From leg exercises like squats and lunges to core moves to bajillions of pushup variations, there are plenty of at-home workouts for you to choose from these days. But at-home biceps moves? No, there aren’t many of those.
There’s a reason for that. If you really want to slam your biceps in isolated, arm-pumping fashion, you need to load them. Typically that involves dumbbells, which not everyone has in their home. But even if you don’t have dumbbells, you can still train and pummel your guns, says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “Right now, we all need to rethink what it means to ‘load’,” he says. “A load doesn’t just need to be dumbbells or kettlebells.”
You’ll learn that during this Iso-to-Reps Biceps Mayhem. Yes, it can be done with dumbbells, if you have a pair at home. But it can also be done with something else: A pair of towels and a few gallon water jugs. Wrap the towel around the water jug handles to create the load, and then grasp the towels, challenging your forearms and pushing your biceps to the limit more than you may expect. “It’s actually harder if you don’t use dumbbells,” says Samuel, “because the placement of the loads will make it harder to supinate your forearms properly; you’ll have to earn that more, torquing and challenging your biceps more.”
It’ll actually make you better when you go back to curling dumbbells, Samuel says. “You have to work harder to supinate with even just two water jugs, which equals about 16 pounds,” says Samuel. “If you’re pushing to really rotate your palms upwards, you’ll find it easier to rotate with, say, 25-pound dumbbells.”
Iso-to-reps Mayhem adds more than a mere curl to your biceps, bringing dropset action to the movement to coax every ounce of energy from your guns on every set. You start in an iso hold, focusing on supinating, then do biceps curl reps, again focusing on supinating. Once all that’s done, you eliminate the need to supinate and start in a hammer curl iso-hold, forearms parallel to the ground, then do hammer curl reps. “These hammer curl reps are much easier, especially if you’re using water jugs,” says Samuel, “but they won’t feel that way because you’re fatigued by then by time-under-tension.”
All you need is something from around the house and a pair of towels. Or dumbbells. You definitely have that first thing, too.
- Start standing, holding either dumbbells or water jugs wrapped in your towels at your sides.
- Curl up until your forearms are parallel with the ground, focusing on rotating your palms so they face the ceiling. Hold for 8 seconds.
- Do 8 biceps curl reps, continuing to focus hard on rotating your palms so they face the ceiling.
- Let your palms face each other. Curl up until your forearms are parallel to the ground. Pause and hold for 8 seconds.
- Do 8 hammer curl reps.
- That’s 1 set. Rest 45 seconds. Do 3 sets.
ISo-hold To Reps Biceps Mayhem works well in a variety of contexts. You can easily use it as a super-quick biceps workout if you’re stuck at home with no gear. But you can also use it to cap off a more aggressive and vicious biceps workout too. “This is a great third biceps exercise in a full-fledged arm blast,” says Samuel, “really finishing off your arms.” It can also work as the biceps portion of a pull workout that included plenty of back work.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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