laps at a slow pace.

Drills: Drills get your heart rate up and your body moving faster. This is the time to focus on your technique before you get tired. Do 2 – 4 laps with a kickboard and 2 – 4 freestyle laps doing a fingertip drag as you recover from each pull. Double the laps if you’re an accomplished swimmer.

Sets: Now it’s time to really get it going. Your swimming workouts should include three key components of swimming training – speed, technique, and endurance. Focus on one thing for each workout.

Cool Down: After your sets you should cool down with 2 – 4 laps (or more) at an easy pace. Once out of the water, additional stretching helps your body recover. Pay special attention to your shoulders, back and hips.

Is Weight Training for Swimmers Necessary?

Weight training should be a part of every workout regimen, including swimming. But weight lifting for swimmers doesn’t mean have to hit the gym three days a week or buy a bunch of weights for your home workouts. You can get the same type of weight lifting exercises with isometrics, which provide the same type of resistance by using your own body and gravity.

Weight training also doesn’t mean you get big and beefy. It depends on the amount of weight you lift and types of exercises you do. Weight lifting breaks down muscles, so lifting heavier weights can limit your speed and endurance, at least at the beginning of a weight training regimen. We recommend lifting lighter weights with more reps to build strength and endurance without bulking up.

Weight training for swimmers is more about strength training than anything else. Building your strength will make you a faster swimmer, and it also helps you avoid injuries. Swimmers are susceptible to shoulder injuries, such as inflammation, rotator cuff injuries, and should impingement syndrome. Swimmers are also prone to neck and low back pain. So, reduce the risk of injury and swim faster by including a strength training element to your swimming workout plan.

The Best Exercises for Swimmers

Exercises for swimmers don’t have to be done at the pool or the gym. Again, with isometrics you can exercise at home using your own body as the gym. Here are several exercises that will build your strength and endurance, increase your flexibility, and improve the quality of your swimming workouts in the pool.

Shoulder External Rotation

Isometric Shoulder Exercises

  • Bend your left elbow by your side to 90 degrees.
  • Reach your right arm over and place your right palm on the outside of your left forearm.
  • Press your palm against your forearm, squeezing both shoulders and upper back.
  • Repeat with your right arm.

Jump Squat

Isometric Leg Exercises

Add power to your lets with this plyometric variation on the traditional squat.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly bend your knees, keeping them above your toes.
  • Stop when you’re halfway down and hold it for 10 seconds. This is an isometric hold.
  • Go as low as you can with your arms out parallel to the floor.
  • Now, instead of raising slowly back up to standing position, leap into the air with your hands reaching up high. If you’re indoors, make sure you don’t hit the ceiling. Land on the balls of your feet for a soft landing.

Trunk Rotation

Isometric Ab Exercises

Powerful swim strokes require a strong core. Combine this exercise with a standard crunch.

  • Place your left palm on your right shoulder.
  • Keep your right arm relaxed by your side.
  • Keep your back straight and both hips square. Rotate your torso to the left as you push your left palm into your right shoulder.
  • Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Do this complete exercise 10 times.

Isometric “Military” Press

Isometric Shoulder Exercises

  • Stand up straight and bend your left elbow by your side, fist up.
  • Place your right palm on top of your left fist. Your right arm should be parallel to the ground with your elbow bent about 90 degrees.
  • Press your right palm into your left fist and hold this for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Do this complete exercise 10 times.

Improve Swimming Conditioning with Activ5

The best swimming workouts are often done outside the pool. It’s about preparing your body to perform at maximum potential when you’re in the water. It doesn’t matter if you’re a competitive swimmer or just looking for a good cardio swimming workout, an isometric strength training program will get you to where you want to be faster, safer, and more efficiently than any other workout regimen. And to improve your isometric workouts, consider Activ5 which has over 100 gym-based isometric exercises that improve your strength, endurance, flexibility, and power. Activ5 makes workouts fun, tracks your progress on a sophisticated smartphone app, and functions as a game controller.

Remember to consult with your physician before beginning any exercise routine.