Back and Bicep Workout (Complete Guide)

We all want to get a bigger upper body.

We all want an awesome back, an awesome set of arms, chest and shoulder.

The trick is knowing how divide things up for maximum gains and efficiency.

In this guide we’ll break things up to develop gains on our back and biceps.

By following this guide you’ll learn to focus on two sets of muscles that will have you looking more commanding, athletic and dominant. 

In this article you’ll learn:
How to build a bigger back
How to build bigger biceps

Back when I started working out, the muscles i was most obsessed with developing were my chest, back and arms. I think that’ true for the majority of us guys.

That’s just how it goes. We’re focused on getting a bigger upper body.

It’s almost like our Alpha male genes are telling us to get a bigger upper body. The chest, back and biceps are what many would call “beach muscles.”

If you have em, you flaunt them.

If you don’t have them, you try to get them to look good so you can flaunt them.

Well, in this article we’ll do just that. I’ll show you what to do in order to amp up your beach muscles with these back and biceps workouts.

Should You Train Back and Biceps Together?

That’s a question that comes up often. There’s two schools of thought. Some say that these muscle groups should be trained separately. Others say muscle groups should be trained together.

The logic behind those who say these muscles should be trained separately is a belief that biceps should be allowed time to recover.

Many argue that a training session on your back burns out your biceps strength.

By not allowing the biceps to come in fresh, you end up cheating your biceps from working at their potential.

This equals smaller biceps.

That’s the theory…

The reality is your biceps can handle a lot without having to rest too much. Because biceps, much like your leg muscles, are used to getting taxed throughout the day, they’re one of those muscles you don’t need to worry too much about recovery.

However, in some instances you do have to worry about overtraining.

We’ll talk about it later.

For the most part you don’t have to worry about splitting these body parts. Train them together and you’ll get the same results than if you’d split the muscles on different days.

High Volume Bicep and Back Training

When I first started training I copied the usual bodybuilder workouts. You know, the ones you’ll find in magazines. These days I’m not a big fan of them. But I can see why most guys want to copy them.

First of all it’s fun to lift weights in a sequence of exercises. Going from one exercise to the next developing a pump. It feels good.

Remember when I mentioned earlier about overtraining?

That’s one of the issues with high volume training.

You’ll be able to get through these workouts and you’ll get a pump for a couple of weeks.

But all good things come to an end.

You’ll see your gains go away.

In fact, research on elite junior weightlifters published by the Human Kinetics Journal showed that high volume training potentially leads to impending overtraining syndrome.”

The lesson here is, if you plan on going with high volume training, then make sure you do it for few periods at a time. In order for this type of training to work, you’ll have to avoid doing high volume training on consecutive weeks.

For best results do this training 1 or 2 times a month. That’s it.

So here’s a high volume workout you can follow:

  • Lat Pulldowns (3×10)
  • Smith Machine Rows (3×10)
  • Close Grip Pulldowns (3×10)
  • Dumbbell Rows (3×8)
  • Curl Bar Dumbbell Curls (3×8)
  • Rope Curls (3×10)
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls (3×10)

Rest one to two minutes between exercise and set.

Be mindful of overtraining.

Make sure you only use a sequence like this workout once or twice per month. Don’t train with this high volume training on consecutive weeks.

Back and Bicep Mass Building Workout

I have to admit. Like most guys, I always wanted to do workouts that built mass.

Like nearly all hardgainers this was the goal.

Gain mass. Gain as much mass as possible.

The key to developing mass is to include exercises that give you the most bang for your buck.

By including deadlifts, you’ll maximize your growth potential.

Deadlifts are often considered a lower body exercise. The truth is it’s a solid back exercise.

So for a total body and total back workout I’d recommend adding deadlifts.

Don’t shy away from them. There’s a reason why bodybuilders always include deadlifts in their training.

Add another mass building pulling exercise like rowing and you’ll trigger growth in your back.

Here’s a solid back workout for mass.

  • Deadlift (4 sets of 5, 3, 3, 1 reps; increase the weight with each set)
  • T Bar Row (4 sets of 6 to 8 reps)
  • Lat Pulldown (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • EZ Bar Curl (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Hammer Curls (3 sets of 8 reps)
Back and Bicep Workout with Dumbbells

I understand that you may not have access to barbells, cable machines, Smith Machines or you simply have a preference for dumbbells.

No problem. There’s still a way to train on your back and biceps using dumbbells.

First we’ll introduce an exercise you might not be doing much on dumbbells.

This is the Dumbbell Power Snatch.

If you’re wondering why I’m throwing this exercise, it’s simple.

Olympic type movements like the Snatch and Power Cleans train your back muscles by focusing on explosiveness.

In fact, the Snatch will train more than just your back. It’ll give you total body workout covering your upper body as well as lower body.

