Training you back and biceps together is something very common in today’s bodybuilding training routines. And, to be honest, it’s not for nothing done by the best bodybuilders on the planet.
If you want to be the best you, you first need to learn from the professionals and adjust from there.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an advanced lifter. You need a good workout routine to optimize your muscle gains. You can lift all you want, but if your routine isn’t right, you will waste your time.
In this back and bicep workout guide, we will show you the best routines to gain back and bicep muscle. After reading this article, you will know everything about a good workout routine and how to use this at your advantage.
Table of Contents
Why you should train back and biceps together
Training both your biceps and back at the same time makes perfect sense in terms of a good workout routine. In bodybuilding, the back is one of the most if not the most important muscle groups.
As many guru’s claims: ‘Bodybuilding shows are won from the back.’
Therefore it’s essential to dedicate one workout entirely to your back. Most workout routines are divided into chest and triceps, legs and calves, back and biceps, and shoulders.
When training your back muscles, you will notice that most exercises will also require bicep movement. Indirect, you are training your biceps while working out your back. You are, of course, not targeting your biceps directly, but you get the point.
Most bodybuilders prefer to do a couple of bicep exercises after their back workout because they are already fatigued. This means you will only need to do a couple of compound exercises to finish your biceps off.
The biceps brachii muscle is tiny in comparison to the back muscle. It would not need the same volume and exercises to get the same stimulants.
Some people like to train their triceps with their back workouts. Training back and triceps together is, of course, personal opinion, but for efficiency sake, I would recommend training biceps with your back day.
Back And Bicep Anatomy Explained
Before we go into the actual exercises, you must know how the back and bicep muscles are formed.
If you know how the muscle looks like, you will also have a better ‘mind-muscle’ connection. Having an excellent mind-muscle connection will lead to optimal muscle contraction and muscle mass.
Back Muscle Anatomy
The back muscle can be divided into four separate muscle groups. In the workout routine, you will see that we will target all different muscle groups.
The Latissimus Dorsi
These are also known as the ‘lats’ or ‘wings’ in bodybuilding terms. Many bodybuilders like to have the lats as wide as possible.
A mandatory bodybuilding pose is the lat spread which showcases the wide lats.
Rhomboid / Teres Major
These are both upper back muscles that are located at the end of the shoulders and are very important when pulling.
The Teres Major is closely connected to the rear deltoid muscle and is often a forgotten muscle in terms of training.
The trapezius is located at the upper and middle back and continues up to the neck. It has three significant areas in the back muscle. The upper part, middle and lower parts are all essential for moving and stabilize the scapula.
Bicep Muscle Anatomy
The bicep is located at the top of your arm and is connected to the shoulder and the triceps. Just like the back muscle, does it consists of multiple parts with different functions.
The Bicep Muscle consists of the following parts:
- Biceps brachii
The most important thing to know is that the brachialis lies on the outer side of the arm. In the image below, you will see that the brachioradialis muscle group is firmly attached to the bicep and is also activated when tracking back and biceps.
The Best Back Exercises For Mass
1. Lat Pulldown
We will start off the back workout with a lat pulldown focussing on the Latissimus Dorsi aka the lats.
It’s a very good starting exercise since you can start with low weights and get a good warmup of your back, arms and shoulders.
When performing the lat pulldown, you mustn’t lean back too much. You should try to keep your back straight with slightly leaning back. Get a good stretch on your lats at the top and pull the bar down to your chest.
You will notice that the focus of this exercise is on the lats and a small part of the Rhomboids.
Most gyms have a standard lat pulldown. However, you could also do the same exercise on a specific machine, as seen below.
This is essentially the same exercise; however, the machine is believed to be more ‘safe’ for injuries since it’s a solid movement.
Pro’s and Cons
2. Barbell or Dumbbell Row
After we are done with the lat pulldown, we will move on to a ‘rowing’ exercise. This exercise is focussed on the whole back and requires a lot of strength to perform.
You can perform this rowing exercise with either the barbell or the dumbbells. It depends on what you prefer since the barbell is experienced less stressful on the spine.
When performing this rowing exercise, it’s essential that you lean slightly forward, get a good stretch at the bottom, and pull the barbell to your belly.
If you notice that the weight is too heavy, please lower the weight and try again. This exercise can cause a lot of stress on the lower spine, so be careful when performing this to heavy.
The barbell row is one of the best back muscle builders available. It was Dorian Yates, his favorite exercise for building a thick back.
And we all know that Dorian Yates had the best bodybuilding back in history.
If you are experiencing any pain in the lower back when performing the barbell row, you could use the dumbbells and a simple bench.
That way, you will stress the lower not as much, and you can still perform the same movement.
The main difference between the barbell and dumbbell is that your wrists are rotated differently. As you can see in the image, this will put more focus on the lats.
Pro’s and Cons
3. Seated Row Machine/Cable
The next exercise is another rowing movement, which is focussed on the middle back, trapezius, and some rhomboids. With this exercise, you will also activate some rear deltoid movement as well.
You could perform this exercise with either a specific row machine or with a seated cable machine.
When performing this exercise, you must sit straight up and have a hollow back. Make sure to get a good stretch and pull the machine to your chest. You must squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard as you can.
You can also choose to do this exercise with one arm at the time. Some people prefer this to get a good mind-muscle connection.
As you will see on the image below, this alternate row option will put more focus on the lats.
Pro’s and Cons
4. Close Grip Lat Pulldown
So, right now, we did one pull and 2-row exercises, and now we are going to do another pull exercise, which is the close grip pulldown.
