7 Best Calisthenics Bicep Workouts (No Weights Required)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 24, 2023
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Big biceps are paramount, and everyone looks to grow them.

As a certified fitness trainer, I've had clients and readers asking if building bigger biceps using calisthenics is possible.

I took my time to research the anatomy of the biceps and worked with a few colleagues to come up with the best calisthenics biceps exercises.

In this article, I will provide everything you need to know about the biceps and a guide on how to grow big biceps with calisthenics.

Quick Summary

  • Developing biceps is typically linked with using weights, but a calisthenics bicep exercise may be just as effective.
  • Calisthenics can help you grow your biceps by focusing on the appropriate activities and practicing them correctly.
  • The biceps are constantly engaged in the motions of pulling workouts (such as pull-ups) and skill (such as muscle-ups).

The Best Calisthenics Bicep Workouts

A person doing pushups at home

1. Pull-ups

"Mastering this exercise is a worthwhile challenge regardless of your fitness objectives. It's an essential gym-building block workout that benefits bodybuilders, CrossFitters, and overall fitness enthusiasts alike."

- Andrew Heffernan, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

In addition to developing your back, shoulders, and chest, pull-ups are among the best biceps-building workouts you can perform using minimum equipment.

If you cannot access quality pull-up bars, you may use your creativity and connect a set of gymnastics rings to a part of playground equipment, a tree branch, or a soccer goal.

How to perform:

  1. Let your body hang from the bar with your hands around shoulder-width apart, palms facing outward, and your arms straight (ideally having both feet off the floor).
  2. Pull yourself up slowly, maintaining your body from swinging back and forth until the chin exceeds the level of the bar.
  3. Lower yourself while maintaining the same level of tension.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

2. Reverse Grip Push-up

By positioning your arms in reserve and leaning forward, this push-up trains the biceps in two ways: The biceps have to function to stabilize the elbow joint once your elbow is in a supinated stance under load.

They are also exercised because the forward lean induces shoulder flexion through an isometric contraction.

To execute this exercise correctly, you must begin in the correct position.

It will not work if you do not have the correct form.

How to perform:

  1. Put your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, fingers pointing backward.
  2. Adopt a push-up position with your core taut, glutes engaged, and spine neutral.
  3. Lean forward until your shoulders are directly in front of your arms. That's the only way to get your biceps to contract.
  4. Do a push-up from here, ensuring that your elbows are tight to your body.
  5. It is critical to keep a forward lean during this workout.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

3. Chin-up

A person doing a chin up

Some individuals get chin-ups and pull-ups mixed up since they use the same gear and have a similar range of motion.

Chin-up requires shoulder extensions and an underhanded grip, whereas pull-ups demand shoulder abductions and an overhand grip.

Chin-ups also target your biceps more than pull-ups, which may explain why you can perform more chin-ups than pull-ups.

Chin-ups, like pull-ups, can be performed on any bar or supporting beam, at a gym, at home, or in the park.

How to perform:

  1. Hold the bar shoulder-width apart, hands facing outward like you would for a pull-up.
  2. Lift your body higher towards the bar, keeping your core engaged until your chin is higher than the bar and your elbows are completely bent.
  3. Drop yourself back down with steady movement until your hands are straight again.
  4. Repeat for reps.

4. One-Arm Chin-up Negatives

Regular chin-ups are an excellent bicep exercise.

However, one of the best bodyweight bicep exercises is the one-arm chin-up, which targets the biceps muscles using an underhand grip and opposite arm assistance. During this challenging calisthenics exercise, you slowly lower your body weight while engaging your entire body and maintaining proper shoulder blade positioning. Remember to focus on each repetition and alternate between arms for a well-rounded bicep workout in your calisthenics workout program.

On the other hand, one-arm chin-up negatives severely strain the biceps.

There are several ways to scale it based on your level of fitness.

To make this exercise simpler, don't completely straighten the non-working elbow.

The more bent the elbow, the more support the working arm may receive.

