Body Weight Biceps Workout
Think you need to spend hours at the gym to get big biceps? Think again!
Just look at your average Olympic gymnast. These guys have biceps that would make most gym rats extremely jealous.
And guess what? Their arms were built using nothing but their own body weight!
Here we will take a look at several exercises that work the outer and inner heads of the biceps, as well as the brachialis (the muscle on the outside of your upper arm, between the biceps and the triceps).
Exercise #1 – Towel Pullups
Roll up a towel and throw it over a beam or branch. Now you can do pull ups pretty much anywhere!
This exercise targets the outer biceps and brachialis, as well as BLASTING your forearms! If you haven’t done any grip work, you will be surprised how this exercise will make your forearms grow.
Exercise #2 – Close Grip Chin Ups
Grab a pull up bar with your hands touching, palms facing you. Do a pull up!
This move targets the inner head of the biceps.
If you don’t have access to a pull up bar, you can make an extremely handy DIY suspension trainer for under $15. Check Google for many excellent suggestions.
Exercise #3 – Standard Pull Ups
With your palms facing away, hands around shoulder width apart, do a pull up.
This classic bodyweight exercise targets the outer biceps head as well as the brachialis.
Exercise #4 – Progressing Towards the One Arm Pull Up
Once you can do close grip chin ups for around 10 repetitions, start including “uneven pullups”, where one arm grabs the bar/suspension trainer handle, the other hand grabs that hand’s wrist.
(You might have seen Sylvester Stallone do these in the ‘Rocky’ series)
These will really hit the biceps, as well as developing exceptional grip strength (one hand is supporting your entire bodyweight!)
Go slow and smooth.
After a few months, try working in assisted one arm pullups, holding on to a towel with the non-working hand to add assistance when necessary.
How Many Sets, How Many Reps?
Experts tend to agree that doing sets of 8-12 repetitions is best for muscle growth.
Personally, I like to start out by doing the most difficult exercise first (one arm pull up progressions) for a couple sets, stopping a rep or two before failure.
After that, try doing two sets of each of the other exercises, for a total of 8 sets.
Should I Go To Failure For Each Set?
There are many opinions on this subject. Most fall into two camps – either the “going to failure” group or the “progressive overload” group.
The progressive overload theory says that in order to gain muscle, it is important to increase either the weight lifted or reps/sets performed for each workout.
So if your workout looked like this one week:
- Uneven Pullups- 4/4, 3/3 Towel Pullups- 12,10 Close Grip Chin Ups- 9,8 Standard Pullups 8,8
Then the following workout (the next week) you should do at least one more rep in ONE of those sets.
(Once you get past 12 reps for an exercise, add some weight by wearing a backpack filled with weight (such as a homemade sandbag) or hanging some weight from a belt.)
This approach works best for me. In my experience, if I go to failure and as a result, am sore for days afterwords, I will NOT be able to do more reps during the next workout.