Flexing is one of the top secrets of advanced and professional bodybuilders. While some may write off flexing as an exercise in vanity, in truth, isometric flexing can make a major difference in your rate of muscle growth, if you use it correctly. When you do it with proper technique and in the right combination with progressive-resistance training, you can actually flex your way to a better physique.
Of course, flexing will help to improve your posing if you're already at a competitive level, but when you're starting out, it can also help you to get to the point where you can compete. Performed in conjunction with high-intensity progressive-resistance training, the isometric contraction of the muscles can stimulate additional gains. Focus your attention on the feel of each muscle, doing the positive and negative portions of the movement in slow motion. And for best results always do full-body flexes. These can take the form of the compulsory poses for competition: the double-biceps, the side-chest and the lat spread, for example. When you do these poses, you're perfecting the way that you'll present yourself in public, making sure that your arms are in the right position. You can also practice transitions between poses, moving slowly in a smooth manner that will give the impression of confidence on stage and that allows for a controlled, prolonged isometric contraction.
It's important to do a full-body flex as often as possible. Since flexing produces muscle gain, if you only flex certain bodyparts, the result can be an unbalanced physique. Your aim should be to maintain or even improve your aesthetic balance, and this means flexing your lower body as much as you flex your upper body. It means flexing your calves. Now, I know that when people ask you to "make a muscle" they are rarely asking for a calf shot. Many people focus on the "bar muscles"; that is, the chest and arms, which are the most visible in a crowded social setting. The point here is that a whole-body flex will result in wholesale muscle gains, balanced throughout the body so that you can move closer to that statuesque ideal that you have in mind.
While flexing is often done in front of a mirror, you can achieve the same results while lying in bed before sleep. You may have heard of a form of meditation that produces a relaxed state by alternately flexing and stretching the individual muscles of the body. With this technique you start with one muscle (say, your right calf). Flex it for 10 seconds, then relax and stretch it for another 10 seconds. Now do your left calf in the same manner. Continue with the right quad, the left quad, and keep on going up until you reach your neck. Focus totally on the muscle in question, letting all of your thoughts and frustrations from the day float away. After you have flexed all of your muscles in this manner, you will immediately feel a sense of overall relaxation. Finish it off with 10 seconds of full-body flex, and fall off into sleep. This system not only produces muscle gain, but it actually promotes good sleep, which will result in greater and more sustained levels of growth hormone release throughout the evening.
Whenever you flex, it's very important to approach it with a positive frame of mind. If you do a whole-body flex and you look in the mirror and say, "Yeah, right. Fat chance," you'll be short-circuiting your potential for muscle growth. (Why should your body work so hard if you're going to be negative about it?) At the same time you shouldn't be egotistical, thinking, "I'm one very hot dude." The reason for flexing is not arrogance or vanity, but good solid muscular development. By flexing regularly and acknowledging your hard-earned gains, you'll build confidence in your muscle-making abilities, which will lead to greater growth.
Approach flexing as another part of your balanced training program. Always find room for it at least once per exercise cycle. You can do it on your day off from the gym, or, if you find that you're overtraining to the point where you're still sore and feeling a bit depleted on the day you're supposed to go back to work out, try taking the day off from progressive-resistance training and instead do some flex training. You'll find that your muscles will respond to the attention. Flexing also helps muscular definition and brings out your veins—provided that you've eaten just the right amount of glycogen-sustaining carbohydrates.