bicep push ups

Bicep Push Ups: Variations, How to and More

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By definition, pushups are exercises that are performed with your body in a prone position and supported by straightened hands. Your palms face down and are placed apart (shoulder-width apart).

Lower your body slowly until your chest is an inch above the floor and then push up to the starting position. While lowering your body in a slow and controlled pace is challenging, pushing up to the starting position is even much harder.

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Do push ups work biceps? Yes, this exercise can work your biceps. However, not all pushups variations can work your biceps, some work triceps only. There are specific techniques that make this exercise work biceps.

Even though regular push ups will mostly work your triceps, there are superb variations designed to precisely target your biceps. In this article you’ll get an in-depth understanding of this workout, the muscles worked, biceps pushup variations, and common mistakes to avoid when doing bicep push ups.

Understanding Your Biceps

understanding biceps

Biceps are the muscles located at the front part of your forearm. They always pop up proudly when you bend your elbow and try to flex a bit. Big or small, we all have these muscles. They are called Biceps because they present in a pair.

Biceps comprises of a short head and long head pair of muscles entwined together.

These muscles are referred to as the “pull” muscles. This is because biceps are fully engaged in pulling activities as compared to pushing activities where the triceps do most of the work. It is for this reason that we have to perform specific biceps push ups to accurately target these muscles with a higher intensity.

How do push ups work biceps?

For a push up to recruit the biceps effectively, you need to go for a variation that tends to twist these muscles as you perform bicep push ups. Also you should aim at bending your arms more to build extra pressure on the biceps.

One good way of achieving this is by placing your hands closer together than in the standard push ups.

For the experienced athletes, one hand push up is a great alternative. Do not attempt this variation if you are not strong or have little experience in it. It demands shear strength all the way. You may need to consult your gym instructor if you are doing it for the first time.

Bicep Push ups Variations

bicep push ups variations

The main purpose of biceps push ups it to exert more pressure on the biceps than it is in the standard pushups. They are not for the weak arm. Pushups for biceps can be defined as extreme variations. If you are a beginner, we recommend you do it under a trainer.

One-arm Push Up

Can you trust only one arm to support all your body weight in a prone position?  If yes, then this is the exercise for you. This push up variation increases intensity on your biceps because you are only using one arm to perform the push ups. This works your biceps with high intensity.

How to do a one hand pushup:

Step 1: Get into the standard push up position with your legs shoulder with apart.

Step 2: Place your right hand on the floor aim t the center of your chest and lift your left arm and place it on your lower back. Make sure to balance your body weight on your right arm.

Step 3: Slowly lower your body down until your chest muscles are at about 5 inches above the floor. Note that you may not be able to go as low as you would have done in standard pushups.

Step 4: Pause and push up back to the starting position. Don’t go for more than 10 repetitions per set.

Here is a video on the one arm push up

Inside Push ups 

 This is yet another electrifying biceps push-ups variation. It uses the twist technique to curl and work your biceps much harder than normal push ups do. Exercises that involve curling and twisting your arms under pressure are excellent in activating your biceps muscles. This is because of the intertwining nature of your biceps muscles.

How to do inside pushups

Step 1: Assume the prone position of the standard push ups with a straight body from neck to heels.

Step 2: Move your hands on the floor so that they are at your torso.

Step 3: Turn your palms to reverse so that your fingers are the floor pointing to your feet.

Step 4: Lower your body steadily until your chest is about 5 inches above the floor. For beginners, only go as far as you can be comfortable.

Step 5: Push up to the original position. Pause and for another rep aiming at three sets of ten repetitions each.

Close-Stance Push up Variation

 This simply calls for bringing your hands to close together on the floor as if to touch each other directly under your chest. This angle allows your arms to bend more and this results in maximizing pressure on your biceps.

How to do close stance pushups

Step 1: Get in the normal push ups prone position

Step 2: Move your hands closer together at about 10 inches apart.

Step 3: Steadily lower your upper body until your chest is slightly above the floor.

Step 4: Pushups back to the starting position. Aim at performing 3 sets of 12 repetitions each.

Push ups: All Muscles Worked

muscles worked pushups

  • Pectorals

 Here we are talking about the muscles of your chest. Whichever the variation of this workout you perform, your chest muscles are always get targeted. If anything push ups are more of a chest workout than any other muscles on the body. Regularly doing this exercise will leave you with well-built and isolated pectorals.

  • Deltoids

 Shoulder muscles are also fairly activated as you perform a pushup. You can target them from the front and back angles depending on the variation. Your deltoids are fully engaged at all stages of a push up. Do not attempt to do a push up when you have a shoulder injury. Pushups put much pressure on the shoulders and they may worsen an injury.

