8 Best Bodyweight Bicep Exercises (No Weights Needed)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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As a certified personal trainer, I know that the upper arms are probably going to be the one area of the upper body that most fitness enthusiasts get to show off the most.

And while free weights are one of the best ways to do highly targeted biceps training, many of us often underestimate how effective bodyweight exercises are. They can help you build up your arms, but the push-up exercises will focus more on your triceps than your biceps.

But before you just start doing some random work on a pull-up bar, let me show you the best bodyweight exercises our team has come up with. These are the ones we recommend to our clients.

Quick Summary

  • To build biceps without weights, incorporate bodyweight exercises like inverted rows and chin-ups into your routine.
  • These exercises utilize simple equipment like pull-up bars and household items, making them accessible for home workouts.
  • A study from the PubMed information website shows that exercises like inverted rows activate key upper body muscles, enhancing bicep and back strength.
  • Personally, I find bodyweight exercises not only convenient but also highly effective for consistent muscle growth and toning.

Our Top Bodyweight Biceps Exercises

man in an intense work out

You should be able to add these routines to your bicep workout in many different ways with little more than a pull-up bar and other household items.

1. Inverted Row

Inverted Row

When I first tried the inverted row, I was amazed at its effectiveness. Aim for 3 sets of 20 reps, and you'll start feeling the difference in your biceps and upper back strength.

The inverted row is a great exercise for anyone who can’t quite do a full pull-up. A study found on the PubMed website that compared different rowing exercises found that the inverted row elicited the highest activation of the latissimus dorsi muscles, upper back, and hip extensor muscles [1].

You’ll need a sturdy bar and set it up about waist high in between two couches or other sturdy pieces of furniture. Get to the starting position by hanging off the bar with your body straight and heels on the ground, hands gripping onto the bar firmly.

Pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar and feel how your shoulder blades will pull together. From here, return to the starting position. Repeat.

2. Chin-Ups


Chin-ups have been a staple in my bodyweight routine for years. I recommend starting with 3 sets of 20 reps, and if you're struggling initially, using a chair for support can really help.

Grip onto the bar with both hands a bit less than shoulder-width apart and palms facing towards you. Start the chin-ups by pulling yourself up until your chin is above the bar and then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.

You can also get down to the push-up position and work your way towards the stronger arms first. Another study on the PubMed website found that pull-ups and chin-ups were initiated by the lower trapezius and pectoralis major and completed with biceps brachii and latissimus dorsi recruitment [2].

3. Towel Chin-Up

Towel Pull-Ups

I remember transitioning to towel chin-ups as a way to intensify my workouts. They require more grip strength, so start with 3 sets of 12 reps and increase as you get stronger.

For this bodyweight biceps workout, you’ll need a considerable amount of strength built up in your arms. I’ve found that you’d probably need to be able to complete at least 15 regular chin-ups to take it to this next stage.

Get a bath towel and throw it over the pullup bar, and slightly twist it to make it easier to grip onto with your hands.

Grab hold of one end in each hand, let yourself hang, and perform a standard chin-up move.

Don’t expect to do as many as regular pull-ups.

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4. Commando Pull-Up

Commando Pull-Up

In my experience, commando pull-ups are a game-changer for bicep engagement compared to regular pull-ups. This variation really targets the biceps more intensely.

What you need to do for this bodyweight biceps routine is to grip the bar with both hands from opposite sides. As you’re hanging there, you’ll be looking down the length of the bar rather than straight at it.

Start the movement by flexing both arms and focusing on your biceps to bring on more pumps.

“There’s nothing better than feeling your shirtsleeves stretch after a hard workout. Arnold Schwarzenegger once commented that the sensation was even better than sex. But the benefits of getting all pumped-up go beyond mere vanity—research suggests that the process can also hit the accelerator on muscle growth.”

- Trevor Thieme, Strength coach and writer at Menshealth.com.

As your head approaches the bar, shift your head position to the right and keep pulling up until your shoulder reaches the bar.

Slowly release back down to change the position and repeat the movement to the left side.

5. Isometric Chin-Up

isometric chin-up

Here’s another one of the bodyweight moves that I think everyone should do to trigger their biceps.

Grab onto the bar firmly with your hands, like you would for a regular chin-up with your palms facing you. Pull yourself up until your head and chin are above the bar.

This is where you want to hold the position with your arms fully engaged for as long as possible.

As soon as you notice your head dipping, lower yourself down again to the starting position.

6. Headbanger


This is an advanced exercise, and you’ll need to be strong enough to complete at least 10 regular chin-ups.

For this one, set yourself up by holding onto the bar with palms facing you and about shoulder-width apart.

Pull yourself up until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle with your biceps fully engaged.

From here, pull your body and head towards the bar without increasing the height you’re at.

It’s almost like you’re banging your head against the bar, which explains the name of the exercise.

A bonus information: just make sure you don’t get too enthusiastic; I’ve seen one or two bruises caused by these moves.

7. Resistance Band Biceps Curl

Resistance Band Biceps Cur

Another great way to work your biceps without a set of free weights or pull-up bar is to turn to a resistance band set.

Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and the exercise band running under your feet.

Your arms should be straight down next to your body while holding onto the handles of the band in both hands.

Check that there’s already a bit of tension on the band before you start the curl, as you want to engage your biceps right from the start.


8. TRX Band Biceps Curl

TRX Band Biceps Curl

Our final bodyweight bicep recommendation requires a set of TRX or suspension bands.

Secure the bands to a wall in front of you, ideally at quite a high point to give you more of an angle on the straps.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the handles in front of your chest.

Slowly let yourself lean back until your arms are in a straight line with the bands, holding that position.

Keep your body perfectly straight and allow your biceps to do all the work by curling up while bringing you back to a standing position.

It’s one of those bodyweight workouts where the more you lean back, the tougher it gets.

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How Can Bodyweight Bicep Exercises Be Integrated into a Full-Body Workout Routine?

Bodyweight bicep exercises can be seamlessly integrated into a full-body workout by alternating them with lower-body and core exercises. This approach ensures balanced muscle development and prevents overtraining of a single muscle group.

What Are Effective Progression Strategies for Bodyweight Bicep Exercises?

To progress in bodyweight bicep exercises, start with basic movements and gradually increase the intensity by adding more repetitions and sets or incorporating variations like isometric holds. Consistently challenging the muscles is key to continuous improvement and strength gains.

How Does Nutrition Enhance the Effectiveness of Bodyweight Bicep Exercises?

Proper nutrition, especially adequate protein intake, is crucial for muscle repair and growth following bodyweight bicep exercises. A balanced diet rich in nutrients supports overall fitness goals and enhances the effectiveness of your workout regimen.

How Do Bodyweight Bicep Exercises Compare to Weighted Exercises?

Bodyweight bicep exercises are convenient and can be done anywhere, focusing on endurance and muscle tone, while weighted exercises are better for building muscle mass and strength. Both have unique benefits and incorporating a mix of both can lead to optimal results.

What Are Some Injury Prevention and Safety Tips for Bodyweight Bicep Exercises?

To prevent injuries during bodyweight bicep exercises, always warm up properly and focus on maintaining correct form throughout each movement. Avoid overexertion and listen to your body, ensuring that exercises are performed in a controlled manner.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19197209/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21068680/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
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Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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