How to perform: 

  1. Use a bench or chair to get to the top chin-up stance (hands facing you - supinated).
  2. Move one hand as far to the side as possible while still hanging on to the bar.
  3. Engage your core and gradually lower yourself down from here.
  4. Keep the elbow near your body and move slowly.
  5. Concentrate on the bicep mind-muscle connection as you drop.
  6. Employ a full range of motion, then extend the elbow to the bottom.
  7. Return to the starting position and perform with the other hand.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

5. Commando Pull-up

A person doing a commando pull up

Commando pull-ups are a great workout that emphasizes elbow and shoulder flexion.

How to perform:

  1. With a neutral grip, grab the pull-up bar (stand perpendicular to the bar with both palms facing each other).
  2. Experiment with the spacing between your arms to determine what feels comfortable (the closer you are, the better).
  3. To begin, flex the elbows and lift your torso toward the bar.
  4. Bring the head to one side of the pull-up bar and contact the bar with your trap muscle.
  5. Slowly drop yourself back to your starting position.
  6. Bring the head to the other side of the pull-up bar on the following repetition.
  7. Perform this exercise for reps, concentrating on completing the eccentric slowly.

6. Horizontal Bodyweight Ring Curls

Ring bicep curls are one of the best bodyweight bicep exercises.

You’ll use the rings to isolate the biceps.

They are also referred to as upside-down curls.

You may use the rings to develop both elbow flexion and supination.

How to perform:

  1. Align yourself horizontally underneath the rings and use a neutral grip to grab them (palms facing each other).
  2. On the ring handles, your arms should be shoulder-width apart.
  3. Maintain a straight spine, a firm core, and engage glutes.
  4. Kneel and maintain your legs flat on the ground.
  5. Your body should ideally be in a straight line, with your knees at a 90-degree angle.
  6. Curl both your arms and bring the forehead towards the rings.
  7. Rotate both hands to the top so that they are supinated.
  8. Keep your elbows tight to your body and your hips from sagging.
  9. At the top, pause and feel the bicep peak contraction.
  10. Lower the eccentric gradually and return to the starting position.
  11. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

7. Resistance Bands Biceps Curl

A person doing a resistance band bicep curl

You must acquire resistance bands if you don't have rings or a bar.

You can perform many bicep curl exercises with bands just as you would with dumbbell curls.

Remember to concentrate on the time under tension and mind-muscle connection.

Curls with dumbbells allow you to use higher weights, whereas bicep curls with resistance bands enable you to maintain tension throughout the workout.

Resistance band curls should be a regular part of your workout routine, whether you utilize a dual handle band or a single solid strap.

Progression and changes include preacher curls, reverse biceps curls, seated hammer curls, and concentration curls.

How to perform:

  1. Standing in a neutral posture on the band, hold the handle or end of the resistance band in each hand and begin with both hands straight down, palms facing front.
  2. Remember not to lock the elbows to your sides, as with dumbbell curls.
  3. You may do double or single-arm curls like with dumbbells, but don't let the resistance band snap back eccentrically.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Anatomy of the Biceps

A person flexing his bicep close to the camera

The biceps brachii, or biceps, is a big, thick muscle located on the ventral side of the upper arms.

The muscle has two heads: a short and a long head.

The biceps brachii long head is positioned on the lateral side, whereas the short head is on the medial edge [1].

The biceps brachii acts across three joints, producing motions in the glenohumeral, radio-ulnar, and elbow joints.

The muscle has two heads: the short and long head.

  • The short head develops from the tip of the scapula's coracoid process [2].
  • The long head derives from the scapula's supraglenoid tubercle.

Both heads run distally and form a muscular belly before tapering over the anterior portion of the elbow and inserting into the radial tuberosity and forearm fascia through the bicipital aponeurosis [3].

The biceps' primary functions are forearm flexion and supination (external rotation).

This is aided partly by the muscle's 90-degree rotation as it attaches to the radius.

