This Workout Uses 'Iso Holds' for Fast Muscle-gain and Bigger Arms

·3-min read
Photo credit: photographer - Getty Images
Photo credit: photographer - Getty Images

It should come as no surprise that lifting big weights is a sure-fire way to pack on serious muscle mass. But, if you’re limited to smaller dumbbells at home, working out in a hotel gym, or just looking to switch things up to eke out some new growth, we’ve got a simple protocol that’s going to make those light weights feel heavy.

All you need to do is hold on tight. Using isometric holds, both before and after a heavy rep arm burner, we’re pre-exhausting the muscles working (in this case the biceps and triceps) and forcing them to work harder and recruit more muscles fibres, before taking them to the absolute limit with another, savage, max-effort hold.

You’re going to be switching between the biceps and triceps, giving them somewhat of a reprieve between sets, but your aim here is to make your way through three to five rounds of the following circuit with minimal rest, tapping up every last muscle fibre to aid in your quest for bigger guns.

Disclaimer: This protocol pretty much guarantees whimpers and groans- so don’t perform in front of anyone you’re trying to impress-

1. CHIN-UP ISO HOLD x 30 seconds

Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing your body. Lift your feet off the floor and hang freely with straight arms (A). Pull yourself up by flexing your elbows, pinching your shoulders together. (B). Touch the top of your chest to the bar and hold yourself in this position, squeezing your biceps as hard as possible for thirty seconds before dropping.

2. BICEP CURL x 20

Immediately grab a light set of dumbbells and stand tall, holding them at your sides (A). With minimal momentum, curl both of your dumbbells upwards, turning your palms in, until your little fingers are near your shoulders (B). Squeeze here and lower the weights under control.

3. CHIN-UP ISO HOLD x Max Effort

With your curls finished, jump straight back to the bar with no rest, repeating your hold. This time your goal is to keep your chin above the bar (A) for as long as possible, fighting gravity and squeezing those biceps, hard, until you drop.

4. DIP ISO HOLD x 30 seconds

Jump up on two parallel bars with your palms facing inward and your arms straight (A). Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they don’t flare outward (B). Hold yourself in this position, focussing on not allowing yourself to drop any further for a full 30 seconds.


With no rest, lay flat on a bench or the floor with your dumbbells locked out overhead (A). Bend at the elbows, slowly lowering the bells towards your head, whilst keeping your upper arms locked in place. Stop just short of the bells touching the floor (B) before extending back up explosively. Repeat.

6. DIP ISO HOLD (two positions) x Max Effort

After your final extension, jump straight onto your parallel bars (A) and lower yourself back into your 90 degrees hold (B). Hold this position for as long as possible, as soon as you begin to drop, use your legs to drive you back up into a straight-armed position (A), and hold here for as long as possible.

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