Bulk Up Your Biceps with These 15 Bodyweight Workouts

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Who doesn’t want biceps that look great in a tank top and can do impressive things (like wield Thor’s hammer or Captain America’s shield)? Doing regular bodyweight workouts will strengthen your biceps — and it can’t hurt your chances of becoming the next Avenger.

You don’t need to aspire to Teyana Taylor or Jason Momoa levels of buffness, either. (Though, if you do, makes sense.) No matter what your #goals are, there are some moves out there just for you — no dumbbells or barbells required.

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As a bonus, relying on the weight of your body makes things safer and easier than using heavy equipment. Not only can you do these exercises without leaving your house, but you don’t risk dropping a 100-pound weight on your toe (ow).

Now, time to break down how to work those biceps.

Bodyweight workouts for when you want to take it slow

Plank

Planks work your core for sure, but they also give your biceps a major boost.

Start in prone position, with hands on the floor and elbows under shoulders at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your chin and keep your spine parallel with the floor.

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Draw your belly button in and push through your biceps. Hold for as long as you can. Repeat.

Side plank

Your shoulders might work hard in this pose, but your biceps just might work harder.

Start on your right side. Put your right hand on the floor and push up until your arm forms a straight line from shoulder to ankle. (Only the side of your foot and the palm of your hand should touch the floor.) Hold for as long as you can. Repeat on the other side.

Too tough? No prob. Modify the pose by placing your forearm on the floor instead of your hand.

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Yoga poses aren’t just for yoga class anymore. Even if you’re no yogi, this classic move will work your biceps and your core.

Start in standard plank/prone position: hands on the floor, elbows under shoulders at 90 degrees. Lower yourself down so your elbows sit at the same height as your sides. Your chest, upper arms, shoulders, and elbows should align. Push back up to plank position. Repeat.

Dive-bomber push-up

Forget regular push-ups — your biceps will really take off with dive-bombers.

Start in Upward Dog: pelvis on the floor, hips in the air, feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your head down slowly and arch your back. (Pro tip: Pretend you’re lowering yourself under an imaginary bar.)

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Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Towel curl

You don’t need any complicated equipment to do this move — just an everyday bath towel and a chair.

Twist the towel a few times until it forms a long, noodle-like shape. Sitting in the chair with your feet on the floor, place the center of the towel under one foot.

Holding one end of the towel in each hand, slowly bring it toward your face. Use your foot as resistance. Hold for as long as you can. Repeat.

Bodyweight workouts for when you want to kick it up a notch

Inverted row
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This one’s perfect for those who can’t quite do a regular pull-up (yet). You’ll need a bar or rings set to about waist height to do this move.

Lie faceup on the floor under the bar. Grasp the bar with hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away.

Squeeze your abs and butt to keep your bod straight. Hoist yourself up until your chest touches the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat.

Want to make it harder? Lowering the bar will add extra tension in your biceps.

Chin-up
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Chin-ups are serious work for your biceps, triceps, and lats. To perform a proper chin-up, make sure you have a sturdy bar that’s high enough to hang from with your arms extended, without your feet touching the floor.

Grasp the bar with palms facing you and hoist yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Lower yourself down slowly and with control.

Isometric chin-up

Like a regular chin-up but isometric — a fancy way of saying the move exerts tension on the muscle without lengthening or shortening it. Basically, the muscle flexes but doesn’t compress and expand.

Start like it’s a regular old chin-up: Grab the chin-up bar, palms facing you, hands shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. But instead of going up and down, hold it as long as you can.

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Can’t actually nail a chin-up yet? Same. You can still do a modified isometric chin-up, though. Use a chair or step to jump into position and hold it.

Want to make things harder? Bend your arms until you reach a 90-degree angle and hold it.

Resistance band biceps curl

Grab your go-to resistance band and sit on the floor with your knees tucked under you. Keep your spine straight.

Slide the resistance band under your right knee. Grasp it with right hand and pull it up toward right shoulder. Your upper arm should stay in place.

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Release and repeat. Then switch to the other side.

Decline push-up

Like a push-up but harder (and slightly more badass).

You’ll need a sturdy bench or couch to do this move. Regular push-ups work your shoulders, chest, and core at once. These push-ups distribute the action to your front half, giving your biceps a tougher workout.

Step your feet up on the bench and do your push-ups as usual.

Bodyweight workouts for when you really want to bust your biceps

Headbanger
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You don’t need to listen to punk rock to do some headbangers. Start by grabbing your chin-up bar with your palms facing you, hands shoulder-width apart.

Hang with arms almost straight (but not locked). Pull yourself up until arms reach a 90-degree angle.

Now, move your bod forward and back explosively, almost as if you wanted to head-butt the bar. (But be careful: You absolutely don’t want to actually head- butt the bar.)

Hold for about a minute, or as long as you comfortably can. Take a minute of rest. Repeat.

Towel chin-up
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Like a chin-up but with a towel. Also: twice the workout for your biceps and scaps.

Hang a towel around the chin-up bar and grab each side of it with your hands. Now, do some chin-ups.

Lateral plank walk

This one seems innocent enough, but it will have your biceps, triceps, and core screaming in no time.

Start in classic plank position: hands on the floor, elbows under shoulders at a 90-degree angle, spine straight. Tuck your chin.

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Now, time to walk it out. Move right leg and right arm over about a foot. Follow with left leg and arm. Keep moving — just don’t accidentally run into your coffee table.

Commando chin-up

Despite the name, you can actually leave your undies on for this one.

Start with your hands wrapped closely around the chin-up bar, thumbs facing you. Your arms should be about straight.

Hoist yourself up with your head on the left side of the bar. Aim to touch the bar with your right shoulder. Lower yourself down slowly. Repeat on the other side.

Inchworm chin-up
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Inch yourself toward some swole ’ceps with the inchworm chin-up. Your biceps and forearms will definitely feel the burn on this one.

Start in standard chin-up position: palms facing you, hoist yourself up until your chin clears the bar.

Now, lower yourself down — it’s time to get inching. Move right hand about an inch to the right and go back up. When you lower yourself, move your left hand an inch to the right.

Keep moving back and forth along the bar like so.

How to craft your own killer bodyweight workout routine

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Your perfect bodyweight routine will always be unique to your needs. To get it just right, plan on doing some experimenting.

Start by warming up your muscles with at least 5 minutes of cardio. Jumping jacks, a quick jog, or a spin on the elliptical will work to get your blood pumping and reduce your risk of injury.

Then, choose at least three of the above exercises and do 8–12 reps of each. Do at least 3 sets of each move.

Let yourself rest for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes between sets. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, your muscles will thank you later. As you gain strength and confidence, you can increase your reps.

And don’t skip the cooldown! End your workout with another 5 minutes of light cardio. Now, be sure to flex and kiss each bicep — you really did that.

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