To build big biceps at home, you have to start by doing the right exercises. Doing things like the biceps pushup is not going to help you in your pursuit of bigger biceps. In this video, I show you exactly why by breaking down the movement and showcasing the lack of true biceps function in the increasingly popular calisthenics exercise.
To begin with, it is imperative to understand that a muscle is built through overloaded tension and resistance. In the case of the biceps pushup, this is sorely lacking. As a matter of fact, the only muscle group getting the necessary applied tension and overload is the one on the opposite side of the joint – the triceps.
If you break down any pushup movement you will see that the work is being done to overcome the flexed elbow position to get your elbow into an extended or straightened position. This is crucial to understand. Overcoming a resistance to elbow extension is a accomplished by the triceps not the biceps. It doesn’t matter that your elbow is in a flexed position at the bottom of the home exercise. That is happening for free. The downward force of gravity is going to drive your body down flat to the ground without any extra help from your muscles.
So it helps to break down the real function of the biceps to better understand what is happening here. First, and most important, the biceps muscle has the ability to flex or bend the elbow (bring the hand closer to the shoulder by bending the elbow joint). As mentioned, while this bent position is achieved at the bottom of the biceps pushup you are not actively working to get into this position. Your body is simply dropping to the floor and giving into the force of gravity to get here, diminishing any work being done by the biceps.
Second, the biceps has the ability to supinate the forearm. Once again, while the forearm is in a position of supination (facing forward) at the bottom of the exercise it doesn’t mean that it was actively contracted to get into that position. As a matter of fact, you are actually locking your forearm into this forward facing position by placing your hands on the ground, further negating any active contraction of the biceps to keep you there.
Third, the biceps are capable of weak shoulder flexion. This is the only element of the three that might even remotely be taking place in this biceps home exercise variation. That said, even here however you are not flexing the shoulder to shoulder level at all but simply taking it from a position of great extension behind the body to one in less extension (thereby flexing it somewhat to get to the finish position). Nonetheless, the amount of biceps contraction that contributes to this is minimal at best.
The only thing the biceps can contribute, however minimally, is to the stability of the body during this home exercise. If you think about it, the tendency would be for the body to lose balance and tilt forward at either the top or bottom of the movement. This is because the hands are placed back towards the hips, shifting the center of gravity backwards and creating the tendency to be off balance to the front.
What the biceps would do here is simply try and contract to pull your body backwards and rebalance the center of mass. The problem again however is that the biceps cannot do this since the hands are unable to move or slide on the ground, meaning that there is no active shortening of the elbow. Once again this minimizes any real significance of the muscle.
If you are trying to build big biceps at home you need to look elsewhere. The first place you can look is to other bodyweight exercises for biceps if you lack any equipment. There are a few to pick from. The key element to all of them however is that they resist elbow flexion not extension. Realize that all of these, while options, are decent but inferior to things you can do with a pull-up bar.
With a pull-up bar, things like chinups, weighted chinups, eccentric chins, biceps chin curls and even one armed chinups are exercises that can be done to build big biceps without ever needing to step foot in a gym. The key is understanding what it is you are trying to accomplish with the home exercises that you are using and that is when all new arm gains and big biceps can be achieved.
If you are looking for a complete program that requires no equipment at all and uses just your own bodyweight for the resistance, head to athleanx.com and check out the ATHLEAN XERO program. You can see first hand just how quickly you can build muscle at home with home workouts by training like an athlete for just 6 weeks. Visit the link below to check it out.
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