20 Effective Bodyweight Bicep Exercises – Garage Gym Pro

Everybody wants big biceps since it is one of the most visible muscles.

The importance of the biceps brachii is not only aesthetic, so exercises that target this muscle should be part of your workout routine.

While it is simple to target biceps in the gym using dumbbells, barbells, EZ bars, and machines, it is way more challenging to build biceps by doing weightless bicep exercises, compared to triceps, for example.

In this article, I'll show you 20 of the best bodyweight biceps exercises you can perform practically anywhere.

Most of the following 20 bicep bodyweight exercises activate many other upper body and even lower body muscles, and as such, they are ideal to be part of a calisthenics workout.

If you have an interest in doing these bodyweight exercises and many more, check out our guide on building a calisthenics home gym here!

1. Bodyweight Side-Lying Biceps Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, core

You can do this exercise as part of your biceps training always.

You need just your body weight and the floor, although it is recommended to use a yoga mat or similar soft surface to avoid elbow and forearm pain.

When you are performing side-lying bodyweight bicep curls, you cannot go through the full range of motion, but that is not so important because the stimulation of the muscle fibers is great.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Lie on only the side.
  2. 2
    Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.
  3. 3
    If you are lying on your left side, place your left hand under your left leg.
  4. 4
    With your hand, pull up your leg until you feel the muscle activity of the biceps.
  5. 5
    Hold for a second, and then slowly lower your hand and leg back to the ground.
  6. 6
    When you finish the set, lie on the other side and repeat.
Bodyweight Side-Lying Biceps Curl

2. Bodyweight Standing Biceps Curl With Neutral Grip

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, forearms

A weak grip can prevent you from successfully performing this bodyweight exercise for biceps.

However, if you have adequate grip strength, this exercise won't be overly demanding.

Even though it may seem too easy for intermediate and advanced exercisers, you should do it because the muscle goes through full ROM.

For more grip and forearm training, check out our guide to the best dumbbell forearm exercises here.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Choose a stable anchor point.
  2. 2
    You should stand arm's length away.
  3. 3
    Hold an anchor point with both hands firmly.
  4. 4
    Bend yourself towards the anchor point while maintaining your chest up and shoulder down.
  5. 5
    Return to the starting position as slowly as possible.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: If you pull yourself towards the anchor point, you will engage more lats than the biceps, which is not the goal. That's why the whole movement has to come from the elbows.
Bodyweight Standing Biceps Curl With Neutral Grip

3. Inverted Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, forearms, latissimus dorsi

The biceps curl is a significantly harder exercise than the last two we mentioned, so don't be surprised if you can do fewer reps per set.

You've probably tried an inverted row or alternatives before, but this one is different because the emphasis is on the biceps.

Assuming that you don't have the Smith machine or a squat rack available, don't despair; there is a solution.

Two sturdy chairs and something like a barbell can help. Just make sure the chairs can support your weight. Other alternatives are the TRX suspension kit or children's playground.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Adjust the barbell or whatever you are using at the desired height. The lower you set it, the more difficult it will be.
  2. 2
    Get underneath and firmly hold it with an underhand grip shoulder width apart.
  3. 3
    Your glutes and core must be tight to keep your legs and spine straight.
  4. 4
    Curl yourself until your chest touches the barbell.
  5. 5
    Go back down in a controlled manner.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: By switching from an underhand to an overhand grip, the focus will shift more towards the latissimus dorsi.
Inverted Curl

4. Towel Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, forearms

There are so many variations of the towel curl, which makes it one of the top bodyweight exercises for biceps.

Since an everyday bath towel is sufficient, then we can say that no equipment is needed. You just have to decide whether you will do a lying or standing towel biceps curl.

Versatility is another major advantage because you can go with overhand, underhand, and hammer grip, which is simple when using dumbbells but not when doing bodyweight exercises.

If you opt for the lying variation, you can move your legs or torso, and the difference is not significant.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand up straight or sit down.
  2. 2
    Take a towel and place it around both legs if you are sitting or around one leg if you are standing.
  3. 3
    Curl the towel towards your chest by flexing your biceps.
  4. 4
    Actively resist with your leg/legs to make it more strenuous.
Towel Curl

5. Close Grip Chin Ups

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, latissimus dorsi, posterior delts, trapezius, teres major, rhomboids, forearms

Pull-ups and chin-ups should be part of every gym and calisthenics workout routine.

In this position, your entire body weight goes against gravity, so it is very demanding and effective at the same time.

You will notice improvements in strength and muscle mass very quickly. Chin-ups engage not only the biceps but most of the upper body muscles.

The close grip variation additionally puts the biceps in focus.

