You can build serious guns even if you can’t find a set of dumbbells anywhere.
Ahhh, biceps. If there’s one thing almost every guy wants, it’s a big pair of ostrich-egg guns. In some ways, despite the “functional training” revolution, arms are still one of the universal calling cards of a powerful physique, noticeable whether you’re hitting the beach shirtless or wearing a Christmas sweater.
Thing is, that generally always means you need weights and you have to do biceps curls. And because of that, you’re limited in your training options, especially if you’re on the road. If you can’t access a pair of dumbbells, very often, you figure you can’t get a good biceps workout in.
There are two problems with that. First off, that means, well you’re not training biceps. And you can’t very well grow your biceps if you never stimulate them with resistance, right? The second issue is a common problem with bodyweight workouts: You wind up defaulting to pushing movements.
You load up on pushups, dips, and burpees, all exercises that have you training overused push muscles. Over time, that rolls your shoulders forward and can cause shoulder issues. At the very least, it leads to an imbalanced physique.
The good news: You actually can build your biceps with bodyweight work. No, there aren’t a ton of bodyweight biceps movements out there, but there are a few. These are the best ones, and they’re your way around the biceps training you don’t feel like you can do.
The Key To Bodyweight Biceps Training
You’re not going to find many motions that isolate your biceps and require body weight, the same way you’ll find few motions that actually isolate your triceps or chest, and you won’t get to isolate exactly one leg muscle with most bodyweight leg moves.
Instead, you wind up with multijoint movements that simply call for major biceps recruitment. That means lots of classic pulling movements, variations of rows and chinups. Your biceps are a key pulling muscle, working in tandem with lats, rhomboids, and, to some extent, rear delts, to help pulling motions happen.
That means you wind up getting a lot of extra pulling work when you enter the world of bodyweight biceps. And that’s never a bad thing.
Your Best Bodyweight Biceps Moves
The classic chinup is sometimes thought of as a lat move and it has a place on back day, but it’s also going to hammer your biceps, too, especially if you spend a bit of extra time squeezing your biceps at the top of each rep.
The inverted row is awesome for firing up your rhomboids. It also attacks your biceps too. For a little extra biceps focus here, flip your hands to an underhand grip and keep them shoulder-width apart; that’ll emphasize the elbow flexion portion of the move, a key function of the biceps.
This favorite of fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., gets you moving along a pullup bar while doing chinups, and that, says Samuel, stimulates a bit of extra biceps and forearm work on every rep. “Your biceps and forearms get extra-fired up, operating both as key movers on every rep and also as stabilizers against the movement along the bar,” says Samuel.
Samuel uses the move in multiple ways, he says. “You can use this in a biceps workout,” he says, “or use this as your last back exercise on an all-out pull day, since it’ll do an exceptional job of warming up your biceps for, say, standard curls.”
Towel Inverted Row Hold
Again, you’re blasting your biceps and shredding forearms too. This is another favorite from Samuel. “This is isometric, but the blend of the towel and the hold winds up really challenging your biceps,” he says. By the end of each iso-hold, your forearms and back muscles are fatigued, so your biceps wind up playing a critical role in the hold.
Very few biceps moves that utilize your bodyweight let you change upper arm angles relative to torso, but the TRX curl allows you to do that. (Need a TRX? Grab one below.) To do it, face a TRX and grasp its handles with an underhand grip, core and glutes tight so your body is in a straight line from feet through shoulders. Your upper arms should be at a right angle to your torso. From this position, curl your entire torso upwards, squeeze your biceps, then lower.
The trick with this one, says Samuel, is to maintain the arm angle. “Don’t let that angle close,” he says, “or else this becomes a more back-focused, row-style move.” Also, understand that this curl is scaleable: Stand taller, and the move becomes easier. The more you let your torso get parallel to the ground, the harder the curl becomes.
Author: Ebenezer Samuel
Source: Men’s Health: The 5 Best Bodyweight Moves to Build Your Biceps