Can Pullups Get Your Biceps Bigger?

Man doing pull-ups

Having strong arms offers many benefits. Lifting, pulling and pushing during day-to-day activities is much easier if you have them. They also make exercise easier. Your biceps are the muscles on top of your upper arms. Adding pullups to your strength training routine is a healthy way to increase your bicep size when combined with other arm moves. A traditional pullup targets your lats, though they also work your biceps, but a variation called a parallel bar pullup works your biceps to a greater degree.


If you don't do pullups properly, they aren't going to do much for your biceps. To do a pullup, grip the pullup bar with your palms facing forward and your knees bent so your legs are hanging. Pull upward with your arms and back and bring your chest to bar level. The rest of your body should remain still. Hold the pullup for a second or two and then slowly lower your body to the starting position to finish one pullup. To do a parallel bar pullup, grasp both bars on the parallel bar machine, with your hands facing each other. Pull your body upward, and then lower to finish one pullup. This variation makes your biceps work harder than a traditional pullup.

Sets and Repetitions

If you only do a few pullups now and then, your biceps probably won't respond in a significant way. Including them in each of your upper-body strength-training sessions contributes to muscle growth. recommends doing at least one set of 12 repetitions of each move in your routine. At this rate, you'll notice results in a few weeks. Build your routine as you get stronger. Work your way to three sets of 12 to 15 pullups.


To keep your progress on track, you can't just stick with the same pullup routine. Once you can do several sets of pullups, there are several ways to keep progressing toward bigger biceps. Place a weight belt around your waist with weight plates hooked onto it. This increases your total body weight, making pullups more beneficial for your upper arms. You can also do one-arm pullups, which maximizes the benefits of each one specifically. Move your arms closer together or farther apart during pullups to challenge your biceps in different ways.


Despite the bicep benefits of pullups, they primarily target your lats. To get bigger biceps, combine pullups with other exercises that work your biceps. Bicep curls, barbell bent-over rows and rows using dumbbells or resistance bands provide additional muscle-building benefits in your upper arms. Take a day of rest between each upper-body strength-training session. This allows your biceps time to repair and recover, which is when gains in mass occur.