If you cannot immediately perform close grip chin-ups, start with regular chin-ups. The only equipment you need is a pull-up bar, and you can also find alternatives if you go to a playground.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grip a chin-up bar with an underhand grip. The distance between the hands should be 4 to 6 inches.
  2. 2
    The dead hang position is the starting position.
  3. 3
    From there, pull your body up until your upper chest (or at least chin) reaches the chin-up bar.
  4. 4
    Slowly return to the starting position.
Close-Grip Chin Ups

6. Isometric Chin Ups

Target: Biceps brachii, latissimus dorsi, anterior delts, forearms

Exercises during which muscle contraction occurs but without a change in length are called isometric exercises. Also, the angle of the affected joint does not change.

Isometric chin-ups can be done separately or combined with close grip chin-ups. If you combine them, then during close grip chin-ups, add pauses at the top and middle of the movement.

In case you want to do them separately because the combination is too difficult for you, the effect on strength will also be good.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grip a pull-up bar with an underhand grip, keeping the distance between the hands from 4 to 6 inches.
  2. 2
    Pull your body up to get to the starting position.
  3. 3
    Hold for a few seconds.
  4. 4
    Repeat.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: If you can't do a chin-up, you can start with an isometric variation. Have someone help you get into the starting position or jump to take advantage of the momentum.
Isometric Chin Ups

7. Band Bicep Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

In recent years, resistance bands have become an essential part of an own home workout equipment.

While this isn't technically a bodyweight exercise, we think it deserves a spot on our list.

If you only use a resistance band, then the hammer grip is the most comfortable.

You can add handles, change the underhand and overhand grip and thus target other parts of the upper arm and forearm as well.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grab a resistance band on each end.
  2. 2
    Step with both feet on the center of the resistance band, shoulder-width apart.
  3. 3
    The arms should be completely straight in the starting position.
  4. 4
    Curl the band up and hold for a few seconds.
Band Bicep Curl

8. Head Banger Pull-Up

Target: Biceps brachii, forearms, latissimus dorsi, anterior delts

Compared to classic pull-ups, the headbanger is harder on the biceps and forearms and easier on the lats and shoulders.

For a street workout, you need very strong forearms, and the head banger will help you with that.

You will develop not only strength but also endurance which is important since calisthenics workouts require a higher level of endurance compared to gym workouts.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip, the distance between hands about 6 inches.
  2. 2
    Pull your body up to bring your chin over the bar.
  3. 3
    Now you need to make a horizontal movement by pushing yourself away from the pull-up bar.
  4. 4
    From that position, explosively move back and forward.
Head Banger Pull-Up

9. Reverse Hand Push-Ups

Target: Biceps brachii, triceps brachii, pectoralis major, brachioradialis, anterior delts

If you are a beginner, skip this exercise right away. The reverse push-up is demanding even for advanced exercisers, and the possibility of wrist, elbow, and shoulder injury is always present.

A shoulder injury is especially tricky because if you injure your right shoulder, there is a good chance you will later injure your left shoulder too.

You can use the diamond push-up as a benchmark because if you can't do the diamond push-up, you certainly won't be able to do the reverse.

If you are strong enough, this advanced exercise will be very useful to you for a bicep workout at home.

You can also use push up bars for this movement. Check out our guide to the best push up bar exercises to include more in your routine.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Get to the standard push-up position.
  2. 2
    Rotate your arms and hands outward until your fingers are pointed towards your toes (as much as possible).
  3. 3
    Straighten your legs, engage your core, and get into a front plank.
  4. 4
    Lower yourself toward the ground by bending your elbows.
  5. 5
    Go as low as your wrists’ flexibility allows.
  6. 6
    Push back up.
Reverse Hand Push-Ups

10. Bear Crawl

Target: Biceps brachii, forearms, core, anterior delts, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves

If you are searching for a true full-body exercise, look no further. The bear crawl is a compound movement that activates multiple upper and lower body muscle groups at the same time.

Biceps are not the focal point of the bear crawl, but you will improve strength, agility, and endurance, translating into better overall fitness performance.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Get down on all fours and place your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Spread your fingers, and press your hands and feet on the ground.
  3. 3
    Lift your knees off the ground.
  4. 4
    Keep your left and right knee off the ground the entire time and your core engaged.
  5. 5
    From that position, move the opposite hand and leg simultaneously.
  6. 6
    Keep your spine straight, and do not round your shoulder blades.
  7. 7
    You can do the exercise in place or move a few steps forward.
Bear Crawl

11. Commando Chin Up

Target: Biceps brachii, forearms, core, anterior delts, latissimus dorsi

Many personal trainers classify the commando chin-up as an advanced variation.

