Push Ups For Biceps - Why They SUCK | What To Do Instead
If you are trying to use push ups for biceps growth, think again.
I’m going to save you a lot of time and energy by telling you that using push ups to build your biceps is futile.
Even if you are in solitary confinement, there are better ways to build your biceps than with biceps push ups.
In this article we’re going to talk about:
- Why People Want To Perform biceps push ups
- How to perform biceps push ups
- Why Biceps Push Ups Suck an you shouldn’t waste your time doing them
- What you should do instead of biceps push ups for massive arm growth
Why People Want To Perform "Biceps Push Ups"
Romanticizing about exercise modalities is a huge problem in the calisthenics community.
The bodyweight calisthenics community is passionate about their exercise methodology.
But pure bodyweight calisthenics is sub-par when it comes to building total body muscle and strength.
Yet, many bodyweight calisthenics enthusiasts continue to claim otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, calisthenics exercises can be extremely effective when it comes to building muscle and strength.
Pull ups, dips, squats, hyper-extensions, etc are all effective mass builders. What’s more is that they can all be done weighted.
And weighted calisthenics exercises are the best when it comes to building mass and brute force, not their bodyweight counterparts.
Again, romanticization of exercise modalities is lunacy, hoping to get an effective biceps workout when performing push ups is the same.
I was guilty of it too; I wanted bodyweight calisthenics to do everything for me.
Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way.
Read more about my definition of calisthenics: What Is Calisthenics
Want to know which I think is better and why: Calisthenics Vs. Weights
Check out my article on: The Best Calisthenics Exercises
Want to know more on: How To Build Muscle With Calisthenics
Why Push Ups For Your Biceps SUCK!
Now that you know the truth that there are far more exercises that can build your biceps bigger and faster than any amount of biceps push ups ever could.
Let’s get down to why doing push ups for biceps suck.
Even though there are plenty of exercises that you can build your biceps with; only a few of them are worth your time.
When it comes to the biceps, isolation movements like the biceps curl are best.
Unfortunately when it comes to calisthenics (bodyweight or otherwise), there aren’t many isolation movements.
This means that when it comes to calisthenics, the best exercises are the ones that:
- Work the maximum number of muscle groups through their effective ranges of motion.
- Place the maximum amount of stress on the muscles.
Multi-joint calisthenics exercises have several benefits like:
- Working two (or more) muscle groups with just one movement.
- Place more stress on the muscles due to larger loads being carried.
- Have massive carryover to day-to-day activates and make you generally stronger overall.
Push ups are multi-joint exercise that can put an incredible amount of muscle mass on your upper body. They work the muscles of the chest shoulders and triceps.
Check out my article on: Incline Push Ups to know the best way to blow up your chest, shoulders and triceps with this exercise.
Push ups don’t build the biceps, even if you perform “biceps push ups”.
This is because:
Even though supinated grip push ups take the biceps through an effective range of motion, the stress on the biceps is minimal at bet.
The biceps only plays a supporting role in this push up variation since a majority of the stress is places on the chest, shoulders and triceps instead.
The biceps only need to support elbow flexion and since there are barely any forces acting in the line of pull, the biceps barely get any stimulation during these push ups.
But, supinated grip push ups, also called pseudo planche push ups are an advanced variation of push ups.
These push ups do have their place in building size and strength in the planche, but they aren’t particularly known for building the biceps.
Read more in my article about: Push Up Progressions – a GUIDE to advanced push up variations.
So then which calisthenics exercises build the biceps the best?
Now, we’re asking the right questions!
The Best Calisthenics Biceps Building Exercises
If you’re looking to build your biceps using calisthenics then there is no shortage of biceps exercises out there.
In my opinion, the best calisthenics biceps movement is the chin up.
Chin ups are done with the palms facing toward you. You can work your biceps extremely well when performing different variations of pull ups.
All variations of pull ups recruit the biceps to varying degrees.
If you cannot perform pull ups, then you can use the inverted row. Doing inverted rows with your palms facing toward you can build huge biceps.
If you have a pair of gymnastics rings (check these out on Amazon if you don’t) then biceps curls can be done using your bodyweight.
You can even perform single handed ring curls.
In fact, you can even perform hammer grip or prone grip ring curls for more variation.
One of the hardest variations of biceps exercises when it comes to bodyweight training are pelican curls.
They can be made extremely hard by changing leverages, but be careful as they can be devastating on the shoulder joint if not done correctly.
How To Perform Push Ups For Your Biceps
Now that I’ve convinced you that you can work on your biceps no matter what, let me explain how the bicep push up works.
If you have limited wrist mobility, then note that this variation of the push up can place a lot of stress on the wrist joint.
This is because, in order to recruit more biceps activation, this push up variation requires supination of the wrists.
Your wrists are said to be supinated when your palms are facing toward you.
Wrist supination is a function of the biceps.
Placing the palms this way in the push up; forces the biceps to recruit additional muscle fibers for stabilization at the elbow joint, thereby increasing its activation during this exercise.
Unfortunately, this makes the push up extremely hard to perform and places a lot of stress on the wrist joint.
It is also an inferior way to build the biceps (but I’ve beaten that point to a pulp by now).
To perform push ups for the biceps:
Place your palms in a supinated position on the floor. This means that your fingers are pointed backwards, towards your feet.
From here, lower your body till your chest almost touches the floor and push back up, just like a regular push up.
But, please don’t do this movement for your biceps, your chest shoulders and triceps will get all the work and your poor biceps will continue to lag behind.
Doing push ups for your biceps a total waste of your time.
Pull ups, ring curls, pelican curls, head bangers and their variants are your go to movements when it comes to calisthenics.
If you’re not into calisthenics, pick up a rock and do some curls instead, although I’ve heard that barbells work best!