Carve a killer back and build your biceps with this athlete-approved workout.
My name is Amy Updike. I’m an NLA for Her athlete, and today I’m going to take you through one of my back and biceps workouts. This muscle-building workout comprises four sets of each exercise and stays within the “hypertrophy-approved” 8-12-rep range. This is a great workout to incorporate into your training once a week. To notice true muscle-building gains, stick with it for six weeks before switching things up.
Now, let’s get started!
We’re kicking off your workout with these back builders for a reason. When doing pull-ups, challenge yourself. Since you’re fully rested and ready to go, you’ll be able to give these your all. Start by doing as many unassisted pull-ups as you can. Begin with your hands shoulder-width apart, and pull yourself up. Focus on bringing your elbows to your lats and squeezing at the top. When you start to fatigue and feel like you can’t push out even one more rep, grab a resistance band for additional support. Do these until failure.
2. LAT PULL-DOWN
This multijoint exercise works several different muscles in your upper body. I like to place my hands a little bit further than shoulder-width apart, but if a wider grip feels uncomfortable, go narrow. Researchers have found that a wide versus narrow grip doesn’t affect muscle activation. You should, however, make sure you use an overhand (as opposed to an underhand) grip. On the concentric part of the movement, lean back slightly and focus on bringing the bar to your chest to achieve a full range of motion.
3. BENT-OVER BARBELL ROW
Focus on keeping your core very tight as you bend over. Pull the barbell into your belly button with each rep.
4. BENT-OVER DUMBBELL ROW
The key to proper engagement on a bent-over dumbbell row is to keep your core tight as you hinge forward. To get the most out of the movement, pull the dumbbells close to your abdomen and squeeze your shoulder blades at the point of peak contraction.
BENT-OVER DUMBBELL ROW
5. SINGLE-ARM T-BAR ROW
I’m using T-bar rows to work everything from my lats and traps to my shoulder and pulling muscles, including my biceps. Today, I’m working one arm at a time to help strengthen each side individually. If you prefer to train both arms at once, use a close-grip handle to perform this exercise.
6. BARBELL BICEPS CURL
For this exercise, hit your biceps hard using a dropset technique. Start with the heaviest weight you can do for 8-10 reps, and then immediately drop down to the next lighter weight for 8-10 additional reps. Continue “running the ladder” this way. Don’t let weight get in the way of proper form. When you do these, focus on keeping your elbows in and squeezing to isolate your biceps as much as possible.
7. DUMBBELL HAMMER CURL
For the first exercise of this superset, choose a weight that allows you to do 8-10 reps with without compromising your form or swinging your upper body. Keep in mind that you’ll be performing another biceps-focused exercise after this one, with no break in between.
8. ROPE CABLE CURL
For peak contraction, focus on squeezing at the top and bringing your wrists out so that your thumbs are facing forward. During the movement, remember to keep your elbows in and your upper arms stationary.
ROPE CABLE CURL
9. CONCENTRATION CURL
They might be a small movement, but because they’re done with your upper arm pressed against your leg, concentration curls better isolate the biceps, prevent swinging, and activate the biceps more than any other arm exercise. For these, I want you to burn out each arm individually.