There is no definitive answer as to whether back and biceps need to be trained together, but some people believe that there is some benefits to combining these two muscle groups.

This guide will show you how to create upper-body workouts that are efficient and will help build a strong back and arms.

Working on your biceps

Pulldown exercises are best to start with when working out your biceps, as these exercises target the larger back muscles when you have more energy.

It makes more sense to do biceps curls after working out your back, since your arms would be too tired to help with back movements if you started with them.

One of the most popular workout splits among weight lifters is the push-pull split, where you train muscles that push one day and those that pull the next.

You could for example, work on your chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and calves on Monday, and then focus on your back, biceps, glutes, hamstrings, and rear deltoids on Tuesday.

This schedule is helpful in ensuring that you balance all your training and don’t neglect any muscle groups.

You don’t have to train your whole body every day. You could do upper-body exercises one day, and then the next day do upper-body exercises that focus on your biceps. Later in the week, you could do a leg day. A back and biceps session is a good option for all variations of the push-pull split.


–Biceps brachii. The biceps muscle allows you to twist the wrist outward and flex the elbow.

–Brachialis. This muscle is located between your biceps and triceps on the outer side of your arm. It flexes the elbow.

This is the meaty part of your back that sits between your shoulder blades and runs down to your waist.* When discussing “back training” among strength and conditioning experts, they are usually referring to the upper back. This is the section of your back located between your shoulder blades and extending down to your waist.

Erector spinae muscles in the lower back are a key part of core musculature. These muscles also play an important role in leg exercises like deadlifts and squats.

You can certainly include lower-back exercises in your back and biceps workouts if you choose to, but be careful not to overwork the area by factoring in the stress that your other workouts may be putting on it.

Best biceps exercises

Elbow movement is limited to a single plane, so the only way to directly train the biceps is through curls.

Curls can be performed with different hand and shoulder positions to target the biceps differently. Hence, there are five types of curls.

1. Straight-Arm Pulldown (Prime)

Sets: 3 Reps: 15–20

2. One-Arm Dumbbell Row (Perform)

Sets: 3 Reps: 8–10 (each side) Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place your other hand and knee on a bench for support. Maintaining a straight spine from your head to your pelvis and keeping your shoulders squared with the floor will give you the best stretch.

Using a dumbbell, row by pulling the weight up to your hip and drawing your shoulder back and down. Your elbow should not rise higher than your back.

Lower your arm under control. Finish all of your repetitions on one side before moving on to the other side.

3. Lat Pulldown (Pump)

Sets: 2 Reps 20

Sit at a pulldown station, and secure your knees under the pads. Place your hands on the bar outside of your shoulders, with your palms facing away from you.

Pull the bar to your collarbone while driving your shoulder blades down and together, and control the bar’s path back up.

4. Dumbbell Hammer Curl (Prime/Pump)

Sets: 3 Reps: 12–15 (each side)

Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side, with your palms facing in. Lift the weights until your biceps are fully contracted, without moving your upper arms.

5. Preacher Curl (Pump)

Sets: 1 Reps: 25–30

Use a preacher bench or machine to isolate your biceps. Place your triceps on the pad, keeping your elbows close to the bottom of the pad. Curl the weight without moving your upper arms. Keep your elbows bent and never fully extend them.

There are many versions of the preacher curl, and every serious bodybuilder has their favorite. No matter what variation you do, you will get an intense pump, especially if you have a good pre-workout supplement or pump supplement.

This exercise can be used to build your biceps and adding something like hammer curls can help improve the workout.

You will get the most muscle activation when the movement is lower third. The weight being lifted is not as heavy, therefore the muscle does not have to work as hard. Cables might be the best way to help build your biceps.

Preacher Curl Variations for Biceps Growth:

This exercise is difficult to cheat on because your arms are supported by a bench. Therefore, this exercise should be performed towards the end of your workout, doing 8-12 repetitions per set.

6. Lat Pulldown (Prime)

Sets: 3 Reps: 15–20 (submaximal weight)

See the directions above. Use a weight that is challenging, but allows you to complete all the reps.

7. Suspension-Trainer Bodyweight Row (Perform)

Sets: 3 Reps: 8

In order to do this exercise, grab the handles of a suspension trainer with your palms facing downwards. Hang suspended with your legs extended in front of you. Tighten your stomach muscles and pull your body up until your back is straight.

Your wrists should be rotated so your palms face upwards in the top position. To make the exercise easier, adjust the height of the handles so your body is more upright. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, lower the handles so your body is closer to parallel to the floor.

8. Machine Low Row (Pump)

Sets: 3 Reps: 25

Attach a V-grip handle, or two individual grip handles, to the pulley of a seated cable row station, in order to perform the seated cable row exercise. Reach forward and grasp the handle while keeping your lower back flat and allowing your shoulder blades to stretch.

