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Your next Back and Biceps workout with dumbbells has just been upgraded to serious, with a high risk of muscle-fiber damage leading to severe and prolonged hypertrophy. A muscle-growth watch has been issued for the next four weeks because a training system like this has the potential to be even more growth-inducing and disruptive if completed twice a week.
Whether you’re an intermediate lifter serious about improving your back and biceps, or an advanced physique technician looking to drive more muscle to those areas, this workout double-header will do all of that and possibly more. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a half-measure kind of person with little love for hard work, what I’m about to share with you will stay only words and pictures on your device.
Hi, I’m Psymon H the man making his name from improving physiques and growing natural muscle with minimal equipment. In my nearly 40 years of going head-to-head with the iron, the one thing I learned is that almost anything is possible as long as you apply yourself, come with an open mind, stay patient and never stop learning. With that being said, let's get into the nuts and bolts.
In this dumbbell back and bicep workout guide, I’m going to lay out an intense workout for you to perform on Monday and an equally extreme workout for you to complete on Thursday. The idea is for you to repeat these workouts over a four-week training cycle.
For these workouts, we're going to concentrate on the whole of the back region from the Trapezius in the north and the latissimus dorsi towards the east and the west, to the Erector Spinae in the south and everything in between. The same goes for the Biceps with a blanket covering of the short and long Bicep head to the Brachialis.
To up the ante and force more muscle growth, we’re going to make use of a proven intensity technique called Variation Giant Sets. On Monday, you’ll hit your back with the technique and then use it for Biceps on Thursday.
The muscle group that doesn’t get Variation Giant Sets will receive straight sets using a specific rep range, aiming for 2 reps in reserve on all working sets. All pictures and exercise cues will be added towards the end of this article.
Similar to anything to do with muscle growth, your work inside the gym is only a small portion of the whole process. Have your nutrition, sleep, and stress management in order. If you want an unfair advantage over the competition, join our "More Jacked" newsletter and get a free copy of our Post-Workout Underground Blueprint.
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Right now I can hear a whispered question,” Can I do my back and biceps together?” The short answer to this is yes. Both muscles lend themselves to each other because the biceps are used when performing rowing movements. If you train your Back first, your biceps will be warmed up and ready to go when it's their turn to get their pump on.
Too late to back out now, you’ve already come this far so you might as well grow some muscle and make it worth your while.
On Monday, you're going to fire up your back with Variation Giant Sets. What are they?
If you've never done Variation Giant Sets, this is a real shocker for any muscle group. You perform variations of the same exercise in a giant set fashion.
This is how your Back workout will look doing Variation Giant Sets
1: Seated Dumbbell Reverse Row
2: Chest Supported Dumbbell Row
You can start as low as performing 2 Variation Giant Sets and working up to 4 sets using a rep range of 8-10 repetitions per exercise/set, aiming for 2 repetitions in reserve on each exercise/set.
1: Plate Curl
Here, you complete a minimum of 3 working straight sets and work up to 4 sets per exercise. Reps will be set at 8 repetitions per set aiming for 2 repetitions in reserve. If after completing a set of 8 repetitions you have more than 2 reps in reserve, you add weight to your next set. If after completing a set you have 1 or fewer reps in reserve, you remove weight for the next set. If on completion of a set you only have 2 repetitions in reserve, you keep the same weight for the following set. This means that after each set of 8 repetitions, you must ask yourself, “am I above or below the 2 repetitions in reserve benchmark?”
On Thursday, your Back workout will look somewhat different with the following exercise list and repetition set up:
All cues and pictures for these lat exercises are listed below.
Here, you complete a minimum of 3 working sets and work up to 4 sets per exercise. Reps will be set at 7 repetitions per set aiming for 2 repetitions in reserve. If after completing a set of 7 repetitions you have more than 2 reps in reserve, you add weight to your next set.
If after completing a set you have 1 or fewer reps in reserve, remove weight for the next set. If on completion of a set you only have 2 repetitions in reserve, you keep the same weight for the following set. This means that after each set of 7 repetitions, you must ask yourself, "am I above or below the 2 repetitions in reserve?"
Your Variation Giant Sets look like the following…
Start as low as 2 Variation Giant Sets and gradually work up to 4 sets. Use a rep range of 12-15 repetitions per exercise/set, aiming for 2 repetitions in reserve on each exercise/set.
