Hanging from a bar causes my bicep to feel much harder than when simply holding my arm straight above my head relaxed, without a bar.

This was slightly surprising to me: I used to assume that since the arms are straight during a dead hang, the biceps don't have to do work.

Are they under static contraction just to hang from a bar? Is it an effect of having to grip the bar, or would I observe the same tension in my bicep from being suspended at the wrists?

Why does this happen?

  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't contract, it tensions. Contract means it gets shorter, which would mean your are pulling your bicep. I just tested what you said, with one hand on a bycep, and hanging by one arm. The bicep doesn't contract. perhaps you should ask people on a bodybuilding or physio forum, reddit is easy perhaps. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @aliential thanks for pointing out the correct terminology. I thought this was considered static contraction $\endgroup$
    – minseong
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't notice that it contracted though... even when you hold the arm straight, without clasping something, it does the same, it tensions, and it doesn't tension fully when you have all your weight on one arm, it depends how much you manage to relax the shoulder at the same time. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @DwayneDeSouza when I hold my arm straight without clasping anything, my bicep still feels very soft as if it's completely relaxed. When I am hanging from straight arms, my bicep feels very hard. $\endgroup$
    – minseong
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 15:07


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