HOME BICEPS WORKOUT WITHOUT WEIGHTS
In the times of gym closures and an increase in the number of people doing home bicep workouts, what are you doing to reach that goal of bigger biceps?
Do you not have an arm workout because you don’t have access to a pair of dumbbells or a barbell?
Are you afraid that anything resembling lighter weights will keep you from serious arm size?
I can tell you right now that not having a traditional resource like you’d find in the gym should NOT stop you from more muscle mass and bigger arms.
What can you use instead? Resistance bands!
The best band exercises for biceps are going to help you to meet your goals without having to compromise.
Best of all, you don’t need to spend a fortune. All of these bicep exercises can be done with a standard set of resistance bands.
Today, I’m going to show you the best home biceps exercises without weights that are guaranteed to give you the bigger arms you’re looking for.
Here are ten arm exercises to get you on the right track to muscle growth and building bigger biceps with just bands.
ANATOMY OF THE BICEPS
As always, I want to start with the anatomy of the major muscles in the arms: the bicep muscles and the forearm muscles – two of the most popular muscles in the upper body.
Starting with the bicep muscles, we know anatomically the biceps have two heads. We have the inside short head that you see when you flex in the mirror.
SHORT HEAD OF THE BICEPS BRACHII
And we have the outside long head that you see from the side, more of the peak.
LONG HEAD OF THE BICEPS BRACHII
While the Brachialis is not technically considered a part of the biceps muscle, it’s very important to focus on if you want wider biceps.
There are also the forearm muscles, which aren’t the primary focus of this workout, but they will certainly come into play here.
Now that you know which muscles we’ll be targeting in this workout, let’s jump into the ten resistance band biceps exercises and your new home biceps workout.
RESISTANCE BAND BICEPS WORKOUT
With bicep workouts, you’re probably expecting only ONE type of moves with weights: Bicep Curls.
You’re not wrong, there are a lot of curls (even though there are no weights), but I actually want to start with a type of Chin Up.
1) BAND-ASSISTED CHIN-UP
From the starting position, think about how you’d perform a normal Chin-Up.
The combination of the underhand grip, supination of the forearm, flexion of the elbow, and flexion of the shoulder puts the bicep in a fully contracted position as an example of bodyweight exercises.
A bodyweight bicep exercise like this is effective, but with that said, it’s important to remember that for some, body weight might be a lot.
So, the band can be stepped into and used as an assistance tool to make it easier as you build up your strength and movement.
Or you can make the movement MORE difficult by anchoring the band to something sturdy and heavy on the ground.
Then you put the band around the back of your head, jump up to the pull up bar, and bang out some reps in a more overloaded fashion.
Either way, guys, you can’t get around the fact that the Chin Up is one of the basic foundational movements for building bigger biceps and the bands make your job that much easier.
2) RESISTANCE BAND NO MONEY CURL
With the chin-up exercise out of the way, let’s jump into the curls. And believe me, these are not your normal biceps curls.
In lieu of a standard curl, you’re going to be making tweaks to how you perform each curl I cover.
While there are a lot of curls here, it’s more important to remember that it’s more about how you do the curls that matters.
One of the best things about this resistance band biceps workout is that grip strength doesn’t really factor into this. As long as you perform the exercise correctly, you’re really only focusing on the bicep muscle – not grip strength.
Our first curl is the No Money Curl.
This is an example of short head biceps curls.
Here’s how you can tell: the angle of your arms.
If you can view the inside portion of the bicep when you do it, then that’s the sign of the portion of the biceps that you’re going to be working more.
And with the No Money Curl, you’re not just getting the resisted flexion and supination, but you’ll also get resisted external rotation.
As you lift the band to shoulder height, that gives you that extra benefit to your rotator cuff, which is never a bad thing.
If you want to push this exercise into overdrive, try extending the time under tension.
3) RESISTANCE BAND CLOSE GRIP SUPINATION CURL
You just took care of the short head of the bicep muscle in the last exercise. So, how do you target exercises that get the outer head or the long head of the biceps?
You need to be able to see them when you perform the exercise and one of the best ways to do that is with narrower grips.
This means you need to pull the band up a little bit tighter, and the best exercise for that is the Close Grip Supination Curl.
Now, how you anchor the band matters, and this is a prime example of that in play.
Beginning in the starting position, you want to make sure that you’re resisting supination and not just flexion of the elbow.
As you wrap the band, you’ll see the final wrap goes around the middle knuckle of the finger.
That actually matters A LOT because as you pull the band up and turn your wrist, you’ll be resisting supination.
That means a better contraction on the biceps and more work being done.
The narrow position of the hands really close together is going to reveal that outer portion of the biceps, and that means the long head is preferentially going to get more of the activity.
4) RESISTANCE BAND BICEP STRETCH CURL
Let’s stick with that long head of the biceps muscle in this biceps workout without weights.
Mainly because there’s another way you can influence the activation of that head of the biceps.
That is by placing a stretch on it before every single repetition.
Anatomically, with the tendon of the long head attaching higher up on the shoulder and crossing the shoulder joint, you can place it preferentially into a stretched position by getting your arm back behind your body into shoulder extension.
If you set yourself up for a Bicep Stretch Curl, you are getting a better stretch on the long head here.
What’s more, by contracting in a pre-stretched position, you’ll get better activation.
This biceps exercise showcases once again HOW you do the curls will play a big part in the results that you ultimately see from the exercise.
5) RESISTANCE BAND DRAG CURL
Long head exercises are very beneficial so I’m going to cover another option.
The Drag Curl is one of my favorites.
This one should look a little familiar as you’re trying to get that arm back into extension behind your body. This is going to recruit the fibers of the long head of the bicep muscles.