To row correctly, pull the handle toward your sternum, squeezing your shoulder blades together and downward. Lower the weight with control.

9. Cable Hammer Curl (Prime/Pump)

Sets: 3 Reps: 20

To do this exercise, you will need to attach a rope handle to the low pulley of a cable station. After doing this, you will need to grab each end of the rope with one of your hands. Stand with the cable taut and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your upper arms in line with your sides, curl the rope until your biceps are fully contracted, pausing for a moment at the top.

This movement is very similar to the standing barbell curl. in which you take a shoulder-width, underhand grip on the bar. Both movements involve taking a shoulder-width, underhand grip on the bar.

The angle of loading is what makes this exercise different and effective. It gives you constant tension on the muscle throughout the full range of motion.

This means that you can not take a break at the bottom or the top, which would create more time under tension. Additionally, the gym you choose may offer a variety of handle options and body positions to keep you occupied.

10. Dumbbell Curl (Pump)

Sets: 2 Reps: 30

To begin, stand with feet hip-width apart and dumbbells at your sides with palms facing forward. Lift the weights by curling your arms and keeping them at your sides. Hold the weights at the top for a moment before lowering them down.

Is this really any different than a barbell curl? That’s up to you. We don’t recommend doing the same moves in the same workout.

Dumbbell curls are versatile and can be done in different ways to work different muscles. For example, Zottman curls work the forearms, while twisting the pinky focuses on the biceps. In short, you have options.

11. Band Row (Prime)

Sets: 3 Reps: 20

Band should be attached to a sturdy object. Grasp other end of band with both hands, palms facing each other. Get into an athletic stance with your hips and knees bent, and step back to put tension on the band. Pull the band towards your sternum and hold for a moment.

12. Bent-over Row (Perform)

Sets: 3 Reps: 8–10

Place a barbell on a rack so that it is at hip level. Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, then pull the bar up and out of the rack. If you have more experience and a strong lower back, you can deadlift the bar off the floor to start.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, holding the bar at arm’s length against your thighs.

react Assuming you want a fitness-related activity: Bend your hips back and take a deep breath, making sure your head, spine, and pelvis are aligned. Bend at the waist until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Keeping your shoulder blades back and down, pull the bar up until it reaches your belly button.

13. Chin-up (Perform)

Sets: 3 Reps: 8

To do a chin-up, grip the chin-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing you. Hang from the bar with your feet off the ground. Bring your shoulder blades toward each other and down as you lift your chin over the bar. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, you can add weight by wearing a belt as shown in the picture.

Ever done a set of max-rep chins? The biceps are working hard during this move. Both pull-ups and chin-ups have a high degree of elbow flexion, but research has shown that chin-ups work the biceps significantly more.

Sets of 8-12 reps too easy? Add weight. Too hard? Use assistance. Too uncomfortable on your wrists or elbows? switch between holding the rings with your palms facing in or holding them with a cambered grip, or do them on rings. Grip giving out? Wear wrist straps.

Chin-up Variations for Biceps Growth:

If you train your back muscles with biceps exercises, this could be a great way to connect the two muscle groups. Try doing 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. If you want to focus on your upper-back and biceps in a home workout, you can do a few sets to failure.

14. Reverse-Grip Barbell Row

Some lifters see the bent-over row as being just as important as the other powerlifting moves. This is because it works the back muscles a lot, and with the reverse grip, the biceps are also engaged.

If you wouldn’t do the exercise on a biceps-only day, it’s a good way to transition between back and biceps exercises.

Row Variations for Biceps Growth:

This exercise should be included in your back routine, or as a bridge exercise when training back and biceps together. Lift weights that are challenging, but not so heavy that you can only do a few reps. The classic muscle-building rep range is 8-12 reps.

15. Incline Curl

The difference between curling at 90 degrees and 45 is that curling at 90 degrees creates more of a wave effect while curling at 45 creates more of a curl effect. More than you think. The curl movement performed on an incline helps to lengthen the biceps muscle and also provides more of a stretch at the start of the movement.

This is supposed to help you target the long head of the biceps muscle and build the “biceps peak.”

Incline Curl Variations for Biceps Growth:

This is detail work, not the main course! Do these after an exercise in which both biceps heads are targeted with heavy weight, such as standing curls.

It is best to do this movement with light weights and at least 8-12 reps per set because of the “overstretched” arm position at the bottom of the movement.

16. Concentration Curl

The concentration curl is effective at activating muscles. One reason the move is effective is that it limits shoulder involvement. Another reason might be the mind-muscle connection many people report experiencing with this move.

There is evidence to suggest that the mind-muscle connection may help to increase muscle growth.

Concentration Curl Variations for Biceps Growth:

You should finish your biceps workout with this light, strict move. You should choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete around 10-12 repetitions.


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Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

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