Last updated on October 27th, 2022 at 12:12 pm
Do you want to know, “Why Are My Biceps Soft When I Flex?”
Let’s face facts, we all love to train biceps.
There’s nothing more satisfying than a huge set of guns.
It screams muscular, athletic, and “I definitely work out”.
With that being said, you may have noticed that your biceps are soft when you flex them.
And this may be the case regardless of how big and well-developed they are.
Allow me to explain what’s going on here.
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Why Are My Biceps Soft When I Flex?
The main reason your biceps are soft when you flex them is because they’re carrying a layer of fat. It’s impossible to spot reduce fat from the body or to control where fat may form. You should ensure that you properly contract the muscles when training biceps. Additionally, don’t go too heavy when working biceps, but concentrate more on maintaining tension. You may also find that your biceps are soft if you’re taking creatine, as this draws water into the muscles.
1. Your Biceps Have a Layer of Fat
Unfortunately, there’s no way around it, pure and simple, your biceps are carrying a layer of fat.
You could even have a set of rock-solid triceps, and yet your biceps are as squishy as hell.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose what areas of our body hold onto fat.
And everyone is different.
So, what works for one person in terms of fat loss may not work for another.
Plus, it’s impossible to spot reduce fat from the body.
Basically, we are all individuals, so our body will decide where fat will settle and where we will lose it first.
The first place to look is of course your diet.
I know we all expect to typically see our stomach hold onto fat if we’re not eating right, but as I’ve said, we don’t really have much control over where fat decides to settle.
Additionally, if you’re going through a bulking phase then you can expect the body to store some of the additional calories as fat.
And this will typically mean that your muscles will feel softer.
However, this will only be a temporary thing until your bulking phase is over.
Taking diet and bulking out of the equation, the way you train your biceps could have an impact.
So, I want to cover these in more detail now.
2. You’re Not Properly Contracting When Your Train Biceps
One of the main mistakes I see when it comes to training the biceps is people not contracting the muscles.
With every exercise you perform, irrespective of body part, you should look to contract the target muscle.
Basically, this lets you know that you’re really working the muscles.
I will also say that when it comes to bicep training the most important aspect is to ensure that your elbows stay fixed in the same position throughout.
Let’s take barbell bicep curls as an example.
For me, the exercise ends once the barbell is in line with your nipples.
However, most people will continue the trajectory of the bar until it’s at around throat height.
Firstly, take a look at where your elbows are.
They are definitely no longer in the same position as when you started the curl and have moved forward.
Secondly, once you travel past the nipple line you are no longer working the biceps, but have now brought the shoulders into play.
So, keep your elbows tucked into your sides and ensure they never move, not even an inch.
Curl the bar up to your nipple line and then squeeze the biceps as hard as you can.
You can even hold the squeeze for a count of three.
Then slowly lower the bar under full control to the starting position.
That is how you perform a barbell bicep curl.
You may find that you can’t get as many reps, and that’s fine.
This is all about performing the movement correctly and getting the best out of the exercise.
3 Tips For Better Bicep Contractions
3. You’re Lifting Too Heavy
Something else to consider is how much load you’re using when you train biceps.
The biceps are an extremely small muscle and therefore to work them correctly you don’t really need a huge amount of weight.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you’re working your biceps with more weight than they can handle, you’re not actually working the biceps at all.
It’s likely that you’re using body momentum to get the weight up and you’re probably using your forearms more than your biceps.
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Plus, I can guarantee that your elbows aren’t in a fixed position either.
Look, I’m all for progressive overload and lifting heavier weights.
However, this should never be done at the expense of proper form.
Plus, I also feel that the biceps respond better to higher reps and higher volume.
So, it’s probably time to leave your ego at the gym door and reduce the weight for your bicep training.
Trust me, this could make a huge difference to strength, size, and the hardness of your biceps.
4. Tension is Important When Training Biceps
Tension plays a huge role in how well-developed your biceps are, as well whether they’re hard or not.
I’ve mentioned contracting the biceps hard at the top of the movement, but the stretch at the bottom is just as important.
This is often referred to as resting tension.
Basically, you want to keep the biceps tight throughout the entire movement.
However, this is typically done in the wrong way.
Going back to the example of barbell bicep curls, the muscles aren’t usually stretched enough at the bottom.
In fact, most of us maintain a slight bend in the elbow, although this is more down to the fact that our quads get in the way.
This is also why I much prefer to train biceps with dumbbells and cables.
RELATED===>Are Cables Better Than Dumbbells For Biceps?
This allows me to create a full stretch at the bottom of the movement, which will work the long head of the bicep.
I would also say that time-under-tension has a part in bicep growth and hardness.
I like to work a muscle for around 40 seconds for optimum hypertrophy performance.
However, this means that I can’t completely relax at the bottom of the movement.
So, even though my biceps are being stretched, and therefore “relaxed”, I still maintain tension in my arms throughout.
The best way to achieve this is to contract the triceps at the bottom of the movement.
One of my favourite bicep exercises that allows you to adhere to all of these factors is the seated incline dumbbell bicep curl.
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5. Are You Taking Creatine?
I’ve already spoken about the importance of your diet.
Definitely the number one reason for soft biceps when flexed is fat.
Obviously, this can also occur when you’re bulking.
However, another consideration is whether you’re taking creatine.
If you are then this could provide an explanation for your “soft biceps”.
Creatine draws water into the cells of the muscles.
This is actually why many people feel sick when they first start taking creatine, simply because they’re not taking on enough water to compensate.
RELATED====>Why Does Creatine Make Me Feel Sick?
With that being said, due to the excess of water being drawn to the muscles, they will typically feel softer.
This may also mean that you find many of your other muscles feel softer to the touch too.
However, once you stop taking creatine you should notice that the muscles feel noticeably harder (obviously, as long as you’ve training them effectively).
So, you should now have a better understanding of why your biceps are soft when you flex.
In the main, this is down to the biceps having a layer of fat.
With that being said, you can also ensure that you train the biceps more effectively.
Don’t go too heavy, always contract the bicep at the top and aim for full stretch at the bottom.
You should also try to maintain tension on your biceps throughout any exercise.
Finally, your diet, whether you’re bulking, or if you’re consuming creatine can all have an impact on bicep softness.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.