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Achieve impressive arms with pull-ups.
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Dumbbells, barbells and machines might be the first things that spring to mind when you think about building big biceps. Performing biceps curls with these pieces of equipment can certainly boost biceps growth, but you don't need lots of equipment to build impressive biceps. In fact, a pull-up bar can be all you need to build big biceps naturally.
Pull-Up Bar Basics
The two most common exercise variations performed on a pull-up bar are pull-ups and chin-ups. These moves are very similar -- both starting with you hanging straight down from the bar and pulling yourself up until your shoulders are in line with the bar, but there is a difference in hand positioning. Pull-ups are performed with your hands facing away from you and with your grip a little wider than shoulder width, while chin-ups use a supinated grip, with your palms facing you, which requires a slightly narrower grip.
Pull-Up Bar Mastery
Once you've got to grips with regular pull-ups and chin-ups, try out some more advanced variations. Strength coach Ben Bruno recommends weighted chin-ups and pull-ups using weight added to a dip belt, or 1.5 rep chin-ups, where you pull yourself all the way up, go down halfway, back up again, then down all the way for one rep. A weighted vest can also make chin-ups and pull-ups harder, as can taking five to six seconds over the lowering phase, or challenging your biceps even more by wrapping a towel around the bar to thicken the diameter.
Beginner Biceps Building
If you're struggling with normal chin-ups and pull-ups, it doesn't mean you've got to put your big biceps quest on the back burner. Instead of toiling away with body-weight reps, try slow negatives instead. Stand on a chair or box so your shoulders are level with the bar, grab the bar tight, lift your feet up and lower yourself as slowly as possible while squeezing your biceps. You can also try out assisted reps, using a resistance band wrapped around the bar and under your feet, or ask a training partner to give you a small boost around your waist on every rep so you're not having to lift all your body-weight on your own.
Nutrition and the Waiting Game
A pull-up bar is a potential biceps-building extraordinaire, but to pack mass onto your arms, you also need to eat right. To do this, the team at Precision Nutrition recommend increasing your calorie intake, eating regularly, and making mass-building shakes, composed of fruits, vegetables, protein powder and nuts to drink between meals. As for building your biceps fast, gaining muscle requires commitment; your arms won't grow big over night. Keep striving to get better at pull-up bar exercises and eat more if you're not growing.