9 Proven bodyweight bicep exercises That Can Help Tone Your Arms

Discover proven bodyweight bicep exercises to help tone and strengthen your biceps for well-defined upper arms

man doing chin-ups bodyweight bicep exercises

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Bodyweight bicep exercises are strength-training movements that use your body’s weight as resistance, targeting the muscles of the upper arm.

You usually perform bodyweight bicep exercises without weights or equipment, making them accessible for various fitness levels and settings.

These exercises engage the biceps and surrounding muscles by utilizing different body positions and angles, helping to improve strength and muscle tone.

Bodyweight bicep exercises offer a convenient option for people seeking to enhance their upper body or want to work on their biceps at home or on the go without requiring specialized gym gear.

chin-ups bodyweight bicep exercises

Best bodyweight bicep exercises that can transform your arms

Below are the most effective bodyweight bicep exercises that can help you target the biceps brachii muscles in your upper arms.

Chin-Ups

chin ups pull up bar exercises - best bodyweight bicep exercises

Chin-ups are one of the most effective bodyweight bicep exercises for directly engaging and strengthening the biceps.

During a chin-up, you use an underhand grip with palms facing you while pulling your body upward toward the bar.

The grip and motion place significant stress on the biceps, making them a valuable exercise for bicep development.

Chin-ups also engage the upper back muscles, including the lats and rear deltoids.

The combination of muscles working together makes chin-ups a compound movement that can help build upper body strength and development.

Chin-ups should be high on your workout regimen if your goal is to target and strengthen your biceps using bodyweight exercises.

Steps to follow for Chin-ups

Pull-Ups

pull-ups - bodyweight bicep exercises

Pull-ups, like chin-ups, are highly effective for directly engaging and strengthening the biceps.

The movement involves using an overhand grip with your palms facing away to grasp an overhead bar. You then pull your body upward toward the bar.

The grip and motion place significant stress on the biceps, making pull-ups one of the most valuable exercises for bicep development.

Pull-ups also engage the upper back muscles, including the lats, rhomboids, and rear deltoids.

This comprehensive engagement of multiple muscles makes pull-ups excellent compound bodyweight bicep exercises that can help build upper-body strength and development.

Steps to follow for push-ups

Inverted Rows

inverted row teres minor exercises and best bodyweight bicep exercises

Inverted rows are potent bodyweight bicep exercises that engage and strengthen the biceps and other upper body and back muscles.

Inverted rows, aka bodyweight rows or horizontal rows, involve lying underneath a bar or a suspension trainer.
You then grab the bar with an overhand grip and pull your body towards the bar.

The biceps help to flex the elbows to bring your chest up towards the bar during inverted rows.

Additionally, the exercise engages the upper back muscles, helping to boost upper body strength and posture improvement.

While inverted rows target the biceps, they may not isolate them as intensely as other exercises like chin-ups or pull-ups.

However, they offer a balanced approach to strengthening multiple upper body muscles, making them a valuable addition to a bodyweight workout regimen focusing on upper body strength and development.

Bodyweight Bicep Curls

Bodyweight bicep curls might not provide the same level of resistance and muscle activation as traditional bicep curls using weights or other forms of resistance. But they can be effective to some extent for engaging the biceps, making them a valuable addition to any bodyweight training regimen.

Bicep curls involve flexing the elbow joint against resistance to target the biceps brachii muscle.

In bodyweight bicep curls, you use your body weight as resistance by leveraging against a stable surface, such as a table or countertop. That can create tension in the biceps, helping to work and develop them.

Bodyweight bicep curls can be valuable for beginners, as they provide a stepping stone to more advanced bicep exercises. They can help develop a mind-muscle connection and form part of a well-rounded workout regimen.

