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  1. #1
    Registered User backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    When to flex during an exercise? (peak contraction principle)

    I always heard of the peak contraction principle, but for the barbel curl for example, i always thought that when your arms go up during the bicep curl, i had to flex my biceps while the barbel was still coming up. So basically when my forearms are parallel to the floor till the moment where my arms up to the top of the curl moment.

    But now i've been reading/hearing that the only time you truly flex your bicep is when the movement is already finished when the barbel is already at its highest point.

    So could someone tell me when the best time to flex is? Is it always when the ''half'' rep is completely done? (as in bringing the weight up before down)
    With triceps it's more obvious because you can only really flex them when your arm is straight which would be at the end of the exercise.

    Same question with bench: Take dumbbell flies for example.
    Now when i bring the weights up, i try to flex my chest as i bring the weights up all the way untill the dumbbells are together and then squeeze my chest.
    But should i just bring the weights up normally, and only flex/squeeze my chest once my dumbbells are all the way up, at the end of the rep?

    I hope to get some answers cuz i want to get the maximum out of my workouts.
    Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
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  2. #2
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    I doubt it really matters as long as you aren't flat out cheating, using the fullest possible range of motion in the target muscle and you are taking every set to the point of sufficient exertion.

    Technically you can't avoid flexing the bicep during a curl... I guess you are using a slightly different meaning of the word?

    Perhaps you get some extra isometric effect by 'flexing' at the end of the movement but this is probably just creating a feeling that you are doing something rather than making any significant contribution... IMHO
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    Registered User backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post

    Technically you can't avoid flexing the bicep during a curl... I guess you are using a slightly different meaning of the word?
    For the bicep curl, i mean flexing as hard as possible to really force that pump.
    So i was just wondering, am i supposed to flex at the very top/end of the movement. Or when i'm near the top still coming up. I believe it's the latter.

    Arnold mentions it here: https://youtu.be/NVnMecXPafM?t=2657
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    Registered User oldandintheway's Avatar
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    Flex when you’re in the locker room. That’s the only place the shmoes will appreciate it
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    Sarcastic Sage PTzFree's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    ...as long as you aren't flat out cheating...Technically you can't avoid flexing the bicep during a curl...
    ^^^ This.
    Continuing with the bicep curl as the example...
    If you are using correct form, not cheating it up with your shoulders and back, it is a flex the entire time. If you're really doing it right, you should still be "flexing", i.e. - putting tension, on the muscle as you're letting it down also.
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    Registered User backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PTzFree View Post
    ^^^ This.
    Continuing with the bicep curl as the example...
    If you are using correct form, not cheating it up with your shoulders and back, it is a flex the entire time. If you're really doing it right, you should still be "flexing", i.e. - putting tension, on the muscle as you're letting it down also.
    I agree however if you're lifting a plain barbel for example for warm ups. The biceps get flexed during the movement alone, but it doesn't require that much strength. They won't get flexed to the maximum.
    So i was just curious to consciously flexing it as hard as possible at the top or towards the top of the movement.
    Maybe it's completely useless, i don't know. But Arnold mentions it in his videos, his encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding etc, so i figured i ask.

    Originally Posted by oldandintheway View Post
    Flex when you’re in the locker room. That’s the only place the shmoes will appreciate it
    I'm talking bout flexing for muscle growth/stimulation. Don't care about anyone else.
    Arnold mentions it here as well. Not to just flex at the top/near the top of each rep, but also post set. https://youtu.be/NVnMecXPafM?t=3348
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    Registered User jk202's Avatar
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    You should initiate every single exercise by focusing on contracting the target muscle in the lengthened position
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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    At the top of the movement if your forearms are vertical then there may not be that much load on the biceps so I can see why it would feel different to purposely flex them in that position. I would attempt to try to fully contract the biceps throughout the full range of motion.
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    Registered User Garage Rat's Avatar
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    You are as mentioned, already flexing throughout the range of motion but feel it toward or at the fully contracted position.
    If you were to say flex your arm(bicep)and bend it half way under tension hold then flex to full lockout you'll feel the difference.
    Both are flexed as much as possible at the position they are in.
    So focus on flexing throughout your lift even if it doesn't feel the same.
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