On the other hand, my opinion is that this exercise is not as demanding as clapping, archer, or one-arm pull-ups, not to mention muscle-ups.

That's why I recommend the commando chin-ups to intermediate exercisers too.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grab the chin-up bar from the side, thumbs facing you.
  2. 2
    You can put one hand in front of the other or palms facing each other.
  3. 3
    Straighten your arms to reach the starting position.
  4. 4
    Keep your core tight to prevent swinging.
  5. 5
    Pull your body up until one of your shoulders touches the bar.
Commando Chin Up

12. Lateral Push-Up Walk

Target: Biceps brachii, triceps brachii, forearms, core, anterior delts, glutes

I recommend you do a lateral push-up walk at the beginning of the workout as part of the warm-up. It will help you warm up most of your body, including your biceps.

If you want to do it during the main part of the training and not at the beginning, you can make it more difficult by putting a mini resistance band around your wrists and ankles.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Start in the classic push-up position.
  2. 2
    Hands should be wider than shoulder-width apart and feet close to each other.
  3. 3
    Move one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously (or you can move the arm and the leg from the same side, the effect is practically the same).
  4. 4
    Make a few steps to one side and then return.
Lateral Push-Up Walk

13. Side Plank

Target: Biceps brachii, core, obliques, anterior delts, glutes

At first, you probably won't realize how hard the biceps actually have to work during the side plank.

Although it is not one of the isolation bicep exercises, you will probably feel the biceps tomorrow. You can utilize it very well towards the end of training when you start abs exercises.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Start in a standard push-up position and then rotate your body to one side.
  2. 2
    Place your palm on the floor.
  3. 3
    Straighten both arms and keep them aligned.
  4. 4
    Your body should form a straight line from shoulder to ankle.
  5. 5
    Hold for about 30 seconds or as long as you can.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: When you lower your forearm to the floor, you will give yourself stability and make the side plank more suitable for beginners.
Side Plank

14. Suspension Trainer Curls

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

Suspension trainer curls with both hands are the most popular variation.

However, one-arm suspension trainer curls are even better if you can do them. Don't forget to change the angles as well.

More resistance means more adaptation, and unilateral exercises are very useful for correcting imbalances that are common in every person.

If you don't have a TRX at home, check out our list of the best TRX alternatives to find a suspension trainer on the cheap.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand frontal or side on the suspension trainer, and grab one or both handles.
  2. 2
    Extend your arms.
  3. 3
    The feet shoulder-width apart is ideal position.
  4. 4
    Wrists must remain straight throughout the exercise.
  5. 5
    By contracting the biceps, curl yourself up to an upright position.
Suspension Trainer Curls

15. Pull Ups

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, latissimus dorsi, posterior delts, trapezius, teres major, rhomboids, forearms, infraspinatus

The pull-up is one of the basic upper-body strength exercises.

It is even used as part of fitness tests for admission to the army, police, and other similar services because it shows the overall strength of a person.

There are many variations, some of which we have already mentioned.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grab a pull-up bar firmly with an overhand grip. Hands can be placed shoulder width apart, but you can go with a close or wide grip too.
  2. 2
    Let your body hang with your arms fully extended.
  3. 3
    Engage your core.
  4. 4
    Pull your body up until your chin is over the bar.
  5. 5
    Slowly lower yourself.

Suggested Equipment - Best Wall-Mounted Pull Up Bars 

Pull Ups

16. Archer Pull Ups

Target: Biceps brachii, latissimus dorsi, posterior and anterior delts, trapezius, forearms

The archer pull-up is a great bodyweight training exercise, but it's important to pay attention to the correct form.

Many do this exercise incorrectly and thus slow down progress while risking injury.

If you want to get strong enough to do muscle-ups, the archer pull-ups are part of the progression.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grab a bar with an overhand grip keeping hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Pull your body up to bring your chin over the bar.
  3. 3
    The body must be rigid, and then pull yourself to one side to touch your hand with your chin.
  4. 4
    Return to the middle.
  5. 5
    Lower yourself down.
  6. 6
    On the next rep, pull yourself to the opposite side.
Archer Pull Ups

17. Decline Push-up

Target: Pectoralis major, biceps brachii, triceps brachii, anterior delts

With push-ups, we usually want to target the chest and triceps, but we often forget that the biceps are also significantly involved in the movement.

You can do them anywhere without equipment, so they are ideal for a home workout, vacation, or even a rest break at work.

