If you want to grow your biceps a meaningful amount, you’re going to have to train them directly. But how can you do this if you no or very little equipment? Here’s how.
Biceps can be trained without equipment by using water bottles or sturdy shopping bags filled with the amount of weight you need to do curls. Other biceps exercises that can be done with limited equipment are resistance band curls and close grip pull-ups.
Keep reading to find out how to train and grow your biceps and which exercises you can choose from below.
How Can You Train Biceps?
To train and grow your biceps it’s important to know what the biceps are and what they do. The biceps are the muscle on top of your upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder. It moves the hands towards the shoulder by bending the elbow.
So to train your biceps, you want to extend your elbow completely and then bring your hands towards your shoulders. Repeat that many times with enough resistance and your biceps will become bigger and/or stronger.
If you want to train your biceps for size, you should work them out at least three times a week. Biceps recover pretty quickly so after a while, you can even increase the amount of days you train them.
Use sets of 10-15 repetitions. Try to get around 15-20 working sets a week. Working sets means you don’t count your warmup sets. The working sets should be done with a weight that’s challenging. At the end of each set, you should have about 2-3 repetitions left in the tank.
Especially in the beginning, go for quality over resistance. Start with a light weight and just do all the sets you need for the day. Add a little resistance every workout. Focus on moving the weight with your biceps and not throwing it with your body.
Exercises to grow biceps at home without equipment
If you don’t have any equipment at all, biceps aren’t the easiest muscle to train. There are some things you can do to still train your biceps even if you don’t have anything to train with.
Water Bottle Bag Curls
Without dumbbells or barbell, the best alternative you get at home is either a water bottle or shopping bag. One gallon jugs usually have a handle or something to make them easy to hold. That makes them relatively easy to hold almost like a dumbbell. Water bottles can easily be filled with just as much water as you want to to adjust the weight.
It is better to use smaller bottles if you don’t want a heavy weight. Filling a large water bottle with a little water makes the water slosh around which is not great.
If you need more weight, at some point a shopping bag or backpack is going to be a better option. Larger and larger water bottles is not going to work at some point. With bags you’ll have to hold the handle which means the weight can swing a little which does make the exercise more difficult but with heavy weights you’ll probably move slower which limits the swinging.
The exercise can be performed just like dumbbell curls. That means standing up with your elbows extended next to your body. From there, bring your hands (with the bottle or bag) towards your shoulders. Keep your elbows in the same place next to your waist.
Another good bicep exercise is the towel curl. You’ll need a towel and an exercise partner. Roll up the towel length-wise and grab it in the middle. The other person grabs the towel on the ends. You curl up while your partner tries to resist you moving up. That actually means your partner will be training their triceps at the same time since they do the opposite of biceps.
This is a good one for in hotel rooms and on holidays since you’ll almost always have a towel available. A partner isn’t always there though.
Your partner should resist your movement but if they’re much stronger than you, they don’t have to completely stop the movement. You should still be able to complete the movement.
If you’re alone, you can also lay on your back and use your legs to create the resistance. Check the video below for an explanation.
Table inverted rows
The last bicep exercise almost anyone can do without equipment is the inverted table row. All you need is a heavy table with four legs. If you don’t have a heavy table but do have a table with four legs, letting someone else sit on the table can do the trick.
This is more than only a bicep exercise, this is an exercise that targets your biceps but also the back of the shoulder and upper back.
You lay down under the table with the edge of the table at chest height. Grab the edge of the table and pull yourself up.
Exercises to grow biceps with equipment
What if you do have some equipment available? Here are some options to train biceps with equipment you might have in your home gym. You probably won’t be able to do all of these exercises but if you have any gym equipment at all, there is a good chance you can do one or more of these.
Here they are again: Curls! That’s because it’s just the go to exercise for biceps since it isolates the biceps. There’s good news and bad news: Bad news first, there are tons of different types of bicep curls. The good news is that you can do curls with pretty much anything. Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, dogs, etc. If it something you can hold and bring from next to your body to your shoulder, it’s possible to curl.
Resistance band curls
Something many people have at home is a set of resistance bands. If you don’t have any gym equipment but want something cheap and small, a set of these bands is hard to beat with how much bang you get for your buck.
Here’s how you do curls with resistance bands.
Take a resistance band that’s the correct weight for you. Grab the band with two hands and let the rest hang down. Step on the band with both feet so it’s secured in place. Hold the band in such a way where there is just the tiniest amount of resistance while resting your hands next to your body. From there, curl like normal.
Another way to use resistance bands for curls is by attaching them to the legs of a heavy cabinet. As long as it’s possible to attach the band close to the floor without it sliding up it’s OK. Grab the other end of the band with one hand, face away from the cabinet and step forward until there is tension on the band. Curl from there. You can keep your elbow a little behind your body.
Many people will be able to find a place to do pull ups somewhere. Pull ups are good for the back as well as biceps. The way to do pull ups and target the biceps the most is to grab the bar with your palms facing towards you and hold the bar at shoulder width. That hand position takes most (not all) of your back out of it and transfers the force production to your arms.