This exercise works the same as the lat pulldown we did earlier, however as you might already suspect, it’s with a close grip.
This exercise will result in more focus on the lower lats and will give you an amazing stretch and squeeze at the bottom.
When performing the close grip lat pulldown, you need to lean back slightly when you squeeze your muscles at the bottom. When you come up, you need to feel a stretch on your lats.
I like to do this exercise at the end of the workout because it gives me a fantastic pump and stretch on the lats for optimal blood flow.
Pro’s and Cons
5. Cable or Dumbbell Pullover
This is the last back exercise of this workout routine. The cable pullover is focussed on the lats and for getting a fantastic pump at the end of the workout.
By now, your back will most likely be fatigued, and that’s why we do this exercise since it’s not a heavy exercise but more a pump and stretch movement.
When performing this exercise, you must focus on the lats and get a good stretch at the top. You may activate your triceps a little bit, but this is normal. Try to keep the focus on the lats at all times.
You will have to get used to this exercise in the beginning, but once you feel the mind-muscle connection, you will notice that it’s an excellent exercise for activating the lats.
You want to use light weights with the exercise, so don’t go ego lifting on this movement. If you use a too heavyweight, you will use the triceps more than the lats, and that does not want we want to achieve.
Pro’s and Cons
The Best Bicep Exercises For Mass
So after we finished the back workout we will jump right into the bicep workout. You will probably notice that your biceps are already activated and most of the time you will feel you underarm as well since both were activated a lot during the back workout.
So, if you are a beginner I would highly recommend doing only the first two exercises mentioned below.
A good back and bicep workout consists of at least 3 compound exercises and some pump movements.
1. Dumbbell Curl
The first exercise will be the standing dumbbell curl. This is one of the most known exercises for gaining huge biceps.
When performing the biceps curl, you must keep your elbows close to your body and rotate the wrist while performing the movement.
There are many variations of the dumbbell curls. For example, you could do it seated on an incline bench or as a preacher curl.
I personally like to do the dumbbell curl on an incline bench, this always gives me an amazing stretch and good pump in the biceps.
It’s important to use an appropriate weight when performing the dumbbell curl. If you use a way to heavyweight you will probably train more forearms than your biceps.
With the dumbbell curl, you are primarily focussing on the whole biceps and not the brachialis.
Pro’s and Cons
2. Barbell Curl
The dumbbell curls are focussed on the biceps, and this exercise is concentrated on the whole arm. So also the brachialis, as seen on the biceps anatomy.
I like to do this exercise with heavyweights in a 6-10 rep range. However, it’s perfectly fine to do the barbell curl with more reps for a better pump.
The exercise is straightforward and easy to perform. The most important thing to remember is keeping your elbows close to your body and pull the bar to your chin.
Keep the focus on the biceps and not in the lower arm.
A variation tip: The Barbell 21’s
The barbell 21’s exercise has nothing to do with your form; the only thing that changes are the total reps. Normally you would do three sets of 10-12 reps, and now you are doing 1 set with 21 reps.
However, you are going to do it slightly differently than usual. The exercise is divided into 3 parts.
In the first seven reps, you will perform the curl from the bottom and stop halfways and go back again.
The next seven reps, you will begin from the halfway point and curl to your chin.
And now comes the hard part.
In the last seven reps, you will do the full barbell curl from the bottom to your chin.
Please check the video below on how to perform the 21 barbell curl correctly and safely.
Pro’s and Cons
3. Cable Bicep Curl
The cable bicep curl is a fantastic finishing bicep exercise. With this movement, you can focus mainly on your bicep and get a good squeeze and pump.
You can perform this exercise with either a single cable or with a curl attachment so that you can train both arms at the same time.
Pro’s and Cons
Beginner Back And Bicep Workout Routine
Below you will find an easy to understand beginner back and bicep workout routine. This workout program consists of the primary back movements and will help you out with getting a good base of muscle mass and strength.
If you are just starting out in the gym, I would recommend starting with low weight and slowly work your way up. When you start with low weight, you will give your body time to adjust to your new workout style and routine.
|Seated Row Machine||10-12||3|
|Close Grip Lat Pulldown||12-15||3|
Advanced Back and bicep workout routine
Below you will found the advanced back and bicep workout routine for muscle mass. As you can see, you will have five back exercises and 3 bicep movements.
You can always rotate between exercises but, in my opinion, this is the best back and bicep workout for gaining mass.
|Seated Row Machine||8-12||3|
|Barbell Row / Dumbbell Row||6-10||3|
|Close Grip Lat Pulldown||10-12||3|
|Cable Bicep Curl||12-15||3|
There is no such thing as the optimal time for a back and bicep workout. Generally, a workout routine is between 45-90 minutes and shouldn't take any longer than that. Some people like to train fast, and some people want to train slow.
After the back and bicep workout, you want to eat some solid protein and carbs to fuel the glycone stores. A study found out that eating between 20-40 grams of protein is best for muscle recovery.
The best protein sources:
- Protein Powder
- Eggs - Chicken - Salmon or Tuna
- Greek Yogurt
The best carb sources:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Rice Cakes
If you are interested in learning more about post-workout supplements, i recommended reading our blog post regarding the best post workout supplements available.
Stretching your back and biceps after a workout can be beneficial for recovery and cooling down the muscle. An excellent stretching routine for your back would be:
Across Side Reach
Lying Leg Over
Seated Leg Over Twist
Standing Arm Pull Lean
Standing Grab Lean Back