Build big biceps without a single piece of equipment
While the pullup is the undisputed king of bodyweight pulling exercises, the chinup is the king of the best bodyweight biceps exercises. How can that be you ask? With more than just a slight change to the position of your hands during the exercise you can make sure that you get a killer bodyweight biceps workout by including the chinup in your exercise selection.
Exercise demonstration here
The fact that many people already know to include the chinup in their bodyweight pulling workouts isn’t enough. You need to focus on the three tips I show you in this video to be sure you get more biceps activation out of the exercise each time you do it.
First, you need to focus on how you grip the bar during a chinup. Simply gripping with equal pressure and then pulling yourself up on the bar is not recommended. If you want to increase the activation of the biceps you want to focus the squeeze in the fourth and fifth fingers. Even better, you want to release the bar with your thumbs to ensure that the grip power comes more from the other end of your hand. This grip tweak allows for a resisted or isometric supination component to the exercise. One of the major inclusions in a biceps contraction is either supination or the act of resisted supination.
Next, you want to be careful not to flex your elbows fully. You not only take tension away from the biceps by basically resting on your joints during a fully flexed chinup but you weaken the amount of tension that can be generated by the biceps due to something called active insufficiency. This happens when you contract a muscle that crosses more than one joint. In the case of the biceps it is a muscle that crosses three joints.
If you maximally flex your elbow you will decrease the amount of tension that can be developed during the third component of biceps contraction and that is shoulder flexion. With the biceps crossing the shoulder joint you have to include a contribution of raising your shoulder in front of your body if you want to experience peak contraction.
That said, back to the point on active insufficiency, you want to be sure to back off the flexion at the elbow just a little bit if you want to keep the strength of the contraction on the biceps. A strong contraction of the biceps in your workouts will help you to create more overload and ultimately grow bigger arms.
For a complete bodyweight biceps exercise plan as well as workouts to build your entire body without weights, be sure to head to and get the ATHLEAN XERO program. This complete program requires no equipment at all and helps you build muscle in just 6 weeks.
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