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Calisthenics Training for Bigger Biceps

flexing biceps

Can You Effectively Train Biceps with Callisthenics?

For many guys the very mention of the word bicep causes a jump to the ‘dumbbell curls’ mental imagery. And it is true that due to its fairly short range of motion, the dumbbell would appear to be the best way to effect change in that particular muscle.

Unless you’ve ever wondered whether or not you can effectively train biceps with calisthenics or not. The simple answer to this question is yes you can—if you can move it, you can train it.

But first you might consider how much the bicep is involved in various particular movements. Everyone knows chin-ups are one of the best bicep exercises in their various forms. But most of the other muscle groups are also brought into play around the back, core, and shoulders while the bicep work is being done.

This is a good thing as it provides support, creates balance, and lessens the possibility of injury. The beauty of calisthenic training and one of the reasons enthusiasts have a great, balanced, all-round body shape as well as a kind of ‘all-over’ body strength is due to the fact that you can’t really work anything that much without working everything else.

Basic Bicep Function

The bicep is primarily responsible for the flexion of the elbow joint as well as the shoulder to a lesser extent. The bicep has a long head and a short head and both run from the shoulder blade to the forearm. This muscle also helps to raise the arms in an externally-rotated position.

Most calisthenic exercises are compound to some extent which means the bicep is often brought into play while executing many of the other moves—pullups and pushups being the obvious examples, as well as plank and reverse-plank-style moves and training.

Incorporating Bicep-Heavy Calisthenic Moves

Of course it is more difficult to isolate the bicep completely during any type of compound movement—which most calisthenics are—but it is totally possible to put more work onto them from certain positions and bringing other factors like rotation into play. After that it is simply a case of how hard you are willing to work on the development of the biceps using various methodologies such as sets/reps, continuous work etc.

For example, if you are not the type who is likely to be doing hundreds of reps (which is quite low calisthenic-wise), you’ll need to incorporate or experiment with other approaches such as employing slow reps or fast/slow combos and even isometrics like the plank.

Is Any Equipment Necessary?

Yes and no. As with most calisthenic work it is possible to do something to develop your biceps without employing any equipment whatsoever as you should see from some of the sample exercises given below.

But any decent bicep-focused routine can benefit from some of the excellent staples found in exercise areas of some of the better parks like pull-up bars (of various heights if you are really lucky). And there is no denying that one of the major bicep calisthenic exercises employs the bars.

And if you cast a glance at the impressively-formed biceps of most ring gymnasts, it won’t be too difficult to guess what the other really handy piece of equipment for bicep work is.

Sample Calisthenic Bicep-Heavy Exercises

  1. The Chin-Up (TIP—shorten the range of movement and focus on the bicep part of the arm instead of extending the full range)
  2. You could also try the slightly easier ‘negative’ approach with Commando one-arm negatives
  3. The Bicep Push-Up (hands facing back) are slightly more advanced for some levels
  4. Bodyweight Biceps Curl with rings for fuller range of movement (TIP— keep upper arms at 90 degrees to the body. Also supinate forearms on curling movement and pronate on extension).


Common Questions:

  1. Can I train biceps everyday using calisthenic moves? ANSWER: If you can’t move through a complete range of motion due to soreness in any particular muscle or area it shouldn’t be pushed again the next day. No soreness means either your body has completely adapted—or you simply aren’t putting in enough work
  2. How many reps of calisthenic exercises would I need to be doing to build my biceps? ANSWER: There’s no generic answer to that one due to so many varying factors between each individual. But it does pay to think not so much in terms of numbers, rather how much you are actually working the area you are trying to develop.
  3. Can I develop my bicep with calisthenics to be as big as someone who uses weights. ANSWER: That would largely also be a case of how much effort and work you were willing to add to it and how your body responds, but it is possible with consistency and effort—as is everything.



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