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One of the biggest challenges with home bodyweight training is how to effectively work your biceps. When it comes to working that muscle group everything comes down to a variation of the curl. When you’re using weights, you have quite a few options, including barbell, dumbbell, cable, and preacher versions.
But what about when you are only using your body weight? In this article, we identify 5 effective bodyweight bicep exercises that, together, create a great bicep blasting workout that you can do at home.
5 Great Bodyweight Bicep Exercises:
1. Towel Curls
Stand with your back against a wall for balance. Then, holding each end of a regular-sized bath towel, raise one leg just enough to loop the towel under your foot. Use your leg to provide resistance to your arms as you pull up on the towel until you can’t come up any higher. This should be at the point where your forearms are at about a 30-degree angle to your upper body.
This version of curls is more effective if you make use of a slower than normal rep tempo. The movement should take 5 seconds to come up. Take another 5 seconds to do the eccentric part of the curl, applying more pressure to the towel with your foot. The only part of your arms to move should be your forearms, with your elbows remaining fixed at your sides and your upper arms perpendicular to the floor. If you do the exercise strict and slow you will only need to do 5 reps per set for maximum effect.
Doing towel curls in this manner will take a little bit of getting used to. In effect, your own body will be fighting against itself – legs against biceps. Your legs, of course, are far stronger than your biceps. When you are pulling up on the towel think about pulling the towel as hard as you can as if you were going to rip it.
As an intensity enhancer, you can do towel curls one arm at a time.
2. Ledge Curls
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of anything horizontal that is about waist height, stable, and fixed that you can fit your hands under. A kitchen bench, staircase railing, or strong shelve will suffice. Just be sure that the object will not budge.
Put your open hands, palms up, under the protruding surface. Your arms should be straight (you may have to lean back slightly to achieve this). Now try to pull the object up, with the aim of ripping it out of its fixed position. Of course, it will not move, but don’t let that stop you.
As you pull up, slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your back straight, only bending at the waist and elbows, until your chest or chin touches the thing you’re pulling against.
Then slowly reverse the motion, leaning back until you are standing up straight again. Be sure to keep your elbows locked in place, down at the side of your body. Only your hips and elbows should bend. Never stop pulling with your arms, but instead go right into another rep. Each positive and negative rep should be just as slow as when you did the towel curls.
3. Isometric Curls
Grasp the wrist of your working arm with your other hand and push down on it so hard that you can barely raise your arm as you would with any other kind of curl. You will be pushing down with the triceps of one arm to work against the biceps of the other arm.
Hold the isometric contraction for 30 seconds.
4. Close Grip Chin Ups
For this exercise, you will have to make use of a pull-up bar. If you don’t have one look for a way to improvise with an overhead rafter. The close grip chin up is, in effect, a bodyweight curl.
Reach up to grab the bar with palms facing close grip that has your little fingers about six inches from each other. Now hang from the bar and curl your body slightly so that your knees come up. Pull with your biceps and back to bring your chin up to and over the bar. Hold the top contracted position and squeeze your biceps as tight as you possibly can. Then lower back to the start position.
5. Close Grip Chin Up Hold
The Close Grip Chin Up Hold is an awesome finishing off a move that will eke out the last bit of strength from your biceps. With this one, you simply come up to the top position of the chin up and hold for a set length of time.
With the Close Grip Chin Up Hold at the end of your exercise, you won’t be able to hold the top position for very long. That’s ok – when you start to drop, fight it all the way. When you can no longer support yourself, you have reached the point of muscular failure – that’s the point where the gains begin!
This home bodyweight bicep workout is designed to create maximum intensity on the biceps in the shortest possible time to produce the biggest bang for your buck in terms of muscle growth. Allow yourself no more than 30 seconds rest between sets. Move directly from one exercise to the next.
When it comes to the close grip chin up, keep going until you cannot perform another rep. On your last exercise, the chin uphold, try to extend your hold time by 5 seconds on every workout.
- Towel Curls – 3 x 5 reps
- Ledge Curls – 3 x 5 reps
- Isometric Curls – 3 x 30 seconds isometric contraction each arm
- Close Grip Chin Ups – 2 x Failure
- Close Grip Chin Up Hold – 30 seconds hold
Perform this home bodyweight biceps workout twice per week, with at least 48 hours rest between each session. This will allow your biceps to recover and grow. Stay consistent with this workout and you will soon start to see an increase in biceps size and strength.
This article was last updated on March 11, 2021 .