Strengthen your biceps for better functional movement and fewer injuries.
Working on your biceps isn’t just about filling out your t-shirt or looking good in a tank top. Strong biceps, the two-headed muscles that stretch from the shoulder to the elbow on the front of each arm, will help you perform everyday, functional movements with more ease.
“If you want to be able to lift your kid into a car seat, pick up a heavy bag of groceries, or climb a ladder to get onto your roof and clean the gutters, you need to have biceps strength,” says Jenna Moore, a certified strength and conditioning coach and Programming Specialist at Tonal.
By training your biceps, you’re also strengthening the connective tissue and tendons linking the muscle to the shoulder and elbow joints on either end. Therefore, as Moore points out, stronger biceps can help prevent common injuries in the rotator cuff or elbow.
To boost your biceps strength, prevent injury—and, yes, feel good in those t-shirts and tanks—try one of the at-home biceps workouts below.
Bodyweight At-Home Biceps Workout
It’s surprisingly difficult to train your biceps with just your body weight if you don’t have any equipment
“Biceps are a pulling muscle,” says Moore. “It’s easy to push things with your body weight, but you can’t really pull too much with just your arms. “These muscles are harder to hit from a bodyweight perspective because you need to be able to lift something.”
There are some bodyweight exercises that work other muscle groups but also hit the biceps, like the crawl variation below. Try these two moves to get a quick biceps workout in without any equipment.
Static Isometric Hold
Why it Works: Moore explains that this simple exercise draws its inspiration from physical therapy, but it’s still beneficial even if you’re not recovering from an injury. The isometric hold also challenges your muscles in a way you might not be used to. “You’re not getting a full range of motion there, but it is a way to contract the biceps without having to have any equipment,” she says. “We like to train muscles eccentrically, concentrically, and isometrically when possible. Having a balance of training in a variety of ways is important.”
How to Do it: Bend your elbow to 90 degrees with your palm facing up. With your opposite hand, push down on the hand of the bent arm while also pushing up to create resistance. Hold for five seconds and repeat.
Why it Works: While this move primarily targets your core and chest, there is an element of biceps work to it as well as you’re using your arms to push yourself off the ground with each crawl movement.
How to Do It: Get onto all fours on your mat. On one side, bring your knee to meet your elbow, keeping the opposite limbs slightly extended in front of and behind you. Switch sides and drive your knee to your elbow to crawl forward, moving the opposite arm forward as well. Alternate sides. Stay low like you’re crawling up a wall. Once you get to the end of your mat, reverse the movement to move backward.
At-Home Biceps Workout with Resistance
If you really want to elevate your at-home biceps workout, you’ll need to add resistance. If you don’t own weights, you can use heavy objects—like jugs of laundry detergent—that you might have around the house. With those household objects, you can do moves in the section below, such as the standing or seated biceps curl, for 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps each.
Several on-Tonal exercises target the biceps in different positions. “When we’re looking for hypertrophy, we want to hit a muscle in its lengthened position and its shortened position,” says Josh Clay, a certified strength and conditioning coach and Programming Specialist at Tonal.
To ensure you’re hitting the biceps from both angles, Clay recommends pairing the lying face curl below, which works the biceps in the shortened position, with one of the following three exercises, all of which work the biceps in the lengthened position.
Do three sets of each with a descending rep scheme of 15, 10, and then 6 reps, to expose your muscles to a variety of rep ranges and levels of resistance. Varying the weight and rep count trains your muscles for strength, power, and endurance.
Lying Face Curl
Why it Works: Unlike the traditional biceps curl, this exercise works the short head of the muscle which you otherwise might not train. Strengthening the muscle in this position will help you lift more in other biceps exercises.
How to Do it: Take a handle in each hand and lie on the bench with your head toward Tonal. Your face should be positioned underneath the end of the arms. Start with your arms fully extended above your chest, palms facing toward Tonal, then flex your elbows, bringing your hands toward your shoulders. Imagine you’re cracking a walnut with your biceps and forearms. Extend your elbows to return to the starting position and repeat.
Lying Biceps Curl
Why it Works: This move is especially effective at isolating the biceps. “You can use the ground as a hinge point, so you can create more force and more torque at the elbow joint,” says Clay.
How to Do it: Lie on the floor facing up with your feet in between Tonal’s arms. Pretending your upper arms are glued to the floor so they can’t lift, pull the handles toward your shoulders, flexing at the elbows. Slowly lower back to start and repeat.
Why it Works: It’s a classic for a reason: This exercise emphasizes the concentric contraction of the biceps for building bigger, stronger arms.
How to Do it: Holding the handles, stand tall with arms extended by your hips. Flex the elbows to bring your palms toward your armpits. Extend the elbows to bring your hands back to your hips and repeat.
Seated Biceps Curl
Why it Works: By performing the curl from a stable, seated base, you’ll be better able to isolate the biceps and prevent other muscle groups from assisting your lift.
How to Do it: Flex the elbows to bring your palms toward your armpits. Extend the elbows to bring your hands back to your hips and repeat.
Biceps Workouts on Tonal
To build your biceps on Tonal, create a Custom Workout with the moves above or simply tap on one of the coach-led workouts below for an arms-focused session. As with any Tonal workout, you’ll get personalized weight suggestions and progress tracking for every rep and set.
Quick Fit: Bis and Tris – Coach Kendall Wood
Get a full arm workout in just 15 minutes with this circuit-style session. You’ll run through four exercises focusing on the upper body.
Quick Fit: Straight Up Arms – Coach Pablo Escobar
This short workout is all about the arms. You’ll work your biceps and triceps on- and off-Tonal, building muscle quickly and efficiently.
Beginner Back and Biceps – Coach Nicolette Amarillas
If you’re new to working your upper body, Coach Nicolette will guide you through some basic back and biceps lifts in this session.
Magnificent Shoulders + Arms – Coach Tony Horton
You’ll find two variations of the biceps curl in this workout, along with other moves that’ll challenge your shoulders and triceps.