Even though this is a back and bicep workout, it’s best to make your workouts as athletic as possible.

In the following workout you’ll also see I’ve included rear delt raises.

Why would I include Rear Delt Raises?

That’s because rear delt raises work on your back muscles as well as the delts.

So here’s a way to train on back and biceps using just dumbbells.

  • Dumbbell Snatch (4×6)
  • DB Rows (4×10)
  • Rear Delt Raises (3×10)
  • Dumbbell Curls (3×10)
  • Incline DB Curls (3×6-8)
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls (2×10)

Rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets and exercises.

(Here’s an example of Incline DB Curls by Scott Herman)

Note: There are more biceps exercises included in this workout sequence. The reason for this is dumbells aren’t as heavy as barbells. Dumbbells allow for higher sequence of reps per exercise.  

Back and Bicep Superset Workout

I know a lot of guys are into supersets.

There’s nothing wrong with supersets.

In fact, they can provide a good pump for sarcoplasmic growth.

It’s also a good way to switch things up when experiencing a plateau.

With supersets I’d recommend doing them for no longer than one month at a time.

After a month, go back to either a back or bicep specialization approach or a workout that focuses on one exercise at a time with enough rest time between them.

Here’s the superset workout:

  • A1 Pull Ups (3 sets as many as possible)
  • A2 Dumbbell Curls (3 sets of 8-10)
  • B1 Barbell Row (3 sets of 8-10)
  • B2 Curl Bar (3 sets of 8)
  • C1 Chin Ups (3 sets as many as possible)
  • C2 DB Hammer Curl (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)

Note: You’ll do a back exercise followed by a bicep exercise. Perform each exercise with no rest in between. For example, go from A1 to A2 with no rest. Do not allow for rest between B1 and B2 and between C1 and C2.

In this workout you’ll go back and forth between sets until you complete the A sequence. You’ll then follow this with going back and forth with the B sequence. You’ll then finalize with going back and forth between sets with C sequence.

My Athletic Back and Bicep Workout:

The following workout follows a more athletic type of training. In this workout you’ll not only have back and bicep activation, but core activation as well.

Exercises like deadlifts and renegade rows will keep your core engaged, making your midsection stronger.

We’ll start with a heavy compound lift that will work on your lower body,  back, lats and core and follow it with a bodyweight exercise.

If you think pull ups are too easy and need a challenge, add a weight vest or a weight belt to your pull ups.

Renegade Rows are a highly athletic workout that you don’t see often. This exercise will work your core, back, lats and biceps like few exercise do.

We’ll finish things up with a DB curl. DB curls should be enough after putting a lot of work with the previous exercises.

  • Deadlifts (3 warm ups sets; 3×5)
  • Pull Ups (3x AMAP)
  • Renegade Rows (5×5)
  • Dumbbell Curls (3×10)
Back Specialization Workout

Maybe you’re thinking of focusing more on your back to bring out your lats and get a V taper.

You can do this while not neglecting your biceps.

In such a case we’ll be putting more work on the back.

By adding some Olympic lifts and less bicep curls we can get a killer back.

Here’s the workout:

  • Pull Ups (3 sets as many as possible)
  • Power Clean (5 sets of 5)
  • Bent Over Flyes (3 sets of 10)
  • Dumbbell Curls (3 sets of 8-10)
Biceps Specialization Workout

Maybe you’re happy with your back and just want to work on your lats for maintenance. If you’re focused on gaining size on your biceps and want to lay off on your back then there’s a different approach. Here we’ll focus on more bicep work to thicken up the arms.

Here we’ll only use one back exercise. 

Because the focus will be on our biceps, we’ll only include chin ups since these work on biceps more than doing pull ups.

After this exercise we’ll go with just biceps exercise, mostly curls and finish with some bent over flyes to get the shoulder and back tie ins.

Here’s the workout:

  • Chin Ups (3 sets as many as possible)
  • Barbell Curls (3 sets of 6-8 reps)
  • DB Curls (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
  • Bent Over Flyes (3 sets of 10 reps)

Note: Here we’re doing chin ups instead of pull ups for the following reason. Pull ups place more emphasis on the lats than the biceps. Chin Ups will work on the biceps more while still giving you an excellent back workout. One back exercise will be enough here.

As you can see, there’s different approaches to building your back and biceps.

You can either choose to do specialization training where you focus on one exercise over another.

Or you can focus on working on both back and biceps at the same time.

Many approaches work.

Choose any of those listed above and tell me what you think.

To your fitness,

Sam- Look Like An Athlete

Source:  Fry, A. C., Kraemer, W. J., Stone, M. H., Warren, B. J., Kearney, J. T., Maresh, C. M., … & Fleck, S. J. (1993). Endocrine and performance responses to high volume training and amino acid supplementation in elite junior weightlifters. International journal of sport nutrition3(3), 306-322.