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The Ultimate No Equipment Bicep Workout

7 Exercises To Boost Arm Size At Home

Having strong biceps muscles will not only help you feel good about your physique and boost your performance in the gym with weightlifting exercises like chin-ups and rows but will also make everyday activities such as lifting your kids or groceries much easier.

Although most biceps exercises involve biceps curls with either dumbbells, barbells, cables, or resistance bands, it is possible to do biceps workouts without weights.

Bicep workouts without weights are particularly helpful for people who want to train at home and don’t have access to strength training equipment.

While there are some limitations to bicep exercises without weights, we have put together one of the best no equipment bicep workouts for you to try out during your next home workout.

A person flexes their bicep muscle.

No Equipment Biceps Workout to Strengthen Your Arms

Here are some of the best bicep exercises without weights for your workout routine to get bigger biceps:

#1: Biceps Push-Ups

Traditional push-ups and even diamond push-ups are upper body exercises that primarily target the pectoralis major and minor muscles in the chest and the triceps in the back of your upper arm while simultaneously working your lats and core.

However, you can modify the regular push-up by turning your hands around, which targets your biceps much more than your triceps. The move can initially feel awkward, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the best biceps exercises without weights.

Here are the steps for performing biceps push-ups:

  1. Get in a standard push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Don’t allow your hips to sag down. 
  2. Turn your hands by rotating your wrists to the outside so that your fingertips point as directly as possible toward your feet. Depending on your wrist mobility, there might be some amount of angle remaining.
  3. Perform a push-up as you normally would, bending your elbows to lower your chest towards the floor with a full range of motion, hovering just above the ground before pressing through the palms of your hands to return to the starting position.
  4. Make sure to keep your core and glutes tight and that your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Try to think about squeezing your biceps during the movement to target this muscle group.

#2: Door Frame Body Weight Curls

This is a great bodyweight exercise for biceps workouts without weights. Make sure you are grabbing the actual frame, not a door knob or door.

Here are the steps:

  1. Place your feet on either side of a door frame, bringing your body as close as possible to the door frame. 
  2. Keep your hips squarely facing the door frame and keep your core tight throughout the movement so your hips remain in this position.
  3. Gripping the frame with only your right hand, lean your whole body back like a stiff board until your arm is fully extended.
  4. Use your biceps to pull your body back up.
  5. Complete as many reps as possible and then switch arms. 

#3: Negative Biceps Curls With Milk Gallons

When you are doing biceps workouts without weights, you often have to get a little creative.

Although you might be working out at home where you don’t have any regular dumbbells or even resistance bands, you can use weighted implements around the house to increase the intensity of your biceps training exercises.

Some great options are gallon water or milk jugs that are filled or a loaded backpack or purse with heavy books inside with some sort of strap or handle that you can hold onto.

The key to maximizing your gains in no equipment bicep workouts is to focus most on the eccentric portion of the biceps curl exercise.

Studies have found1Hedayatpour, N., & Falla, D. (2015). Physiological and Neural Adaptations to Eccentric Exercise: Mechanisms and Considerations for Training. BioMed Research International2015, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/193741 that eccentric training, which is the lowering portion of a rep, yields the greatest gains in strength and hypertrophy.

Therefore, when do these “negative biceps curls,“ you want to go as slowly as possible on the portion of the movement from your shoulders back down to the extended arm position with your elbows straight.

Here is how to do biceps curls without weights to boost muscle size and strength:

  1. Sit down at the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Sitting will help remove the likelihood of unintentionally “cheating” in the exercise by using momentum or popping your hips forward to help curl the weighted object.
  2. Grab a gallon jug of water or milk in each hand; if you only have one, you can perform the exercise unilaterally. You can also use a heavy plastic grocery bag filled with dried beans or canned goods.
  3. Contract your biceps to lift the weight up to your shoulder, squeezing your bicep at the top as if you are flexing to show off your muscles.
  4. As slowly as possible, lower the weighted object back down to the starting position. Aim to take at least 10 seconds on the eccentric portion of the exercise.

#4: Bilateral Negative Curls 

For this biceps exercise without weights, you will perform a similar, extremely slow negative curl using a weighted object, but this time, the exercise will be bilateral.

Use a sturdy belt or rolled-up bath towel (rolled the long way) to make your “barbell.” For the “weight,” use a heavy backpack loaded with books, bottles of water, cans of soup, bags of flour or beans, etc.

The fact that the backpack will likely be swinging and swaying as you curl makes the exercise even more challenging and requires excellent grip strength. 

