The Calisthenics Bicep Workout: 7 Best Exercises You Can Do At Home

Are you looking to train your biceps with calisthenics?

You are in the right place.

In this post, you will learn:

  • the seven best bodyweight exercises for building strong biceps,
  • one key strategy to ensure you are activating the biceps, and
  • a calisthenics bicep workout you can do at home with minimal equipment

Let’s get started.

the best calisthenic-bicep-workout cover image

Can you build biceps with calisthenics?

It is possible to build your biceps with calisthenics as long as you focus on the correct exercises and do them with good form.

Specifically, you need to mix and match a variety of pulling exercises to get the best results.

Also, it is essential to build a mind-muscle connection with your bicep muscles. In other words, you need to focus on feeling the bicep contracting during each exercise.

Lastly, control the eccentric portion of the movement.

Slow down the lowering phase of the exercise. Doing this will increase the time under tension of your biceps, which correlates with muscle hypertrophy.

Let’s go over the exercises now.

What calisthenics movements work the biceps?

The biceps has three functions:

1. To flex the elbow

2. To supinate the forearm (turn the palm up)

3. To flex the shoulder

Any bodyweight exercise that does one or more of these actions will train the biceps.

I’ll go over the best exercises in just a moment.

Equipment You Need To Build Bigger Arms

Bodyweight training often doesn’t need a lot of equipment to get a fantastic workout. But to get the most out of bicep training, you should invest in some equipment.

You only need two things:

A Pull-up Bar

At this point, there are so many different types of pull-up bars you can get.

They range from

  • a simple metal bar that you screw into the wall,
  • a portable bar that you mount on your doorframe,
  • fully-stocked pull-up station or squat rack

Pull-up bars are an essential piece of equipment; you should get one ASAP.

Here is the one I have (which is a steal on Amazon).

Our Pick
CAP Barbell Power Rack Exercise Stand With Pull-Up Bar CAP Barbell Power Rack Exercise Stand With Pull-Up Bar

Low profile squat rack with storage for barbell and weight plates. Includes an 85 inch pull-up bar!

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Gymnastics Rings

The second thing you’ll need is gymnastics rings.

Rings are the most versatile equipment you can get, and it attaches right to your pull-up bar.

Rings allow you to rotate your hands freely and unlock the ability to do all kinds of horizontal pushing and pulling exercises.

They come in wood or plastic varieties. I recommend wood as they are of better quality.

Our Pick
Gymnastics Rings Gymnastics Rings

Highly-durable wooden gymnastic rings, perfect for an at-home total body workout.

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Okay, let’s go over how to build your biceps with calisthenics!

The best bodyweight bicep exercises

Now let’s cover the best calisthenics exercises for the biceps. Some of these movements are advanced, but I will go over how to make them easier as well.

Commando Pull ups

Commando pull-ups are a fun exercise that focuses on elbow flexion and a bit of shoulder flexion.

alex hanging from a pullup bar with a neutral grip, palms facing in, pulling himself up to either side of the bar
  • Grab the pull-up bar with a neutral grip. (with your palms facing each other as you stand perpendicular to the bar).
  • Play around with the distance between your hands to find what’s comfortable. (The closer, the better).
  • Begin by flexing your elbows and lifting your body toward the bar.
  • You will need to bring your head to one side of the bar so that your trap muscle makes contact with the bar.
  • Lower yourself slowly back to the starting position.
  • On the next repetition, bring your head to the opposite side of the bar.
  • Repeat this movement for reps, focusing on doing the eccentric slowly.

For an easier variation: jump up to the top position and slowly lower yourself down.

One Arm Chin Up Negatives

Regular chin-ups are already a great bicep exercise.

However, one arm chin-up negatives really overload the biceps. There are many ways to scale it depending on your fitness level.

Here’s how to do it.

alex hanging from a pullup bar and lowering himself down slowly with one arm extended
  • Use a chair or a bench to get to the top chin-up position (hands supinated – facing you).
  • Next, take one hand and slide it as far out to the side while still holding on to the bar.
  • From here, engage your core and slowly lower yourself down.
  • Do this slowly, and keep your elbow close to your body.
  • As you are descending, really focus on the mind-muscle bicep connection.
  • Make sure to use a full range of motion and extend the elbow down to the bottom
  • Jump back up to the starting position and repeat with your other hand.

To make this exercise easier, don’t straighten the non-working elbow all the way. The more the elbow is bent, the more assistance it can provide to the working arm.


