Decline push-ups, pike push-ups, handstand push-ups — there are seemingly endless variations of push exercises that can train your chest and triceps muscles without having to go to the gym. But what about your biceps?
Though training your biceps with no gym equipment requires some creativity, these moves will do the trick. When you need to give the biceps a little TLC, make this five-move routine your new go-to.
At-Home Biceps Workout
Your biceps brachii is the muscle on the front of your upper arm. It's a powerful player in almost any pulling motion you perform, but it also helps out with forearm supination (turning your palm to face forward if your elbow is straight, or turning your palm to face up if your elbow is bent) and assists when you flex your shoulder forward or across the front of your body.
But the primary job of your biceps is to pull — and that's why you need some sort of object to work it. "Since we need something to pull from, it's a lot harder to do a biceps exercise [at home] than it would be to do a triceps or chest exercise," says Noam Tamir, certified personal trainer and founder of TS Fitness.
While dumbbells are definitely the easiest tool to use, just a towel and chair can do the trick, too. As you move through this sequence, keep the exercises slow to get the most contraction from the muscles, Tamir says. And don't forget to take deep breaths, too!
1. Towel Biceps Curl
- Begin standing with a small towel in your hands.
- Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your back flat.
- Grip one end of the towel in each hand. Create tension in the towel by pulling your hands apart in an underhand grip.
- Keeping your elbows at your sides, squeeze the towel and curl your hands up toward your shoulders.
- Then, bring your hands back down.
Reps: 4 sets of 12
"The more tension you create, the more the muscle will activate and the more you're going to get out of the exercise," Tamir says.
2. TRX-Inspired Towel Curl
- Begin by placing two long towels across the top of a door, letting them hang low down the door.
- Close and lock the door, securing the towels in place.
- Hold a towel in each hand and sit down on the ground with your feet flat against the door.
- Use your biceps to pull your body up, rotating your fists from a neutral to underhand grip as you rise up.
- Pull yourself up as high as you can go and then return to the ground with control.
Reps: 4 sets of 10
3. Towel Biceps Hammer Curl
- Start standing with a towel in your hands.
- Keep the back flat and shoulders away from the ears.
- Grip the towel in a neutral grip. Create tension in the towel by pulling your hands apart.
- With your elbows glued to your ribs, tighten the towel and curl the hands to shoulders.
- With control, bring the hands back down.
Reps: 4 sets of 12
4. Inverted Body Row
- Sit underneath a table or chair, facing out through an opening between the legs.
- Reach up and take the edge of the table in an underhand grip. Use this to support your body as you walk your legs out in front of you until your body is straight from head to heels.
- Lift your chest up toward the underside of the table.
- Lower yourself back down with a smooth, controlled motion. This completes one repetition.
Reps: 4 sets of 12 reps
Can't quite do an inverted body row? Try keeping your feet planted flat on the floor and only walking them far enough out that your body is straight from head to knees. Your torso and thighs will be horizontal, which gives you room to do the row without hitting your head, but having your feet a little closer will somewhat reduce the amount of weight you're lifting.
5. TRX-Inspired Towel Pull-Up
- Place two long towels across the top of a door, letting them hang low down the door.
- Grasp a towel in each hand with an overhand grip and sit onto the ground.
- Place your feet flat against the door.
- On an exhale, engage your biceps and lats and pull yourself up with the towels.
- Pull until your chest is in line with your fists, keeping an overhand grip.
- Then, return to the ground with control.
Reps: 4 sets of 10
If a pull-up feels too challenging, place your feet on the floor and give yourself a little assistance on the pull-up.