Do Push Ups Build Biceps ?

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Do Push Ups Build Biceps ?

Last updated on September 5, 2022

Are you targeting your upper body and looking to tone those biceps? Push-ups are an integral part of most upper body workout routines as they bring strength and stability to your upper body. However, can push-ups alone help you build your biceps? This article will explore the benefits of doing push-ups, whether they can help build your biceps, and other effective ways to build biceps.


Push-ups do not build biceps. Push-ups do work the biceps, but to a minimal extent. The real focus of push-ups is the large muscles at the front of the chest. Push-ups also target the tricep muscles, and when paired with the right exercises, they can help you build bigger arms.


Push-ups can be great for building upper body strength. They can be a consistent part of your overall workout routine, especially if your goals are targeted toward building exceptional upper body strength. Although they cannot help you build biceps directly, they can engage the antagonistic tricep muscles at the back of the arm and strengthen them. Push-ups also add stability and strength to your core and back muscles and allow them to become firmer.

You should also read the article How to Do a Proper Form Push-ups and Other Push-up Variations.

How Can Push Ups Help You Build Bigger Arms?

Although push-ups primarily target chest muscles, they do target your triceps. If you do the right push-up variations and maintain a good frequency paired with complementary exercises, they can help you build bigger and stronger arms.


Here are some steps you can take to build bigger arms by doing push-ups.


1.   Do the right push up variations.

Push-ups are mainly chest exercises. However, they do target your arms. They target the triceps at the back of the arm and the small coracobrachialis muscle on the front of the arm. Again, push-ups can activate your biceps but to a minimal extent. To build the biceps, you need to do more targeted exercises like chin-ups, which we will explore later.


Any form of narrow push-ups like diamond push-ups is great for targeting the arms. You can take the move up by a notch by raising your feet on a higher surface as you would in decline push up.

2.   Do push-ups at least 2-3 times a week.

Push-ups alone will not help you build bigger arms. Sure, they target your triceps but you need other exercises and variations to achieve the best results. However, if you want to focus on push-ups for your arms, you should do these at least 2-3 times a week.


Use a combination of push-up variations and other bodyweight exercises. This will help you shed some excess fat, making your muscles even more visible. If you’re adding weights and doing other arm exercises, it is best not to overwork these muscles too much and alternate with other moves during the week.


3.   Utilize drop sets

You can do drop sets even without weights. They’re possible with bodyweight workouts as well. Here are some steps that can help you create drop sets with push-ups:


  1. Write down the maximum number of push-ups you can do without a pause – this is called your push-up max.
  2. Calculate the 75%, 50%, and 25% of your push-up max. Put these in descending order for one round of your workout.
  3. You can also add some other bodyweight exercises between your push-up sets. Just make sure they don’t work your arms too much.

A related article is 20 Different Push-Up Variations To Build Great Strength.

What are the Benefits and Risks of Doing Push-Ups Every Day?


Are you tempted to do push-ups daily? Let’s look at both the benefits and risks of doing push-ups daily:


Benefits Risks
Increase upper body strength Muscle adaptation to exercise
Stabilize the core muscles Low levels of improvement over time
Stabilize the back muscles Risk of injury due to improper form


You may have bad form if you ever experience pain in your arms, wrists, or back while doing push-ups. Ensure you maintain the correct form and consult a doctor if the pain persists.

Bicep Building Techniques

Now that we know how push-ups can aid in building bigger arms. Our initial question remains, what are some techniques that can target your biceps directly and help you build them?


There are several techniques and exercises that can help you build bigger and better biceps:

1.   Time Under Tension

The longer a muscle is under stress, the more activated the muscle fibers will be. Time under tension refers to the amount of time a muscle group is under pressure. A more extended stress period maximizes hypertrophy. Slower tempo and repetitions can help increase blood flow and the length of muscle contractions.


You may not be able to increase the amount of weight your biceps can take, but you can still work these muscles to the endpoint.

2.   Eccentric Training

The lowering portion of any exercise is involved in eccentric training. For example, when doing a bicep curl, when you put the weight down back to the starting position, lowering occurs. This movement elongates or lengthens the muscle.


The amount of force can be maximized during the exercise’s lowering or eccentric contraction portion. This can be done by elongating the movement to 3 seconds, this can add the required resistance without any additional weights. Slower eccentric contractions paired with heavy weights can work the biceps and make them stronger.

3.   Drop Sets

Drop sets can help you achieve volitional fatigue. This technique involves doing back-to-back sets of an exercise while reducing the amounts of weights being lifted in each set. Weight reduction can help you continue exercising without getting exhausted.


Try this:


  • Set 1 – extra heavy weights x 6-8 reps
  • Set 2 – heavy weights x 8-10 reps
  • Set 3 – moderate weights x 10-12 reps
  • Set 4 – low weights x 12-16 reps


For best results, focus on only four bicep exercises. Pay extra attention to increasing the workout session’s intensity, type, time, and duration.

Exercises That Help Build Biceps Fast


The compound and isolation exercises you will pair together in your workouts will determine how fast you can build biceps. If the goal is to get bigger biceps more quickly, you need to overload them without overtraining and exhausting them.


Biceps are a smaller muscle group, so they can be trained more often during the week. The goal should be to work with them at least 2-3 times a week. It is also beneficial to just focus on four bicep exercises.


You should rest 1-2 days after every bicep workout. Ensure that workouts that include compound back exercises like chin-ups, front raises, and rows are scheduled on separate days. If you’re already on an advanced level, you can pair compound and isolation exercises for better results in a shorter time period.


Let’s look at the four best bicep exercises:


  1. Preacher curls – These help target the brachialis muscles in the lower portion of your biceps
  2. Barbell curls – Barbells can overload the muscle more than a dumbbell can. Use a straight barbell to target the long head of the biceps and a curved barbell to target the short head.
  3. Concentration curls – These provide strength and support to the upper arm area. This helps prevent swinging and the use of other muscle groups.
  4. Zottman curls – It targets both the long and short heads of the biceps. This also includes a reverse curl eccentric rotation.


The best part of utilizing these four exercises is engaging the biceps for overall muscle development. However, you can use other exercises as well. Such as:


  • Diamond push-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Seated overhead tricep extension
  • Tricep dips
  • Standing barbell

You may also want to read best bicep exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   Which push-up variation is the best for biceps?

A single-arm push-up targets your biceps the most, along with the chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles. Align your body in the regular push-up position but use only one arm to complete the exercise.


2.   Are slow push-ups beneficial?

Slow push-ups allow for a technique called time under tension which helps increase the blood flow to the muscles. This contributes to greater muscle mass. Slow push-ups are best for working the chest and tricep muscles.

3.   How many days of rest is required after push-ups?

Your muscles will require a 24-48 hour rest window before you can perform exercises of the exact nature of resistance. They need this time to rest and recover for the next round.

Final Thoughts


Even though push-ups cannot help build your biceps, they can activate the muscles and aid the process. You should still incorporate them as a part of your workout routine to add extra stability to your upper body. This stability and strength will aid you in achieving better results with other bicep-building exercises.

Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

About the author  Steve

Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

Your Signature