Without tons of equipment or weights, it can be hard to isolate your biceps properly. However, it is still possible to get a great workout for your biceps using just your own body weight and limited equipment,
In this guide, we will go over an ideal calisthenics bicep workout and discuss some other exercises you can do for additional strength and size on your arms.
Can You Build Biceps With Calisthenics?
Of course, it is possible to build great arms with just calisthenics. In fact, gymnasts and calisthenic athletes have some of the most impressive bicep development in the world thanks to their training style.
This should really come as a surprise as at the end of the day, resistance is resistance whether it comes in the form of weights or your own body weight. You just have to pick the right exercises and use the proper form. With enough consistency, you will see great gains in your arms.
Calisthenics Bicep Workout: Exercises by Exercise
As with most calisthenics movements, it will be hard to isolate only one muscle as most movements require multiple muscle groups to be done properly. That being said, this workout selects the exercises that put the most load on the biceps:
Commando Pull Ups
The first exercise is commando pull-ups. Unlike regular pull-ups, these are done with your hands right next to each other and have you perpendicular to the bar. The closer grip will really help to focus the load on your arms. If these are too hard for you, consider using a box or jumping up so you can at least perform the eccentric portion.
3 x 8-10 reps
How To Do Commando Pull Ups
Grap the pull-up bar with a neutral grip. Have your hands as close as possible while still being comfortable.
Pull yourself up by allowing flexion in your elbows. Unlike regular pull-ups, you want to do your best to transfer the load to your arms.
As you pull up, move your head to one side to avoid hitting your head with the bar.
Lower yourself back down slowly.
Repeat for reps, but make sure to alternate the side of the bar that you bring your head to.
One Arm Negative Pull Ups
In terms of isolation, you cannot do much better in terms of pull-ups for your biceps than the one-variation. If you are strong enough to do full one-arm pull-ups, feel free to just do those instead. However, most people would be fine only doing the negatives as it still puts a lot of load on your biceps.
3 x 8-10 reps
How To Do One-Arm Negative Pull-Ups:
Use a chair or bench so that you can easily get into the top position of a pull-up.
Once at the top, use one hand to take a supinated grip on the bar.
Now, lower yourself down as slowly as you can.
If this is too challenging for you, you can use your arm, to grip the bar with a few fingers.
Repeat for reps then switch arms.
Bodyweight Ring Curls
For bicep isolation, one of the best tools to use is gymnastic rings. You can also make these easier by adjusting the positioning of your feet and back. Since the previous two exercises were quite challenging, we will use this exercise to get more volume.
3 x 15-20 reps
How To Do Bodyweight Ring Curls
Position your rings so that they are around shoulder width apart. Grip the rings.
Walk your legs forward and allow your back to lean back until your torso is parallel to the ground.
Starting with arms fully extended, curl yourself up bending your elbows and contracting your biceps.
At the top of the rep, make sure to squeeze your biceps before slowly lowering yourself back down again.
Repeat for reps.
Reverse Grip Push Ups
Most people do not realize that the push-up can be manipulated into an exercise that works your biceps as well. By taking a reverse grip and leaning forward, you stretch your biceps at the bottom of the rep and force shoulder flexion as well. Just give them a try and I guarantee that you will feel it in your biceps.
3 x 8 – 10 reps
How To Do Reverse Grip Push Ups
Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart with your fingers pointing backward.
Like a regular push-up, keep your spine neutral and core as tight as possible.
To put more load on your biceps, be sure to lean forward so that your shoulders are in front of your hands.
Slowly lower yourself down while making sure that you keep your elbows tucked next to your body.
Push up as if you were doing a regular push-up.
The Full Calisthenics Bicep Workout
Putting it all together, here is the full calisthenic bicep workout plan. You will need some basic calisthenics equipment for most of these exercises. For most people, you would be well off running this once per week. You could also mix and match some of these exercises on your back day so you have a type of “pull” day.
Commando pull-ups: 3 x 8-10 reps
One arm negative pull-ups: 3 x 8-10 reps
Bodyweight ring curls: 3 x 15-20 reps
Reverse grip push-ups: 3 x 8-10 reps
Other Calisthenic Bicep Exercises
While the exercises included in the workout provide the most isolation, there are plenty of other exercises you can do as well that will target your biceps as well. Here are a few that you could also try:
One-handed wall pulls
Resistance band bicep curls
If you truly want to take your arms to the next level, you have to be doing some kind of isolation work to get the most out of that muscle. This can be a hard thing to do for your biceps through bodyweight training but it is possible.
As long you follow the tutorials and stay consistent with your workouts, you will see large gains in your biceps.
What calisthenic workouts work the biceps?
Any exercises that involve below flexion and bringing your arms towards you will result in some bicep activation. For the most isolation, here are the exercises that really work your biceps:
Bodyweight ring curls
Reverse grip push-ups
Do pushups work biceps?
Yes, pushups will your biceps to some degree. However, how much will depend on the variation. Reverse grip push-ups will work your biceps the most.