Topless man pullup best back bicep workout muscle strength

The best back and bicep workout for big, strong and defined muscles

Do my back and bicep workout to get a broad and strong back as well as bigger and more defined biceps to build the lean and athletic physique you want, says New Body Plan co-founder and Men’s Fitness cover model Joe Warner

Salt and pepper. Gin and tonic. Ben and Jerry. Some things are seemingly destined to work together in perfect harmony. And to that list of dream-team combinations we can add back and biceps.

Why? Because working these two complementary muscles groups during the same session is a fantastic training tactic to build a bigger, stronger and more impressive physique. So read on for my expert answers to the most common back and bicep workout questions so you can train smarter every session. Then try my six-move session that adds serious muscle size and strength!

How I lost 10kg of fat with my 8-week fat loss plan

Why should I train my back?

Training your back is a lot more important than most guys think. They’re the guys who only seriously work their muscles they can see in the mirror, so mainly their chest, shoulders, arms and abs.

Too much focus on the muscles on the front of your body (anterior chain muscles) and not enough training time spent on those muscles on the back of your body (posterior chain muscles) results in an unbalanced, inflexible and injury-prone physique.

So it’s vital you devote as much time on hitting your back as you do your chest. Doing so will build a balanced and functionally fit body, as well as build back width, size and definition that is a clear indicator of a strong and athletic physique. And that’s exactly the point of the back and bicep session I’ve created for you!

Why should I do a back and bicep workout?

The muscle groups make a great pair because they are involved in similar movements. Any pulling movement involving your arms will work your back and your biceps, for example. They also work particularly well together if you do a chest and triceps session. Throw in a legs workout and a shoulders and abs session and you’ve got a great training split.

How to get rid of lower back fat

Should you always train back and biceps together?

A back and bicep workout is a great pairing but it’s not your only option for those muscle groups. Chest and back sessions are great, particularly when paired with legs and shoulders workouts. You could also train your back on it’s own if you’re an experienced exerciser. And you can devote an entire session to training your arms. But for all-round effectiveness and efficiency, the back and bicep workout is a hard one to beat. After all, who doesn’t want to add size and definition to their arms?

How many back and bicep exercises should I do?

It makes sense to do between six and eight exercises in a back and bicep workout. That’s not a hard rule. There are instances where you might do fewer or more than that. But that number will give you the chance to fully fatigue both muscle groups while using a range of exercises. Generally speaking, more experienced lifters can do more exercises because their work capacity is greater.

The best way to get six-pack abs – your questions answered!


The best back and bicep workout

1. Underhand grip lat pulldown

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60 seconds
Target Back and biceps
This is a great way to start your back and bicep workout. The lat pulldown machine makes it relatively easy to execute. The underhand grip shifts the emphasis towards your biceps so both muscle groups will be challenged.

How to do the underhand grip lat pulldown

• Position yourself in the lat pulldown machine according to the instructions.
• Use a flat or slightly angled bar and take an underhand grip.
• Your grip should be just narrower than shoulder width apart, palms facing you.
• Pull the bar down until it is below chin height and pause for a second at the bottom.
• Return the bar to the start position slowly and repeat.
• Make sure your torso doesn’t rock back and forth to aid the movement.


2. Seated cable row machine

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60 seconds
Target Back and biceps
The lat pulldown is great for back width. The seated cable row machine is fantastic for building a thicker back.

How to do the seated cable row machine

• Sit on the machine according to the instructions.
• Grab the handles with your arms straight and tension in the cable.
• Keep your torso upright and angled back slightly.
• Pull your elbows back to row the handles to your stomach.
• Pause for a second at the top of the pull then return slowly to the start.
• The cable should be horizontal throughout and you should avoid leaning back to aid the move.


3. Straight arm cable pulldown

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 60 seconds
Target Back (with some involvement from the chest and front shoulders)
This final back move of the session takes the biceps out of the equation. It’s a really useful exercise to include in a back and bicep workout because it acts as a transition move. It allows you to fully fatigue your back muscles while giving your biceps time to recover. You can then hit your biceps hard using the triset that follows.

How to do the straight arm cable pulldown

• Set a cable to the highest point possible and attach a rope handle.
• Walk backwards so that your arms are straight, your hands are at head height and there is tension in the cable.
• Hinge at the hips so that your body and your arms are nearly in a straight line.
• Keeping your arms straight, bring your hands down to the side of your thighs.
• Return to the start position under control.


4a. Incline biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 0 seconds
Target Biceps
Note: this is the first exercise of a three-move triset (4a, 4b and 4c). That means you do one set of 4a, then go straight into a set of 4b, then go straight into a set of 4c. When you have done one set of each, rest for 60 seconds then repeat.

When you move on to the biceps part of your back and bicep workout this is a great place to start. Each of the three moves in this triset work your biceps from a different position of flexion. In this case, you start from behind the line of the body. Mixing up your start position ensures that you hit your biceps from a range of angles. And that’s one of the key components of muscle growth.

How to do the incline biceps curl

• Set a bench at a 60 degree incline.
• Sit on the bench and lean back so your arms hang down behind the line of your body.
• Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards.
• Keeping your upper arms still, curl the dumbbells up to the top.
• Squeeze at the top then lower slowly under control.
• Squeeze your triceps at the bottom of the move then start the next rep.

4b. Dumbbell hammer curl

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 0 seconds
Target Biceps, forearms
It’s not just positions of flexion that we’re adjusting in this back and bicep workout. We’re also playing around with wrist position. In the first move, your wrists were facing forwards. With the dumbbell hammer curl your wrists face inwards. That’s significant because the angle of your wrist influences which biceps and forearms muscles are used.

How to do the dumbbell hammer curl

• Stand tall while holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in.
• Curl the weights up to your shoulders without letting your upper arms move forwards.
• Squeeze the biceps hard at the top then lower slowly under control.
• Squeeze the triceps at the bottom of the move then go straight into the next rep.

4c. EZ bar preacher curl

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 60 seconds
Target Biceps, forearms
The preacher curl bench is a great tool to use to close out your back and bicep workout. It puts your upper arms in a fixed position so you can’t cheat the move. You have to use biceps strength rather than the surrounding muscles to move the weight. The result is the bigger biceps you’ve always wanted.

How to do the EZ bar preacher curl

• Sit at a preacher curl bench and hold an EZ bar with a narrow grip.
• Curl the weight up as far as you can then lower slowly to the start.

Find your perfect fat-loss plan!
Take the New Body quiz!

Your top 8 fat loss questions – answered!

The 10 best supplements for men

How to naturally increase testosterone levels

3 things I wish I’d known when trying to get lean and lose weight

3 easy ways to get rid of man boobs

Burn fat and lose your belly fast with HIIT cardio

New Body Plan uses cookies to improve your experience on our site. For more information see our privacy and cookie policy. Accept Cookies Decline Cookies