  • Arm Muscles

The major forearm muscles that are worked are the triceps and biceps. While most variations will work your triceps, a select few are designed to target your biceps muscles. Biceps muscles are one of the hardest arm muscles to target doing bicep push ups. You need to execute the exercise perfectly if you have to hit them.

  • Abs and Obliques

 You will not be able to maintain a proper straight body in push ups if your core muscles are not working hard enough. This workout recruits your abs, internal and external obliques to help maintain a proper form.

  • Lower back And Glutes

 In the process of executing this exercise, your glutes and lower back muscles tighten to complement the effort of your core. They assist in maintaining a straight position. The lower back muscles are activated to ensure it supports the spine in a neutral position.

Related: How to get 10 pack abs by working out smart

8 Common Push ups Mistakes to Avoid

mistakes to avoid

  • Wrong Hand Placement

 For a push up to be wrong or right, it’s all determined by how you place your hands. Your hand placement determines where the pressure is directed. For example, placing your hands too wide and forward will direct too much pressure to your shoulders. This will not allow you to perform full bicep push ups and may also lead to injury.

Wrong hand placement will also make you have flared elbows. It is recommended that you always place your arms in a position that keeps your elbows pointing back at an almost 600 angle. Don’t flare your elbows to your sides at 90 degrees.

  • Incomplete Range of Motion

The incomplete motion range directly translates to incomplete muscle recruitment. This is a common mistake while doing other type of exercises. People don’t lower their chest as slowly as it is needed to fully engage the target muscles. Truth is, those short-range pulses will do you no good.

  • Curving your Lower Back

 A sagging lower back is yet another costly mistake that is commonly committed during push ups. This happens when you fail to engage your core muscles to hold your trunk into a neutral position. For beginners, you may consider starting with incline push ups as you gradually build core strength.

  • Dropped or Raised Head

Remember, you cannot maintain a straight spine with a bent neck. Most people will raise or lower their heads at different points when the going gets tough. Don’t do it. This will disorient the spinal alignment. Instead, keep your head in a neutral position and your eyes on the ground.

  • Pumping Too Fast

 Some people get fascinated by how fast they can perform a certain number of push ups, I’m looking at you newbies. Stop! You are missing the point here. You see, these exercises are not a speed drill. What is the hurry for? Focus on maintaining slow and controlled movements that put your muscles under steady and consistent pressure. This is how you achieve the best from push ups.

  • Raising Your Hips

 Performing this exercise with your hips pushed up is a way of cheating. Doing so will reduce the intensity of the exercise by not engaging your core muscles fully. It is of a disadvantage to you because you will not be fully working your core and glutes properly.

  • Holding your Breath

 Another common mistake made is holding your breath.  Master the art of controlling your breathing patterns without necessarily having to hold it.   Your muscles need a consistent supply of oxygen to power them in this intense activity. You should therefore train to inhale slowly as you go low and exhale as you push up. This ensures continuous oxygen supply.

  • Not Engaging Your Core, Deltoids, and Glutes

 These muscles are usually underrated when it comes to push ups. Some athletes are not keen to tighten and engage these muscle groups. They are very critical in helping us maintain the form of a proper push up. Failure to engage them will result in sagging lower back, unstable shoulders, and poor hip positioning. Push ups done in the wrong posture may result in pains and injuries.

Push ups Possible Injury Risks

injury risks

Like all other exercises, this exercise and its variations are beneficial to your body. They ensure a healthy and strong physique. However, by performing them in the wrong way you risk several injuries.

  • Shoulders

Your rotator cuff plays a pivotal role in a pushup. It is impossible to do this exercise if your rotator cuff is rigid. They are therefore exposed to the risk of injury if you worked them in a wrong angle or put them under too much pressure. Proper form is key.

  • Back Injuries

Your entire backline is at risk of injury throughout the exercise. Failure to engage your core muscles to maintain a proper form will result in sagging of the lower back which will cause you some pain eventually. The spine should also be kept as straight as possible so that the pressure is well distributed.

  • Elbow and Wrist Injuries

 Bicep push ups place most of their force on these two joints. Any inappropriate motion or Positioning of your hands will result in injuring your elbow and wrist. Make sure to be in proper form and also train on a flat and steady floor. This ensures that the weight is proportional to all both elbows and wrists.


What muscles do muscles push ups work? 

Yes, done right this exercise will work your biceps. There are specific variations that are designed to help you target your biceps with high precision. Biceps are recruited in pulling activities as opposed to pushing.  This is the reason that makes many push ups variations not effective in working your biceps.

Are bicep push ups bad? 

Bicep pushups, when done right will help in bulking your arms. But, when done wrong can result to injury. Ensure to take up proper form while performing this exercise.

Will 100 push ups a day build muscle? 

As any form of exercise, pushups burn calories and build muscles. A 100 pushups a day will work your biceps, triceps and back muscles.