Biceps Chin-Up Isometric, Alternative?

Hey CT,
I tried the biceps chin up isometric hold for 3 mins today and really struggled to feel it in my biceps… I have dominant shoulders and I could feel through them even when I tried really hard to put the focus onto the biceps… Also I could only get 20 sec time under tension to begin which drop in the following reps so I don’t feel I got effective time under tension per set (30-60 sec)… On that-

  1. Is there another exercise I could do which could be just effective? Would inverted rows work using the bicep curl variation (elbows in front of body)? Any others to take away the front felt?

Thanks for the help,

Yes, inverted rows (ideally with rings or trx) would work

Hey CT,
I tried the TRX Inverted Biceps Rows and while I felt a better contraction in the biceps my front delts again were taking over…

Reading up on some of your articles on isometrics-

  1. Should I do preacher curls isometrics instead to take away the front delts? As you lose tension at the tope of the range on preacher curls with a BB, should I hold at the mid point/ 90 degree elbow angle? What would be the best method to use?

Thanks again,

  1. Are you sure it’s the delts taking over and not the biceps tendon you are feeling (which attaches beneath the front delt)?

  2. Yeah, the goal is to have the biceps Under tension for the time frame. So if you are holding a position (on the preacher curl for example) in which there is no tension, it wont work.

  3. You can use the preacher curl for now, but the goal should be to graduate to the TRX then chin-up. As mind-muscle connection improve with your biceps you should eventually be able to graduate

Hey CT,
Yeah it’s the front felt because it’s higher up and I’ve been reassessing my biceps movements and I have found that I have terrible biceps mind muscle connection…

So it may work well to begin with the preacher curl then as you say eventually move up to the TRX than chin ups once I improve the connection…

Thanks again,

Yep, that should do the trick, keep me posted… fixing mind-muscle connection is the necessary first step toward fixing a lagging muscle group. If it’s not good you can use any method and strategy in existence and it will have a limited impact

Yeh I will I actually tried chin up using bands to extend my holds and that felt really good, so ill continue using that and hopefully end up just using my bodyweight by the end…

Just finally,

  1. In terms of overall arm work, would I be best to drop all biceps and triceps exercises except the for the arm day on Thursday? I just feel that I might be over doing it in terms of isolation work as my aim was to dedicate a day to arms and let other days using compound pressing and pushing movements take care of extra stimulus throughout the week for biceps and triceps. Is that a plausible way to think about it? What would be the most effective way to program this?

  2. Also would finishing with loaded stretching be a good idea on arm day when the arms are fully pumped?

  3. Finally with the 3 min isometric hold, after 3 session my biceps feel weaker and smaller, is this normal? and what should I expect to feel and see over the 3 weeks? Will the benefits come rather after the 3 weeks?

Thanks again,

No, you need to practice recruiting the muscles. Just lower the intensity a bit (use less weight, focus on squeezing the biceps, use a slower tempo)

Not right now

They might simply be depleted of glycogen. Maybe in the past you were so bad at recruiting them that you didn’t use a lot of local glycogen. But now with the high time under tension, you are depleting it. Maybe increase carbs around workout a bit. If calories are adequate you can’t be making a muscle smaller while training it hard. It is just a matter of recovery. Don’t freak out, this is normal. Most gains from spec work happen after the spec when you can surcompensate

Hey CT,
The chin ups went great today, I tuck my chin pushing my head forward increases the contraction in the biceps which feels great…

Just on the recovery-

  1. I was checking with the overall volume just wanted to make sure I wasn’t over doing it… I noticed that I would be hitting biceps directly 3 days in a row some weeks throughout the program, is this still ok? So, on the arm day I should hit arms hard and on the other days look to practice recruiting the muscles with lower intensity?

Thanks again,

For 3-4 weeks, yes. The goal is to become better at recruiting the biceps… the more OFTEN you practice doing that, the better you will become. This is an investment in future biceps gains. It’s doesn’t matter if you are not recovering 100% at the moment.


Hey CT,
Ok great, finished another isometric chin up hold, starting to feel a deeper contraction in the biceps… My mind is getting better at identifying the biceps and more importantly keeping that connection for an extended period of time… In fact, it’s something that is improving when I’m working all muscles now, well I more noticeable about it which allows me to concentrate harder on that particular muscle…

Just finally one more thing-

  1. In terms of the investment in future gains, when should I expect to benefit in arm size? After the 3 weeks of 3 min Chin Up isometrics, or more at the back end of the program when volume in arm isolation movements decrease?

  2. If I wanted to complete the program again after I finish it the first time, is having the arm day in there again still be beneficial for arm size, again being a weak point to my physic and something I enjoy doing which is dedicating an day to arms?

BTW really enjoying the Conjugate Bodybuilding Program, after some time only doing low rep work, the higher rep work now feels great with the body responding really well to it…

The later. But really, it’s more a long-term thing. Building muscle takes time. A natural trainee, in an optimal state, might be able to gain 1-1.5lbs of muscle in a month. And that is actually a pretty good month (that would mean 12-18lbs of solid muscle tissue, or about 18-24lbs of body weight in a year… when is the last time you did that?).

And of course this pound of muscle will not be all in your biceps, but rather across your whole body. So it might take a while before you see a significant size change in your arms. If you add 0.2lbs of muscle to each arm per month it will take a few months to see a difference.

I understand that for you, arm size is an emotional issue (to the point where all your insecurities and questions are really annoying to me) and you want your arms bigger YESTERDAY. But you can’t bypass physiology.

What is likely to happen is …

Step one you start to feel a much better mind-muscle connection with your biceps…during that time strength and mostly your capacity to do reps with a given weight on biceps exercises might DECREASE. It’s not that the biceps are getting weaker: it’s that you are more efficient at recruiting the biceps’ fibers on each rep and as a result they get fatigued quicker.

Step two your strength will go back up while maintaining the same level of mind-muscle connection

Step three your strength will reach a higher level than before

Step four your biceps tone will increase: your biceps will feel harder even at rest

Step five you will notice visual changes in size

How long to reach step 5? Who knows… could be anywhere between 4 - 20 weeks depending on how deep in a hole you were, your nutritional status, your recovery, etc.

That’s why few people are able to fix their weak points: they expect immediate results and when they don’t see them they think the strategy is not working and they stop or look for something else.


I personally don’t like having an arm day. But that’s because I don’t like training arms (and don’t like arms questions, hint hint). But if it is motivating to you and you like it, sure you can keep it in.

By the way… PLEASE enough with the biceps questions. You asked at least 20 biceps questions in the past month. There is nothing left to cover. You are in danger of entering Sigil territory when he kept asking question about rings even when I told him that I did not want to talk about that anymore.

Obsession is often one of the causes of failure to reach a goal. From now on you have more than enough info to improve your biceps, just do the work.

Hey CT,
Yeah Ive learnt a good lesson on mind muscle connection which I think will serve me well going forward…

Just one last thing… Only joking

Thanks again for the help on this, appreciate it,