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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to go to the gym to get gains. Hell, you don’t even need dumbbells, because it turns out bodyweight biceps exercises are just as effective. Plus, they’re totally free and super accessible so you can practice them at home and on the go.
Add the following moves to your routine to blast your biceps and up your game.
1. Inverted Row
Do pull-ups seem impossible? Whether you struggle to do one or can’t complete three sets of 10 without sacrificing form, try the inverted row. This exercise is perfect for beginners because it puts your body in a horizontal position, making it easier to perform. In addition to blasting your biceps, the inverted row also improves scapular retraction, which is critical for vertical pull-ups.
Look for a railing or bar in your home that can hold your weight and is about waist high. Lie down beneath the bar, reach up ang grab hold. Your arms should extend fully and your back should hover just above the floor, with nothing but your heels touching the ground. Keep your body in a straight line as you pull your chest up towards the bar. Pause for a second to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Then slowly lower yourself back down.
2. Suspension Trainer Bicep Curl
Bicep curls are one of the best ways to pump up your arms, but not everyone has access to dumbells. Luckily, suspension trainer bicep curls are just as effective and they don’t require any special equipment. Sure, TRX bands or a similar suspension system would be more convenient, but you can just as easily use a railing or hook two pieces of rope over a door instead.
Hold the bar, ropes or rings with your arms bent and your palms facing the ceiling. Lean back on your heels until your body is at a 45° angle. Then, slowly straighten your arms. Pull yourself back up by bending your elbows and drawing your fists towards your shoulders. Sprinkle a few sets of these curls into your regular routine, and see results in no time.
3. Mountain Climbers
You don’t need a mountain — or even a stair climber — to try this full-body exercise. All you need is a few feet of space and the drive to succeed. Oh, and maybe a towel to wipe your face, because you’re about to sweat buckets.
As leg-heavy as they might sound, mountain climbers are also great for targetting the delts, biceps, triceps, chest, core and hips. Feel the burn by assuming a high plank position. Keep your arms straight and draw one knee in towards your chest. Then quickly swap feet, almost as if you’re doing high knees. Press the floor away from you as you pump your legs to really blast your biceps.
Whether you’re a hard-core gym rat or an absolute beginner, you likely know how to do a push-up — at least in theory. The truth is, this move is insanely difficult to do, especially if you’re more focused on speed than technique. Plus, there are dozens of different variations which can be confusing or helpful depending on your skill level.
Keep things simple and really hone in on your biceps with a classic variation. Position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and step your feet back so they’re hip-width apart. Contract your abs, bend your elbows and lower your body until your biceps are parallel to the floor. Contract your chest muscles and press through the palms to return to the start position. Pump out as many as you can without sacrificing good form.
5. Chin-ups and Pull-ups
Hit the lats and biceps with a few sets of chin-ups or pull-ups. These movements are very similar but require different hand positions. While chin-ups require an underhand grip, pull-ups call for an overhand approach. You might also widen the distance between your hands when practicing pull-ups whereas it’s more natural to keep your hands about shoulder-width apart for chin-ups. Each variation works different muscles in the back, chest and arms.
Use a door frame pull-up bar, a sturdy ceiling beam or a tree limb and assume the correct hand position. Bend your knees and cross your ankles so that you’re suspended above the floor with straight arms. Bend your elbows and hoist yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Maintain some distance and hold at the top to keep the focus more on the biceps.
Focus on Form
Don’t underestimate the power of a good bodyweight routine. These bodyweight biceps exercises are harder than they look, and are sure to pump up your arms in no time. That said, it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity.
Instead of busting out five sets of 15, take it slow and try three sets of 10 or 12. Increase your time under tension and really feel the burn. Regardless of how much you weigh or how strong you are, focusing on form will prevent injury and promote conscious muscle engagement so you get — and keep — some serious gains.