Anchor the bend under your heels behind your body and then wrap it around your low back to stabilize it and keep it in place.
From here, all you’re going to do is lift your hands straight up to the ceiling, making sure to keep the elbows as far back as possible.
There’s a reason why this biceps exercise has stuck around for as long as it has: It can produce legendary gains if you remember to include it.
6) RESISTANCE BAND LIP BUSTER CURL
One of the nice advantages that comes from training with bands is that they offer up a different strength curve than you would normally see on a traditional Dumbbell Curl or Wrist Curl.
As you stretch the band out further and further, the resistance level goes up.
If you could find a way to match up that peak tension with the peak contraction of the biceps, then you have an exercise to hold onto and that’s what we get here with the Lip Buster Curl.
And by getting in this position, you will have flexion of the elbow and supination of the forearm. Not to mention, you’ve got that elevated shoulder into flexion and that really creates peak bicep contraction.
If you want to make it even more difficult, you can add an eccentric component to this for more overload.
All you have to do while performing a curl is take a giant step back. That will increase the tension even more as it tries to pull you back towards the bar.
This is a must-have exercise when it comes to rounding out these ten great choices for banded bicep exercises.
7) RESISTANCE BAND WAITER’S CURL
Speaking of feeling a strong biceps contraction, there’s no way you’re getting out of this workout without a variation of some sort of the Bicep Waiter Curl.
With the dumbbell, this is one of my favorite ways to get that contraction in the biceps.
But you can still do the same thing with bands as long as you are a little bit creative and know how to wrap the bands to create a line of resistance. No bench needed!
Step into the band and position it around your hands in an overhand grip, focusing the overload on the distal fingers.
Now, all you have to do is simply raise your hands with your palms up the entire time straight towards the ceiling.
This mimics what you’re trying to accomplish when you have a dumbbell in your hands. You don’t have to compromise or get rid of the exercise in the process.
8) RESISTANCE BAND PREACHER CURLS
One of the best parts about the Dumbbell Preacher Curl is that it goes back to working that inside short heads of the biceps.
And you can get that same attention to the biceps with bands.
And it does that by positioning your arm out in front of your body as opposed to keeping it back behind the body like we talked about.
By locking it in place, you eliminate a lot of the swing and momentum that would otherwise cheat the exercise and take away some of its benefits.
Take a staggered stance and anchor your elbow in place on your knee. This will allow you to double up the band so you have plenty of resistance.
You can replicate all the benefits of a Preacher Curl without ever needing a bench, a dumbbell or anything other than the band you’re holding.
9) RESISTANCE BAND CROSS-BODY HAMMER CURLS
No list of ultimate bicep exercises would be complete without considering the brachialis.
Yes, it’s a different muscle, but functionally it’s going to have a lot of overlap with what the biceps do and aesthetically it’s going to have an impact on how your biceps look.
With the next two exercises, you’re going to work on the muscle that lies underneath the biceps.
First, you have Cross-Body Hammer Curls.
Unlike the Dumbbell Hammer Curl, you’re going to set the band up nice and wide, so you have adequate resistance to challenge this muscle.
In a hammer grip and with your elbows tight to your body, pull the band up and across to shoulder level. Before releasing to the original position, feel the tension at the top.
When you do this properly, you’ll be in a pronated position and this will effectively target the brachialis.
If you do this right, you’re not going to feel that typical bicep contraction, but something much deeper.
10) RESISTANCE BAND HAMMER CURL
The one downside to the Crossbody Hammer Curl is that the resistance level that you’re going to be able to use there might be lower than you’d expect due to the range of motion.
And that’s where the Banded Hammer Curl comes in.
For the biceps Hammer Curls, you’ll take a slightly more neutral position and you’re going to double up the band.
You’ll be in an offset grip, and that’s important because the more slack you have peeking out from under that foot, the less resistance that’s applied to the band.
And the less slack we have there, the higher the resistance level.
Stay in motion and don’t rest with these. Go from one curl right into the next.
Just remember, this option is going to give you the chance to load up with some extra resistance, so don’t forget to take advantage of that fact and do so.
And with that, you have ten biceps exercises with bands that you can use to build bigger biceps.
If you’re looking for a complete program that you can do at home with limited equipment, you can find that in our ATHLEAN-X programs.
- As with any bicep workout routine, there are many different curl variations and workout variables. That said, there are slight tweaks that can be made on any curl that can drastically improve the ability of the exercise to develop your arms.
- The first biceps exercise with bands is the Chin-Up. You can make the exercise easier by stepping into it during the chin-up, or harder by wrapping it around the back of your head.
- The next biceps exercise with bands is the No Money Curl. This helps to more effectively target the inner short head of the biceps muscle while adding a bit of external rotation resistance to bolster the often-weak rotator cuff muscles.
- No list of the best band exercises for biceps could be complete without exercises for the bicep long head. Focus on biceps exercises that keep your arm back behind your body and/or turned inward. The Close Grip Supination Curl does just that.
- Stretch Curls involves placing the arm behind the body, ensuring you are pre-stretching the biceps long head prior to every rep. Due to the bicep stretch- reflex and its ability to create stronger contractions, you are able to more effectively recruit the long head muscle tissue fibers to the curl.
- Other exercises like the Banded Waiter’s Curls and Lip Buster Curls are effective at creating peak contraction of the biceps under the load of maximum tension.
- The Banded Preacher Curl involves locking your arm into place on your knee, similar to how you would if performing it on a traditional preacher bench.
- You can’t forget to hit the brachialis if you want to build big biceps with bands and no weights. Hit this muscle best with the Alternating Cross Body Hammer Curls and the Straight Hammer Curl.
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.