After finishing this bad-boy-bicep-variation, you’ll be in no mood to lift the post-workout shaker to your mouth.
There are some important points I would like to make about this dumbbell back and Bicep workout double-header to help you progress and get results.
· Progression is the name of the game. Use week one as a foundation week to get used to the new exercises, nail form, and execution, understand how the variation giant sets work, and put numbers on the board. Use week two to build upon and establish your groove. Week three is where you go head-to-head with yourself, and week four is a battle of fatigue and willpower.
· Always log your weights, reps, and reps in reserve for each set. Winging it and going with the flow is amateurish at best. Logging your workouts reinforces "self-accountability," gives motive, and adds a competitive spirit because numbers don't lie, but at some point, your inner-self might.
·When it comes to how many sets you should perform, a lot will depend on your ability to recover between sessions. Start with two giant sets and work your way up. If you only completed 12 reps per set on all of your Bicep variation giant set exercises, push for 13 next time around.
·However you feel about taking your foot off the gas pedal every fifth week, Deload-weeks are something you need to adhere to progress. On week five drop the variation giant sets and the two repetitions in reserve and replace it with doing one set of each exercise with less weight and up to 5 reps in reserve. This will give your Tendon and Ligaments time to heel and relieve fatigue accumulation while keeping any adaptations made over the four-week muscle-growing cycle.
·If you’re more focused on building your back and biceps, for those four training weeks put your other muscle groups in maintenance mode by lowering the volume so that you have more energy to work your back and biceps at maximum levels.
This may mean training other muscle groups once per week or just performing minimal sets over the week. Maintenance mode could be as low as the following…Chest-8-12 set per week, Side/Rear Delts-8-12 sets, Quads-6-8 set, Hamstrings-8-10 sets, Calves-8-10 sets, Triceps-6-8 sets.
·When performing heavy rows and deadlifts, it's a good idea to use wrist-straps to keep your grip fresh. Be aware that you may have to set up four different weights on your variation giant sets.
Use this section to familiarize yourself with each exercise movement and bookmark the page so you can refer to it as and when you need to.
You're going to start your journey into the Back-Lands in the upper back regions with the Seated Dumbbell Reverse Row. The seated position will limit how much weight you can row, but row you must to land more upper back territory.
Items Needed: Flat bench and a pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Sit on the edge of a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Start with the dumbbells in line with your hamstrings and palms facing each other. Lean over until your chest rests on your upper thighs.
Cue 2: Tighten your core and retract your shoulder blades by bringing them down. As you row the dumbbells up, rotate your wrist so that the palms are facing forward. Drive the elbows back and up before briefly holding the top position and returning to the start.
Before you can even catch your breath, you must grip up and jump straight into the next movement. Your Back and Bicep Workout With Dumbbells is suddenly on an incline with the Chest Supported Dumbbell Row. You have two choices – Option 1: Place your bench at a 60-degree gradient and row facing into the bench, or Option 2: Place the bench at a 75-degree angle and turn it around so you are from the back of the bench…You choose which way you want to go!
Cue 1: With dumbbells in hand, straddle an incline bench and walk your way up until you are comfortably resting face-forward at the top of the bench.
(Option 2) (Option 1) Turn a high incline bench around so that you are behind it. Balance a pad on the top of the bench for comfort. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and rest your upper torso on the pad.
Cue 2: Have your palms facing you at the beginning of the movement, retract your shoulder blades by pulling them down; this will help to activate the Lat muscles and get a better mind/muscle connection. Tighten your core and squeeze your Lats.
Cue 3: Row the dumbbells smoothly into your hips and as you reach the top of the movement, rotate your palms so they are facing each other. Hold and squeeze briefly before lowering the dumbbells to the start position.
Cue 4: At the bottom of the movement, protract your shoulders so it looks as if you are hunched over. This will help to engage more upper Back muscles. Repeat all of the cues as you go through each repetition.
Exercises Under The Spotlight!
6 Dumbbell Chest Supported Row Variations For A Bigger Back
Incline Curl Variations For Bigger Arms
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As you get deeper into the Back-lands, things don’t become any easier because now you’re face-to-face with the brutal Dumbbell Bent Over Row. There’s no time to worry about how much gas you have left; just pick the dumbbells up and row.
Cue 1: Take a dumbbell in each hand and hinge at the waist with your feet set shoulder-width apart.