This will further recruit your brachioradialis and forearm muscles, as well as the biceps brachialis, a muscle under the lateral portion of your biceps.

Here is how to do this exercise in your no equipment arm workout:

  1. Fill your backpack with heavy objects and then loop a belt or rolled-up towel through the straps so the backpack hangs in the middle. Hold each end of the belt or towel in your hand and then curl the bag up until your hands reach shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top.
  2. Slowly lower your arms by extending your elbows, trying to count to at least 10 as you lower back down.

#5: Isometric Biceps Curls

Isometric exercises are those that involve muscle contraction without any resultant movement. For example, a side plank is an isometric exercise.

Even though your muscles are not generating movement at the joint, isometric exercises still place your muscles under tension. This, in turn, can strengthen your muscles.

This no equipment biceps exercise only requires a belt, rope, or bed sheet.

  1. Step on the center of the belt, or if you are using a bed sheet, roll it up so it is a long roll and step onto the center point. 
  2. Hold each end in one of your hands, then curl it upward as far as possible until the belt or sheet is completely taut. Ideally, this will be when your elbows are at approximately 90 degrees. If your bed sheet is too long, widen your stance so that more material is taken up under your feet before coming upward towards your shoulders, or wrap extra slack around your hands.
  3. Hold the top position for as long as possible, pulling as hard and forcefully as possible until your biceps are quaking and you can’t handle it any longer. Start with 20 or 30 seconds and work up to several minutes as your strength increases. Remember that you should be pulling with maximal force.
  4. Once you can no longer sustain the contraction, gently release.

#6: Inverted Rows

A table row.

The inverted row is one of the best bodyweight biceps exercises.

You will also target your lats (back muscles) and core. Assuming you do not have TRX suspension straps, you will need to get a little creative with how you can perform inverted rows in a biceps workout without equipment.

One thing that tends to work well is using a sturdy table. You can also use a rope or bedsheet secured behind the top of a door with a hefty knot, depending on your body weight. The latter option will basically replicate suspension straps.

Here is how to perform suspended bodyweight rows with a sturdy table:

  1. Sit on the floor under the table with one hand holding either side of the table.
  2. Pop up so that your body is in a stiff board or plank position with your weight on your heels and your hips in line with your body from your heels to the top of your head.
  3. Contract your biceps, core, and lats to lift your body up until your chest raises the underside of the table. Squeeze your shoulder blades in your upper back together and your biceps in the top position.
  4. Reverse the movement and slowly lower your body back down, again trying to extend that lowering portion of the exercise as long as possible.
  5. Remember to complete your reps to failure.

#7: Chin-Ups

A person doing a chin up.

There’s a good chance that if you’re looking for no equipment biceps workouts you don’t have an actual pull-up bar.

If you do, chin-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do.

If you don’t have a real pull-up bar, you can work on your finger/grip strength by doing chin-ups in a door frame and gripping your fingers on the overhang of the door frame. Alternatively, you can use the limb of a tree or rafters in your garage (if they are sturdy).

Here are the steps to perform a chin-up:

  1. Grab the bar or rafter with a shoulder-width grip with your palms facing your face.
  2. Hang from the bar, raising your feet off the ground by bending your knees.
  3. Pull yourself up by engaging your core, lats, and biceps while you bend your elbows.
  4. Raise your body until your chin clears the top of the bar.
  5. Slowly lower your body back down and repeat.

There you have it! Seven no equipment bicep workout exercises ready to go to start to boost that arm size!

Can You Strengthen Your Biceps Without Weights?

It can be hard to figure out how to create a biceps workout without weights.

However, as a certified personal trainer, I always tell my clients that with a little creativity and commitment to getting in a few extra reps of each exercise, you can maintain your gains in the gym with biceps bodyweight workouts.

The most important tip for doing no equipment bicep workouts is to complete each of the arm exercises to failure, especially if you are trying to trigger muscle growth to build biceps mass.

Beginners can start with two sets of every exercise but work up to three sets of every exercise to failure.

This will help maximize the training stimulus in your no-equipment bicep workouts.

That said, while working without weights isn’t going to be the best approach for bodybuilding or significant muscle growth.

If you want to learn more about how to build muscle fast, read our muscle building guide here.

A person doing a bicep curl.

References

  • 1
    Hedayatpour, N., & Falla, D. (2015). Physiological and Neural Adaptations to Eccentric Exercise: Mechanisms and Considerations for Training. BioMed Research International2015, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/193741
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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