The following exercise is the headbanger, and it’s one of the closest things to a calisthenics bicep curl.

This movement requires a good deal of balance but is very effective if done correctly.

alex hanging from a pullup and flexing his and extending his elbows to bring his head closer and further away from the bar
  • Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip at a shoulder-width distance.
  • Get to the top of the pull-up position and pause at the top.
  • From here, begin pushing away from the bar by straightening your elbows and leaning back slightly.
  • Try not to let your body lower at all and stay at the same height.
  • Then, quickly pull yourself back closer to the bar by flexing your elbows. Pretend as if you were going to bang your head into the bar.
  • Continue alternating from a flexed elbow and extended elbow position in a quick but controlled manner.

To scale this exercise back, feel free to keep your feet on a bench or a chair to offload some of your body weight.

Horizontal Bodyweight Ring Curls

Now we will isolate the biceps with the rings. These are also known as upside-down curls. The rings will allow you to train both elbow flexion and supination.

alex in a horizontal position hanging from rings and curling his biceps to bring body up toward the rings
  • Position yourself horizontally under the rings and grab the rings with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  • Your hands should be shoulder-width apart on the ring handles.
  • Keep your spine straight, your core tight, and your glutes engaged.
  • Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Ideally, your body should be in a straight line with your knees making a 90-degree angle.
  • Curl both of your arms as you bring your forehead toward the rings.
  • Rotate your hands so that they are completely supinated at the top.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body, and do not let your hips sag.
  • Pause at the top and feel the peak bicep contraction.
  • Slowly lower the eccentric and repeat.

To make this movement easier, change the angle by making your back more perpendicular.

Inverted Row With Supinated Grip (AKA Bicep Rows)

Next is the supinated grip row. This great exercise will train both your back muscles and your biceps.

alex in a horizontal position hanging from rings and pulling his body up towards the rings with his palms facing him
  • Position yourself horizontally under the rings and grab the rings with a supinated/ underhand grip.
  • Your hands should be shoulder-width apart on the ring handles.
  • Feel free to bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your spine straight, your core tight, and your glutes engaged.
  • Ideally, your body should be in a straight line with your knees making a 90-degree angle.
  • Pull your chest up toward the ring by flexing your elbows and squeezing your biceps.
  • Hold the top position for 1 second and slowly lower yourself back down.

To make this movement easier, change the angle by making your back more perpendicular.

Close Grip Pull-Up Isometrics

The next exercise is an isometric exercise, which means you’ll hold the end contraction for time.

The close grip will help activate the arm muscles more.

alex at the top of a pull-up just holding the position
  • Start with your hands closer than shoulder-width apart on an overhead bar.
  • Use a chair or a bench to jump up to the top of a pull-up position.
  • Squeeze your biceps as tight as possible, then hold the end range.
  • Your biceps will begin to give out, at which time you will slowly lower yourself into an eccentric.

Korean Ring Dip (AKA The Bicep Dip)

The Korean Ring Dip is an advanced exercise that trains the chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps.

It trains your shoulder stabilizer muscles as well.

Do not attempt them unless you are comfortable performing ring dips already.

Here’s how to do it:

alex doing dips on gymnastic rings with a supinated grip- palms facing forward
  • Position the rings shoulder-width apart and jump up to the supported ring dip support position.
  • From here, turn your hands out completely (supination) and maintain this position throughout the entire set.
  • Begin bending your elbows and allowing your torso to lean forward slightly as you lower into the dip.
  • Really focus on keeping your hands turned out.
  • At the bottom, retract your shoulder blades and keep your shoulders externally rotated.
  • Press back up to the starting position without letting your hands come out of the supinated position.
  • Make sure to have complete control throughout the entire movement.

To make this movement easier, only do the eccentric portion of the exercise.

Okay, so that’s how you get big biceps with bodyweight and a little equipment,

Now let’s go over some exercises that you can do without a bar.

Calisthenics Biceps Exercises Without A Bar (No Equipment)

Now let’s go over a few bodyweight exercises you can do without a bar.

First, is a push-up variation.

As a result, you can manipulate your hand placement to activate the bicep in a pushing exercise.

Here’s how:

Reverse Grip Pushups

The first bicep exercise without a bar is the reverse grip biceps push-up.