Cue 2: Have the dumbbells in front of your shins with palms facing back. Maintain a flat back and a slight bend at the knees as not to put stress in unwanted areas.
Cue 3: Retract your shoulder blades by pulling them down; this will help to activate the Lat muscles and get a better mind/muscle connection. Tighten your core and squeeze your back.
Cue 4: Row the dumbbells smoothly to your hips and as you reach the top of the movement, rotate your palms so they are facing each other. Hold and squeeze briefly before lowering the dumbbells to the start position.
Cue 5: At the bottom of the movement, protract your shoulders so it looks as if you are hunching over. This will help to engage more upper Back muscles. Repeat all of the cues as you go through each repetition.
Survive the previous onslaught and your row into the lower Lat region of the Back-lands will become even more twisted and pump-ridden.
Equipment Needed: Flat bench and one dumbbell.
Set-Up: The set-up is the most important aspect for getting the exercise looking and feeling right.
1: Start by kneeling on the edge of a flat bench and placing your hand as support, similar to a Single-arm dumbbell row. The goal here is to place the leg that is on the ground as far back as possible without losing your balance and falling over.
2: The next part of this setup is responsible for the lower Lat being involved. Pick up a dumbbell and twist your upper torso so that you're looking over the hip of the leg resting on the ground.
Cue 1: Unlike the traditional Single Arm Row, where you lower the dumbbell to the floor for a fuller stretch before rowing it, here you only row until your arm is straight. With your torso twisted in place, retract your shoulder and row the dumbbell as if you're about to place it in your back pocket.
Cue 2: At this point, you should feel your lower Lat contract. While maintaining the twist, bring the dumbbell back to the straight arm position, making sure not to lose your balance. Remember that you are not rowing the dumbbell to the ground but until your arm is straight.
Cue 3: Make sure that before each repetition that you are twisted and looking over your hip before retracting your shoulder and setting off.
If you want to dish up a platter of hard-hitting stress on the Short Bicep Head, look no further than the mouthwatering Plate Curl. Be careful as you're likely to get a full muscle belly on an exercise movement that may take time to digest.
Target Muscle Group: Short Bicep Head.
Items Needed: One dumbbell and a crate or low platform to sit on.
Cue 1: Take a seat and place a dumbbell on its head between your legs.
Cue 2: Slide your hands under the knuckle of the dumbbell so that your little fingers touch. Use the inside of your thighs to brace your elbows.
Cue 3: Slowly curl the dumbbell up to just your chin area. Briefly tense your Biceps before slowly returning the dumbbell to the start position.
If you want to hit your Brachialis with more intent, the Standing Hammer Drag Curl is the exercise, simply because the shoulders are now locked in place which will help to generate more mechanical tension in the right area.
Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells
Cue 1: Stand upright and retract your shoulder blades by pulling them down.
Cue 2: Using the hammer grip and keeping your elbows back, curl the dumbbells up to chest height.
Cue 3: Briefly hold the top position before returning to the start of the movement.
The Standing Dumbbell Drag Curl should be seen as the meat, potatoes with all the trimmings. If you want to make the guns shoot a hole in the sleeves, make sure to add this movement into your home Bicep workout with dumbbells.
Target Muscle Group: Long Bicep Head
Items Needed: A pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Stand erect with your core tensed and retract the Shoulder Blades, making sure that you keep the dumbbells from traveling in front of you as you begin to curl them up to chest height. Keep the Shoulders as still as possible and squeeze the biceps to create more tension.
Cue 2: Briefly pause at the top of the movement before returning to the start of the exercise.
If you've never done the Seated Dumbbell Deadlift before, you are in for a treat. The seated position helps you focus on activating the muscles of the back. Follow the cues and do this exercise regularly, and your Lats will thank you.
Items Needed: Two dumbbells, a flat bench, and a block or platform. If you are going heavy, wear wrist straps.
Setup: If you have long arms or want to extend the range of motion, place a block or platform under the seated end of the bench.
Cue 1: Sit at the edge of a flat bench with your knees at a right angle to your ankles. Place a dumbbell on the outer side of each foot.
Cue 2: With palms facing each other, lean forward so your chest is almost touching your thighs, and grip the dumbbells making sure that your back remains flat. As you lift them a few inches off the ground, compress your shoulder blades as hard as you can, which will activate your Lats.
