Bodyweight Biceps: Train Smarter For Sculpted Arms
What says, “Hey, I like to workout” more than a set of muscular and defined arms? Rather than doing bicep curls on the regular, let’s try something that’ll get you better results in a shorter period of time.
In this two-part series, we will be showing you how to completely transform your biceps.
Coach Christopher Sommer’s elite training strategies can enhance the strength of your biceps through bodyweight bicep training — as well as giving you strength and definition in multiple areas of your body.
The Benefits of Compound Pulling Exercises
When it comes to Gymnastic Strength TrainingTM, the primary goal is to build higher levels of functional strength, mobility, and coordination.
With that said, we prefer to use compound pulling exercises, like pull-ups, to strengthen and condition our athlete’s biceps. Sure, bicep curls are a great option for strengthening your arms as well. But bicep curls won’t lead you to learn muscle-ups down the road. Pull-ups, on the other hand, do.
Doing exercises that work across multiple joints and muscle groups increase your overall work output since you are working various muscle groups synergistically. This is a perfect recipe for increasing muscle size and maximizing strength gains.
As you might have already guessed, the GymnasticBodies system utilizes dozens of multi-joint exercises to increase both pulling power and muscle hypertrophy in your arms, and the inclusion of these was no accident. From pull-ups to rows and everything in between, we have you covered for all your back and arm strengthening needs.
Lean, muscular arms are just a byproduct of Gymnastic Strength Training (no curls necessary).
Take It Nice And Slow With Controlled Negatives
If you really want to get the most from multi-joint exercises like the pull-up, try slowing down the negative.
For the most part, there are three main types of muscle contractions: there’s concentric or muscle shortening, isometric or non-moving, and eccentric – which is the contraction that occurs as a muscle is lengthening. This is the “negative” portion of a movement.
It’s traditionally frowned upon to focus on the negatives. But, when it comes to making those biceps gains, negative reps will be one of the most useful tools for the job. Why? Because the more time you spend in the negative, the more time you spend under tension.
More time under tension means greater increases in bicep strength and total pulling power. That’s because the eccentric (negative) portion of an exercise stimulates your muscles to a greater degree than both concentric and isometric ones.
We recommend making negative pull-ups a mainstay in your upper body workouts.
Higher Reps Lower Resistance for Joint Prep
A common issue many people face when training pull-ups is that they sometimes experience elbow or shoulder pain during or after training. Maybe from doing too much too soon. Often times, this pain comes from insufficient joint preparation in the elbow and shoulder joints.
Regularly performing high repetition workouts with easier bodyweight progressions will help you to condition your joints to withstand just about anything. This type of training facilitates blood flow to promote joint health and recovery and also provides a nice bicep pump.
Add Volume To Your Workouts With Ground Rows
Ground rows are an excellent tool to condition your biceps for more demanding exercises, like pull-ups and eventually, legless rope climbs. Compared to those two exercises, however, ground rows place a relatively low demand on your joints. This gives your muscles and connective tissue ample time to adapt to the stress.
Take a look at our ground row demo below and make sure to read through the key cues below.
- Keep your body tight and straight; Avoid arching or curling your spine throughout the row.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull yourself upwards towards the rings (or bar).
- Extend your elbows fully at the bottom of each rep.
If you are looking to increase your volume over time then you could try something like this:
*Depending on your fitness level, you can do this routine anywhere from 1-3x a week.
Week 1) 3 sets of 5
Week 2) 4 sets of 5
Week 3) 5 sets of 5
After week three, you will have almost doubled the number of ground rows performed. This will bring you that much closer to fitter, more aesthetic arms – with added muscle definition and strength to boot.
These are just a few of MANY tried and true bicep building training techniques you can find within the GymnasticBodies Courses. Stay tuned and make sure to check out Part II on building tricep strength. You’ll have a strong and healthy – not to mention well-defined – upper body in less time than you think.
Be sure to check into Foundation One for the best fitness programs for GymnasticBodies biceps gains – regardless of your age or starting point.