Steps to follow

  • Stand upright with your feet at shoulder-width.
  • Extend your arms and place them on a stable surface, such as a table, countertop, or sturdy horizontal bar.
  • Your palms should be facing backward or away from your body.
  • Position your body so you are leaning slightly forward with your arms fully extended.
  • While keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale, bend your elbows, and pull your body upwards.
  • Aim to lift your body by flexing your biceps while maintaining a stable core and body alignment.
  • Ensure your arms are contracted fully at the top of the movement. Position your hands closer to your body.
  • Hold the contracted position briefly to emphasize the bicep contraction.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to your starting position, extending your arms fully.
  • Repeat the curling motion as below:

Beginner

  • Reps: 10-12 repetitions per set
  • Sets: 2-3 sets
  • Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Intermediate

  • Reps: 8-10 repetitions per set
  • Sets: 3-4 sets
  • Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Advanced

  • Reps: 6-8 repetitions per set
  • Sets: 3-4 sets
  • Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Tips

  • Exhale as you curl your body up.
  • Inhale as you lower your body back down.
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
  • Focus on using your biceps to lift your body rather than relying on momentum.
  • Use a controlled and deliberate tempo for both the lifting and lowering phases.
  • Avoid using your lower back to swing your body up; the movement should come from your arms.

Wall Curls

Wall curls, where you lean against a wall and perform a curling motion with your arms, can target and work the biceps. While they may not be as effective as other exercises that involve more direct resistance or a broader range of motion, they can be a valuable inclusion to your list of bodyweight bicep exercises.

Steps to follow

  • Stand about a foot or two away, facing a wall.
  • Extend your arms and place them flat against the wall at shoulder height.
  • Your palms should face the wall.
  • Lean your body into the wall, allowing your body to bend at the elbows.
  • Your feet should remain flat on the floor, and your entire body should lean toward the wall.
  • Keep your hands on the wall and push against it while bending your elbows. Imagine you are trying to peel yourself away from the wall by flexing your biceps.
  • Continue pushing against the wall, creating tension in your biceps.
  • Slowly push your body back to your starting position, extending your arms fully. Ensure you fully stretch your biceps during this phase.
  • Your biceps should fully stretch during this phase.
  • Repeat the curling motion by leaning into the wall and then extending back.
  • Repeat as under bodyweight bicep curls.

Archer Push-Ups

Archer push-ups are effective bodyweight bicep exercises that also engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Archer push-ups are a variation of the standard push-up where you shift your weight to one side while extending the other arm straight out to the side, similar to drawing a bow.

Archer push-ups are excellent for targeting the biceps because they require more effort from one arm while the other extends to the side.

The increased load on one arm engages the biceps of that arm more intensely.

Steps to follow

  • Start in a push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Shift your weight to one side, allowing the other arm to bend as you lower your body toward that side. The elbow of the bent arm should flare out to the side.
  • Keep your body straight line and your core engaged as you lower yourself. Your chest should be between your hands.
  • Push back up to your starting position using your bent arm to return to the push-up state.
  • Repeat the same motion on the opposite side by shifting your weight and bending the other arm as you lower yourself.
  • Repeat 5-8 reps per side and 3 sets to complete a session. Rest for about 1-2 minutes between sets.

Climber Push-Ups

Climber push-ups are dynamic and challenging bodyweight bicep exercises that also engage other upper body and core muscles.

Climber push-ups engage the biceps due to the pushing and pulling motion involved. The biceps help to stabilize the body during the push-up and also help to bring the knee towards the elbow.

Steps to follow

  • Start in a push-up position with your arms placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Lower your body into a push-up, bringing your chest close to the floor.
  • Simultaneously move one knee towards the same-side elbow as you push back up. That mimics a climbing motion.
  • Return the leg to your starting position as you lower yourself into the next push-up.
  • Alternate legs with each push-up.

Resistance band Biceps Curls

resistance band bicep curls

While resistance bands are not considered “bodyweight” exercises in the strictest sense, they are valuable tools for bodyweight-style training and can provide effective resistance for muscle development.

Resistance bands provide continuous tension throughout the movement, helping to challenge the biceps throughout the entire range of motion.

They can be excellent impetus to your bodyweight bicep exercises, especially when no weights or gym equipment are available.

Resistance band bicep curls are a highly effective option to consider if your goal is to work the biceps and you are open to using resistance bands.