Decline push-ups are better for biceps workout compared to incline and regular push-ups.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Place your feet together on a bench and your hands on the floor wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. 2
    Keep your core tight and your legs straight.
  3. 3
    Lower to the floor and pause for a moment.
  4. 4
    Explosively push yourself back to the starting position.
Decline Push-Up

18. Dive Bomber Push-Up

Target: Pectoralis major, triceps brachii, anterior delts, biceps brachii, core, glutes, hamstrings

The dive bomber push-up will certainly engage the biceps, but also the rest of the body. This exercise is not a classic strength exercise because it improves flexibility and mobility as well.

Those familiar with yoga will notice a similarity between the Vinyasa Flow move and this push-up variation.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Get down on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart.
  2. 2
    Push your hips high in the air.
  3. 3
    Keep your back straight, and knees slightly bent while you are on your toes.
  4. 4
    Lower your head and shoulders down as if going under an obstacle leaving your chest only a few inches from the floor.
  5. 5
    Curve your back and extend your arms.
  6. 6
    Reverse the motion.
Dive Bomber Push Up

19. Chaturanga

Target: Biceps brachii, anterior delts, pectoralis major, triceps brachii, trapezius, core

The Four-Limbed Staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) is a very important and physically demanding yoga sequence.

Beginners can try to put their knees on the floor if the full pose is too challenging.

Your core stability will benefit from Chaturanga, as well as many other upper and lower body muscles. If you practice yoga, pay attention to breathing and other principles of it.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Get to the classic plank position or prone position.
  2. 2
    Put your hands on the floor and elbows under your shoulders at a 90-degree angle.
  3. 3
    Start to lower yourself until your elbows are at the same height as your sides.
  4. 4
    Now your chest, shoulders, upper arms, and elbows should be in alignment.
  5. 5
    Push back to return to the plank position.
Chaturanga

20. Monkey Bars

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, delts, latissimus dorsi, core

You can find monkey bars at almost every playground. That's why we all used them as children, and we didn't even know that we were strengthening the entire upper body that way.

Now, as an adult, you can go back to the playground since you can do bodyweight workouts there.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Hang from the monkey bars with both hands, either overhand or underhand grip.
  2. 2
    Reach with one hand to the next bar and then follow with the other hand.
  3. 3
    Squeeze the biceps tightly to trigger muscle growth.
  4. 4
    Go through the entire ladder.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: You can also move laterally.
Monkey Bars

Ideal Rep Ranges Explained

You can successfully stimulate biceps in different rep ranges when using weights.

However, the low-rep range is not suitable for most bodyweight exercises and thus for training biceps because you cannot expose the muscles to enough stress to cause adaptation.

That's why you should aim for a moderate to the high-rep range and try to be close to failure every time.

In this case, I recommend to my clients 12 to 20 repetitions per set, sometimes even more than 20.

Of course, the number of sets depends on the exerciser, fatigue, and goal, but in general, strive for 3 to 5 sets.


How To Create A Bodyweight Bicep Exercise Plan

I can't make you an individual workout routine, but I can help you do it yourself.

It is up to you to decide whether you will have a day dedicated only to the biceps or combine it with another muscle group which is a better option for most people.

Do cardio and basic exercises as well as active stretching for warm-up. Then, depending on your level, choose several exercises that we’ve talked about.

Three exercises will be enough for beginners, while advanced exercisers can choose at least 5.

We have mentioned an ideal number of sets and reps in the previous paragraph, but there are a few more things you can do to improve your workout.

  • Eccentric training is equally important as concentric training, so try negative reps.[1]
  • Go through a full range of motion.
  • Squeeze the biceps at the top of the movement.

Common Bodyweight Bicep Exercises Questions

Should I train my biceps every day?

No, you should not train biceps more than two times a week. It's a small muscle consisting of a short and long head that takes 48 to 72 hours to recover.

Do biceps respond better to high or lower reps?

Biceps respond well to both low and high reps, but intermediate reps are optimal for stronger arms and to build muscle.

How long does it take for biceps to grow?

Each person is unique, so there is no universal answer. Biceps usually need at least 2 months to grow, but building muscle can be accelerated with proper nutrition and regular training.

Should I train my triceps on the same day as my biceps?

You can train triceps on the same day as part of an arm workout since there are many bicep and tricep exercises.

You can also train the biceps together with the back and the triceps together with the chest.

Why does back and bicep training go together?

Because both muscle groups are responsible for the pulling motion, and then it is impossible to eliminate the biceps during the back workout.


Conclusion

Your arms cannot look muscular if your biceps are not well-developed. Strong biceps are also necessary to maximize your fitness potential.

The above bodyweight moves will definitely help you on your fitness journey, and our advice is to try them all until you find the ones that activate your muscle fibers the best.

References: 

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5495834/

Filip Maric

Last Updated on November 10, 2022