Cue 3: As you slowly pull yourself up, you should feel the stress in your Lats from retracting your shoulders. Pull until you are in the fully upright position and hold for a second or two before lowering the dumbbells down to touch the floor. By placing the dumbbells on the outer side of each foot, you involve more upper back.
The advantage the decline pullover has on a flat dumbbell pullover is all in the position of the bench, as the decline puts more stress on the Lat fibers through the range of motion.
Items Needed: A decline bench or one end of a flat bench resting on a platform, and one dumbbell.
Cue 1: Turn the dumbbell on its head and carefully lay back on your decline bench setup. Slide your palms under the top knuckle or plate of the dumbbell, and lift it over your chest, making sure to turn your elbows in so that your biceps are facing you.
Cue 2: Keeping arms straight, slowly lower the dumbbell to a comfortable position over your head.
Cue 3: Retract your shoulder blades before returning the dumbbell to the overhead position.
Dumbbell Pullovers For Lats - Build Width With These 4 Pullover Variations
This will target the upper and lower parts of the back with equal venom.
Items Needed: Flat bench and one dumbbell
Cue 1: Sit upright with a high chest on the edge of a flat bench and rest a dumbbell on your upper chest. Tighten your core and retract your shoulder blades by pulling them down.
Cue 2: Hunch your upper torso over the dumbbell and hold for a second or two before returning to the flat back position and retracted shoulder blades.
This short Bicep head exercise is a variation of the incline dumbbell curl, and a movement, if done correctly, will have you wanting to drop the dumbbells long before the set is over.
The two major differences between the incline dumbbell curl and the Incline Jam Curl are the setup and the angle at which you curl the dumbbells.
Target Muscle: Short Bicep Head
Items Needed: Incline Bench set up about 60 degrees and a pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Sit back on an incline bench with dumbbells in hand. Pin back your shoulders so your elbows are pinned into your sides. You should feel your Lats tense as you lift your chest and tighten your core.
Cue 2: Keeping your elbows tucked in and dumbbells out to each side, tense your Biceps before curling the dumbbells so they come up in line with your mid-Deltoids instead of in front of you. As you get to the top of the movement, gently rotate the dumbbells so your pinky finger is higher than the rest of your hand.
Cue 3: Briefly squeeze each dumbbell before slowly returning to the start position. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
The biceps cross both the shoulder and elbow joints, but the main function is at the elbow where it flexes and supinates the forearm. One of the great movements to strengthen this area is the Standing Dumbbell Zottman Curl.
Target Muscle Group: Biceps, Brachialis & Forearms.
Items Needed: A pair of dumbbells
Cue 1: Stand upright with Shoulder pin back and straight Back. Without swinging, curl the dumbbells to the top of the movement.
Cue 2: At the top of the curl, turn the palms down before returning the dumbbells to the start.
Cue 3: At the bottom of the movement, rotate palms back so they are facing before starting the curl.
Action this movement with precision and you won’t know what to do with the pump in your Biceps at the end.
Target Muscle Group: Long Bicep Head
Items Needed: Incline bench and a pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Set up a bench between 45 and 75 degrees incline. Sit with dumbbells in hand and retract your shoulder blades.
Cue 2: Aim to make sure that the dumbbells travel behind in line with your torso and not in front, curl both dumbbells to the 90-degree angle.
Cue 3: Keep one dumbbell in the 90-degree position, and return the other dumbbell to the start position.
Cue 4: Curl the dumbbell back to the 90-degree position and release the other dumbbell by bringing it back to the start position. Now alternate between the two positions until all repetitions have been completed.
Simply put, if you curl any higher than 90-degrees, you lose tension on the biceps. This movement allows you to feel the peak contraction twice within the same rep while also helping to strengthen the top area of the bicep where a lot of tears and injuries happen.
Items Needed: Incline Bench set at a 60-degree angle and one pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Sit with dumbbells in hand and retract your shoulder blades.
Cue 2: Curl both dumbbells until the dumbbells are at a 90-degree angle to your biceps.
Curl 3: Lift elbows while keeping the dumbbells at a 90-degree angle to your biceps. Squeeze each bicep at the top of the movement before reversing the action back to the start of the movement.
We’ve reached the end of our guide to the best Back and Bicep Workout With Dumbbells. Don’t sit on this muscle-building information –Act on it and Grow!
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