Which Bodyweight Bicep Exercises Really Work?

Which Bodyweight Bicep Exercises Really Work?

While many great upper-body exercises involve equipment like barbells and dumbbells, arm exercises without weights are a solid way to put your muscles to the test, too. After all, the sheer weight of your body is equipment in its own right -- you can use it to load your arm muscles and make them work. And the best part? There’s no heavy lifting required, and a gym membership to your local fitness center is totally optional. 

Now, to be clear, it’s tough to work all of the muscles in your arms without weights -- so arm exercises without weights are only going to be able to target certain areas, primarily the tops of your shoulders (the deltoids) and your triceps. Other arm muscles -- like your biceps -- typically need some external resistance to work against. But the exercises we have listed below are definitely the best bodyweight exercises we’ve found to get your biceps in tip-top shape!

Most effective arm exercises without weights are some version of push-ups or planks, which means they also require you to engage your core, so you will work those muscles simultaneously. This means you might not feel the same concentrated burn in your arms as you would with, say, a banded shoulder press -- and that’s perfectly OK! Just because these equipment-free arm movements don’t isolate the upper body doesn’t mean they aren’t working it. And trust us, you will definitely feel the proof later.

While these exercises are useful for anyone -- no matter your fitness level -- they are especially good for newbies. When you really focus on just using your own body weight for resistance, it’s much easier to learn proper form, which can help prevent potential injuries that arise when you start lifting heavier.

Ready to get started? Here are the best bodyweight bicep exercises that really work!

Exercise #1: Doorway Curl

First on the list -- the doorway curl. This is an excellent bodyweight exercise for creating a peak contraction on the biceps muscle. This will allow you to start building size to the bicep when in a flexed position. It’ll also develop mid-biceps mass in the brachialis area. The doorway curl allows for supination of the arm to work the biceps during both of its functional motions. 

As you get stronger over time and the exercise becomes easier, you can add resistance by stepping through the door, straddling the wall with your feet. This lowers your body, increasing the dead weight resistance that your arm has to pull. 

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Biceps peak
  • Secondary: Biceps brachii

How to do it: Position yourself in a doorway, straddling the door jamb (a.k.a. doorpost). Grab the door jamb with one hand at about chest height. Both of your feet should be close to the bottom of the door jamb and together. Now, simply lean back so that your arm is extended. 

With your hand on the inside of the door frame, slowly pull yourself up towards it. As you come up, try your best to turn your pulling hand away from your body. This will cause your forearm to turn slightly, providing supination. 

Focus on feeling the contraction in your bicep as you pull in and forcefully contract the muscles at the top of the movement.  

Exercise #2: Self Curl 

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Biceps brachii
  • Secondary: Brachialis

How to do it: Start by standing with your hands directly in front of you. Your right should be palm up. Place your left-hand palm down into your right palm. Then, curl your right arm across your body toward your chest, using your left arms to provide resistance. Lower and repeat. 

How to do it with Gear 1: Do this exercise as above, but with the bands connected to the wrist bands and Gear connected to a low anchor.

Quick Note: You have the ability to vary the resistance throughout this movement by simply applying more or less pressure to the working arm. 

Exercise #3: Static Bicep Curl 

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Biceps brachii
  • Secondary: Forearm flexors

How to do it: Start by positioning yourself alongside a countertop positioned at about mid-bicep level. Place both of your arms under the countertop with your palms pushing up into the counter. Flex your biceps as tight as you can as you push into the counter to perform a 30-second static hold. 

Exercise #4: Leg Curl 

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Biceps brachii
  • Secondary: Brachialis

How to do it: Start by standing against a wall, leaning forward just a little, and cross one foot across to the opposite knee. Grab the ankle of your crossed foot with your opposite hand -- this leg will now act as your resistance. Then, lean forward with your upper body while keeping your butt up against the wall. Curl your left up towards your shoulder until you feel a peak contraction in your bicep. 

Quick Note: To increase the resistance, all you have to do is push your leg down. You can also do eccentric training for your biceps by resisting strongly on the way down. This allows for adaptable resistance -- which no free weight can possibly provide you!

Exercise #5: Side Lying Curl 

This is one of those funny movements that may look a bit awkward at first but will prove to be a fantastic muscle builder. It all relies on isolation of the working bicep. 

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Biceps brachii
  • Secondary: Brachialis

How to do it: Begin by lying on the floor on your side. One arm should be flat on the floor, with your other arm tucked behind your head so that it’s out of the way. Both of your knees should be bent and your head and shoulder up. 

Grip your hamstring. Then, bring your legs up slightly so that they are off the floor. This will also bring your forearms off the floor. Your upper arm should be the only part of your arm that has any contact with the floor. Now, use the power of your bicep muscle to pull your upper body up as far as you can. Allow your knees to come in a little bit to accentuate the peak contraction on the bicep. Concentrate on keeping your abs out of the lift, really forcing your arms to do all the work. 

Return back to your starting position and repeat.


A Final Word 

And there you go -- five of the best bodyweight bicep exercises that will allow you to hammer your biceps anywhere, anytime. No longer are you restricted to dumbbells and barbells when your intention is to blast your guns. 

Want to take it up a notch? Add a great resistance band like the one from HYGEAR to your bodyweight workout, and watch your muscles really grow.  

HYGEAR Gear 1 is a total workout system that replaces traditional gym equipment and a personal trainer -- ultimately saving you thousands of dollars -- while adding portability and versatility. With HYGEAR, you’ll have access to on-demand workout programs led by expert trainers to build strength, endurance, and total body fitness from the comfort of your home. The versatility bands can be anchored to your body, a door frame, or anything heavy that won’t budge, so you can bust out one of HYGEAR’s on-demand workouts pretty much anywhere. 

Check out HYGEAR and start growing your biceps today!


Triceps muscle | anatomy | Britannica

How to Engage Your Core (the Right Way) | Very Well Fit

How to do the resistance band shoulder press | Men's Health

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