By placing your hands in reverse position and leaning forward, this push-up train your biceps in two ways:

  • The biceps have to work to stabilize your elbow joint when your elbow and in a supinated position under load
  • They are also being worked as the forward lean causes shoulder flexion via an isometric contraction

You have to be in the correct starting position to do this exercise properly.

If you don’t have the proper form, it won’t work.

alex doing pushups with his hands turned backward
  • Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart with your fingers pointing backward.
  • Assume a push-up position, keeping your core tight, glutes engaged, and neutral spine.
  • Next, lean forward so your shoulders are in front of your hands. This is the only way to ensure your biceps get activated.
  • From here, do a push-up, ensuring that you are tucking your elbows in close to your body.
  • It is essential to maintain a forward lean the entire time you do this exercise.

Still don’t think this trains the biceps?

Try this.

Pretend to do the reverse grip push-up while standing against a wall.

Stand up close to the wall to imitate that you are in the bottom position of a push-up.

Place your hands down by your navel, and make sure your fingers point toward the floor.

alex demonstrating the pushup with hands turned backward while standing against a wall

Now, push against the wall as if you were trying to extend the elbow.

Take one hand and touch your opposite bicep as you are doing this.

What do you feel?

One-Handed Wall Pulls

Next is the one-handed wall pull.

To do this exercise, you will need a door frame or a sturdy pole.

alex pulling himself toward a doorframe
  • Find a sturdy door frame that can support your body weight.
  • Grab the door with both hands at the level of your upper chest.
  • Place your feet as close to the frame as possible and lean back slightly.
  • Next, straighten both arms to lean back and support yourself with your hands completely.
  • From here, let go with one hand so that you are only supporting yourself with one hand.
  • Begin pulling yourself toward the frame until your chest makes contact.
  • Really focus on squeezing the bicep as much as possible.

Resistance Bands Bicep Curls

If you don’t have a bar or rings, your last option is to get resistance bands.

These are the ones I recommend.

Our Pick
Resistance Band Set Resistance Band Set

Long closed-loop resistance band set (4-pack). These bands are lightweight, portable, and highly versatile.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
alex doing bicep curls with a resistance band

With bands, you can do a ton of bicep curl work as if you were doing dumbbell curls.

Don’t forget to focus on the mind-muscle connection and time under tension!

Calisthenics Biceps Workout Program

Alright, now let’s get to the biceps bodyweight workout program.

In actuality, it’s a calisthenics back and bicep workout.

Commando Pull-ups38-10
Reverse Grip Push-ups310
Supine Bodyweight Rows312
Resistance Band Bicep Curls320

Do this workout twice per week, swapping out the movements every four weeks.

As you can see, this workout focuses on compound movements.

I.e., many of the exercises target several muscle groups in the upper arm (and upper body) to make your training efficient!

You should never focus purely on one muscle group. You must become a well-rounded human by evenly training all the muscles in your body.

That is why I designed a simple at-home calisthenics workout template that anyone can follow.

Just enter your email below to get started!

Other Related Questions

How many times a week should I work out my biceps?

You should train your biceps at least twice a week. Since the biceps are a small muscle group, it is unlikely that you will overtrain them.

With that said, all kinds of pulling exercises will train biceps to a degree. As a result, you might inadvertently hit your biceps muscles when training your back.

Do push-ups work your biceps?

Traditional push-ups work your triceps, chest, and front deltoid muscles.

However, your biceps will get activated if you reverse your grip and lean forward, as you would when doing a pseudo planche push-up.

That’s because this movement causes your shoulders to be in a constantly flexed state. As you might recall, shoulder flexion is one of the main functions of the bicep muscle.

I also have a list of the best calisthenics tricep exercises if you are interested!

Do planks work biceps?

Planks do not train the bicep muscles, especially if you are performing a forearm plank.

On the other hand, the planche exercise does train the biceps via isometric contraction.

The planche requires a significant degree of forward lean, which activates the biceps via shoulder flexion.

Final Words On Building Big Arms With Calisthenics

It’s possible to build stronger arms and bigger biceps with calisthenics alone. It just takes some creativity when designing your workout routine.

Now I want to hear from you.

Which bicep exercise are you most excited to try?

Comment below and let us know!

Other Calisthenics Compound Exercises You Might Want To Check Out!


Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM Certified Personal Trainers, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a resource dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals using time-efficient strategies. Their advice has been featured in My Fitness Pal, Prevention, Livestrong, Reader’s Digest, Bustle, The Active Times, and more. Learn more about them here.

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