Steps to follow

  • Stand with both feet on the center of the resistance band, holding the handles or ends of the band in each arm.
  • Keep your arms fully extended and palms facing forward.
  • Keep your upper arms stationary, exhale, and curl the band handles while contracting your biceps.
  • Continue pulling the band until you fully contract your biceps and the resistance band is at shoulder level.
  • Hold the contracted position briefly as you squeeze your biceps.
  • Inhale and slowly bring the handles or ends of the band back to your starting position.

Suspension Trainer Biceps Curls

Suspension trainers, such as TRX straps, allow you to perform several exercises that use your body weight as resistance. Thus, suspension trainer biceps curls can be effective bodyweight bicep exercises for targeting and strengthening the biceps.

Suspension trainer biceps curls provide continuous tension on the biceps throughout the movement, making them excellent for bicep development.

You can adjust the angle and tension by changing your body’s position to increase or decrease the challenge.

Steps to follow

  • Secure the suspension trainers to a wall or stationary post.
  • Adjust the suspension trainer straps to an appropriate length and ensure they are secure and stable.
  • Stand facing the anchor point of the suspension trainer, holding the handles with your palms facing up.
  • Step back to create tension in the straps. Your body should be leaning back slightly.
  • Keep your upper arms stationary, exhale as you flex your elbows, and curl the handles towards your shoulders.
  • Inhale and slowly lower the handles back to your starting position.

Recommended Reps and Sets

  • Reps: 8-12 repetitions per set
  • Sets: 3-4 sets
  • Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Benefits of Bodyweight Bicep Exercises

Bodyweight bicep exercises offer several benefits, making them valuable to your fitness regimen, especially if you want to build arm strength without weights or equipment.

  • Convenience
    You can do bodyweight bicep exercises virtually anywhere, making them ideal for home workouts, travel, or when you don’t have access to a gym.
  • Cost-effective
    You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment.
    That makes bodyweight bicep exercises a budget-friendly option.
  • Functional strength
    Bodyweight exercises often involve multiple muscle groups working together, promoting functional strength and coordination that can help in daily activities.
  • Engagement of stabilizer muscles
    Bodyweight exercises often engage stabilizer muscles to maintain balance and control, leading to a more comprehensive workout.
  • Joint-friendly
    Many bodyweight bicep exercises are low-impact. That means they put less stress on your joints.
  • Variety
    There are numerous bodyweight bicep exercises to choose from, allowing you to vary your routine, target different parts of the biceps, and prevent boredom.
  • Scalability
    You can adapt bodyweight bicep exercises to various fitness levels.
    You can modify the intensity by adjusting repetitions, sets, and the angle of the exercise, making them suitable for beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts.
  • Increased relative strength
    Relative strength is a measure of strength relative to body weight.
    Bodyweight bicep exercises can help improve relative strength by building muscle and enhancing the ability to move your body efficiently.
  • Functional aesthetics
    Bodyweight bicep exercises can help sculpt and define the upper arm muscles, contributing to a balanced, aesthetically pleasing physique.
  • Time efficiency
    You can incorporate many bodyweight bicep exercises into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) regimens, allowing you to achieve effective workouts quickly.

Are Bodyweight Bicep exercises effective?

Bodyweight bicep exercises can help build and strengthen the biceps, especially for beginners or those without access to gym equipment.

  • Consistency
    Like any workout routine, consistency is crucial. Regularly performing bodyweight bicep exercises with proper nutrition and rest can lead to muscle growth and strength gains.
  • Progressive overload
    You will need to challenge your muscles progressively to continue seeing results.
    You can achieve that by increasing the number of repetitions and sets or modifying the exercise difficulty, e.g., changing the angle or trying more advanced variations.
  • Form and technique
    Proper form is essential to maximize the effectiveness of any exercise.
    Incorrect form can lead to inefficiency or even injury.
    Focus on maintaining good form and control during each repetition.
  • Variation
    Incorporating different bodyweight bicep exercises can help target the muscles from various angles and prevent plateauing.
  • Individual goals
    If your goal is to maintain general fitness, increase functional strength, or work on your biceps without a gym, bodyweight bicep exercises can be highly beneficial.
  • Nutrition
    Diet plays a significant role in muscle growth. Ensure you are consuming adequate protein and calories to support muscle development.