While the biceps muscle is the most visible upper arm muscle, its primary role is to help and support the deeper brachialis muscle when raising or lowering the forearm [4].

The brachialis is the strongest elbow flexor without supination; nevertheless, it loses mechanical momentum with supination and elbow flexion [5].

The bicep brachii plays a minor role in shoulder flexion.

The biceps long head is supposed to improve the dynamic stability of the shoulder joint, however, only during the first 30 degrees of elevation [6].

This role is essential in allowing people to bear big weights while the arm is stretched downward.

Tips for Calisthenics Biceps Workouts

A person doing calisthenics workouts for biceps

Proper Warm-up

Overloading a specific muscle area, especially one as tiny as the biceps, can be harmful if the loading is not appropriate for the ability level or if correct arm warm-ups are not performed before the calisthenics bicep exercise.

And by proper, we mean exercises that prepare you for impending motion.

Although aerobic activity can help you elevate your heart rate to perform better, it will not suffice as a warm-up for our purposes.

Pull-apart and regular push-ups can be added to the warm-ups.

Avoid Overtraining

Even when compared to the triceps, the biceps is a modest muscular group.

That is why the triceps have more significant growth potential, and many individuals are stronger with pushing actions than pulling motions.

In this sense, the biceps may only be engaged to a certain extent before being overworked.

Because of the biceps' roles, training other upper body movements may also activate the biceps, so be cautious.

Regarding bicep growth, strive for two weekly sessions, three if you're advanced enough.

You may employ the calisthenics bicep workout mentioned above and these best pre-workout supplements to provide the energy, pump, and concentration needed to finish the sets.

Full Range of Motion

A person doing calisthenics at home

Incorporating bodyweight bicep exercises in your calisthenics bicep workout is a great way to target your biceps without the need for weights. Exercises such as chin-ups, performed with a shoulder-width grip, are effective calisthenics bicep exercises that can help you build strength and muscle in your arms.

In calisthenics exercises, a complete range of motion is essential for obtaining the appropriate muscle activation.

If you restrict your range of motion, the workout will be less effective and may eventually result in injury or poor alignment.

Concentrating on some key points makes achieving a complete range of motion simple:

  • Beginning from a good place with a good form.
  • Using the targeted muscle group to reach the goal.
  • Regressing to a variation appropriate for your skillset.

These three actions can increase the efficiency and efficacy of any task that requires more than simply biceps training, such as lunging, pushing, overhead pressing, and pulling.

Mind-Muscle Connection

"The mere act of intentionally feeling a muscle function through its complete range of motion, known as "attentional concentration" (or, more commonly, the "mind-muscle connection"), can improve muscle fiber activation and recruitment."

- Trevor Thieme, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

The mind-muscle connection describes how a person's mental attention on the target muscle(s) may help them grow physical strength and muscle.

As a result, it is frequently seen as one aspect of several disciplines of performance enhancement, such as bodybuilding and weightlifting, athletic training, and any other activity in which muscle control is essential.

Maintaining a mind-muscle connection can assist you in enhancing bicep growth with bodyweight exercises for your intended purpose.

This entails concentrating on bicep activation during exercise.


Can You Grow Biceps With Calisthenics?

Yes, you can use a calisthenics bicep workout to grow your biceps. You have to focus on the correct exercises and perform them with the right form. You should mix and match a range of pulling exercises to achieve optimum results.

Including calisthenics biceps exercises in your bicep workout can be highly effective, and exercises like push-ups and chin-ups are excellent choices for targeting the biceps using bodyweight. These exercises are among the best calisthenics exercises for building strong and defined biceps without the need for weights.

What Calisthenics Give You Bigger Arms?

The calisthenics that gives you bigger arms is the push-ups, dips, pull-ups, and bodyweight rows.

Do Biceps Grow With High Reps?

Yes, biceps grow with high reps. The biceps should be exercised with rep ranges ranging from 5 to 20 repetitions to enhance strength, muscular growth, and general muscle development.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5505302/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2878700/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519538/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17229281/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551630/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5505302/
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