These Arm Exercises Will Build Your Biceps — No Weights Required

Getting to the gym is hard enough as is, and the wait for equipment once you’re there makes it even worse. Fortunately, you can get a great workout without any dumbbells, barbells, or fancy machinery. Our Weight-Free Workouts series focuses on a different muscle group each time to show you how to build strength, even when you don’t have access to the gym. With these moves, any time can be workout time.

Get started with these exercises.

1. Chin-ups

Woman performing a chin-up

This classic workout is perfect for everyone. | iStock/Getty Images

To perform chin-ups, you’ll need access to a bar. This can be one specifically designed for these types of exercises, but you can also use monkey bars at a local park. Reach your arms overhead to grasp the bar with an underhand grip, keeping your hands about shoulder width apart. Once you’re firmly gripping the bar, pull yourself straight up until your chin rises above the bar, then lower back to the starting position in a controlled motion. You should be using just muscle contractions to perform this move rather than kicking or swinging your legs. Check out Muscle & Fitness for a demonstration of the correct form.

2. Seated high back row

Resistance bands

You can do a ton of stuff workouts with resistance bands. |

Before you start, you’ll need to anchor the center of the resistance band. Either set something very heavy over the center portion or loop it around the leg of a sturdy table. Position yourself far enough away so the ends of the band stretch gently. Sit on the floor with a slight bend in your knees and your heels on the ground. Grip both handles with your arms extended straight in front of you, your palms facing down. Without leaning, pull your hands to your chest. Slowly extend back to the starting position, then repeat.

3. Head bangers

A woman does a pull up on a bar.

These will challenge your body. | Kostolom/iStock/Getty Images

For the basic exercise, grip a pull-up bar with an underhand grip. Pull yourself up until your chin rises above the bar, then extend your arms so your body moves back and away from the bar. Don’t worry about extending your arms completely. Pull yourself back until your chin is right above the bar again, then repeat. For a more detailed tutorial, check out this video from BarStarzz.

4. Isometric biceps hold

Man holding towel

A towel can be used as workout equipment. |

Coil the towel so it’s easy to grip. Hold one end of the towel in your right hand, then step on the other end of the towel with your right foot. Keeping your elbow anchored toward your body, curl your palm toward your body until you feel resistance. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides. SparkPeople recommends adjusting how far you step your feet apart to vary the resistance.

5. Resistance band hammer curl

Resistance band bicep curls

You don’t need dumbbells to do curls. |

To perform hammer curls with resistance bands, anchor the center of the band behind you or stand on top of it. Keeping your knees slightly bent, grip one end of the band in each hand, arms extended along the sides of your body. Your palms should face in. Keeping your elbow steady, contract your muscles to curl your hands toward your chest. Slowly release your arms back to the starting position, then repeat.

6. Inverted bodyweight rows

A man at a gym working out in fitness gear.

If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can do a variation of this workout at home. | Vahva Fitness

This is a simple, effective exercise you can do in the living room or kitchen. Lie flat on your back beneath a table — the edge should be high enough so that you can just reach it while on the floor. Grip the edge of the table with your palms facing away from you (this will work your biceps). Keeping your body completely straight and contracting your abs, pull yourself up until your chest touches the table. Lower yourself back down, and repeat.

7. Dive-bomber push-ups

A woman in a gym getting into a push up position.

This variation is fun and adds a kick to your workout. | Jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images

Start in the regular push-up position. Raise your hips in the air, forming an inverted V as you shift your weight to your feet and hands. Shift your weight completely to your arms as you slowly “dive” toward your hands. Bend your arms inward as you move. Push your arms back up, raise your head and butt, and let your hips almost touch the ground. Make sure you keep your arms locked, arch your back and keep your head up. Reverse this move and repeat for 5 to 10 reps.