Limitations of bodyweight bicep exercises

While bodyweight bicep exercises can help build strength and muscle, they have some limitations compared to movements that involve external weights or resistance equipment.

  • Limited resistance
    Bodyweight exercises rely on your body weight as resistance.
    Your body might not provide enough challenge for more advanced lifters or exercisers seeking significant muscle growth.
  • Lack of progressive overload
    Progressive overload is essential for muscle growth.
    You may find it harder to increase resistance consistently with bodyweight exercises.
  • Plateauing
    Your body can adapt to bodyweight exercises over time, leading to plateaus in strength and muscle gains unless you continually vary the exercises and techniques.
  • Isolation
    Many bodyweight exercises engage multiple muscle groups, making it challenging to isolate specific muscles like the biceps for focused development.
  • Exercise variability
    While there are various bodyweight bicep exercises, the variety might not be as extensive as the options available with weights or resistance machines.
  • Equipment limitations
    Some bodyweight exercises require specific equipment (like a pull-up bar or parallel bars) that might not be readily available to everyone.

Ways to make bodyweight bicep exercises more effective

You can apply various strategies to increase the intensity and promote muscle growth to make bodyweight exercises for the biceps more effective and challenging.

pull ups - lat pulldown alternatives

Adjust reps and sets
Increase the repetitions and sets you perform for each exercise to create more muscle volume and fatigue.

Vary your hand Placement
Experiment with different hand placements during exercises like push-ups and dips to target the biceps from different angles.

  • Slow down the tempo
    Perform the eccentric or lowering phase of bodyweight bicep exercise slowly and with control, emphasizing muscle contraction.
  • Use isometric holds
    Incorporate isometric holds at different points during the range of motion to increase time under tension and engage the muscles more intensely.
  • Increase the time under tension
    Focus on slowing the movement and holding the contracted position for longer during each repetition.
  • Modify lever length
    Adjust your body’s positioning to change the lever length during exercises like rows or push-ups, making them more challenging.
  • Use Variations
    Explore more advanced variations of exercises, such as one-arm push-ups, one-arm rows, or pistol squats, which engage more stabilizer muscles and require more effort.
  • Add Resistance
    Use resistance bands, weighted vests, or a backpack filled with books to increase resistance during exercises like push-ups, dips, and rows.
  • Progressive Overload
    Gradually increase the resistance, intensity, or complexity of exercises as your strength improves.
  • Combine exercises
    Create supersets or circuits that combine different bodyweight exercises to target multiple muscle groups and increase intensity.
  • Rest-pause technique
    Perform a set of reps until near failure, take a short rest, then continue with a few more reps until you reach failure.
  • Active rest
    Use active rest periods between sets to perform low-intensity exercises like planks or jumping jacks to keep your heart rate up and increase calorie burn.
  • Mind-muscle connection
    Focus on consciously contracting and engaging the biceps during each repetition to maximize their involvement.
  • Incorporate plyometrics
    Include explosive movements like clap push-ups or explosive jumps to challenge the muscles differently.

Final words from LiveLIfe

You don’t need complex equipment to target and work your biceps. Embracing a variety of push-ups pulls, holds, and curls can help create a well-rounded arm workout that challenges your muscles and promotes strength development. And you can do that with bodyweight bicep exercises.

While there are limitations, bodyweight bicep exercises remain an excellent option for building and toning your biceps, especially for beginners, those looking for functional strength, or anyone wanting to maintain or enhance their arm muscles without a gym or weights.

Incorporate these bodyweight bicep exercises into your fitness regimen and progress gradually by increasing reps, sets, or difficulty as your strength improves.

  1. Dickie JA, Faulkner JA, Barnes MJ, Lark SD. 2017. Electromyographic analysis of muscle activation during pull-up variations. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2016.11.004

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